February 18, 2019 - The second partnership meeting of the CLAY project (Cross Sector support for Innovative and Competitive Artistic Ceramic SMEs) was held on February 6 and 7, 2019 in Limoges (France).
The partners, coming from Italy, Finland, France, Portugal, Romania and Spain gathered in Limoges for the second Interregional Learning Event (ILE) of the project, with the main purpose of discussing the sector analysis carried out by the partners themselves in Semester 1 (June - November 2018), consisting in an in-depth territorial study to understand the key features of the artistic ceramic sector.
The CLAY project, in fact, through the sharing of best practices and solutions among the partners in the artistic and craft ceramic sector, will lead to the development of policies and concrete actions to support and enhance the competitiveness of small and medium European ceramic enterprises. This process has started from a first preparatory study of the strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the ceramic sector, developed by each partner and coordinated by the Lead Partner (Umbria Region, Italy).
In Limoges, the partners in fact worked together at the construction of a SWOT analysis, starting from the evidence researched in each EU region involved: the result is that, despite the many differences that each region presents (due to differences in the economic and productive systems), some aspects can be defined as common within the CLAY partnership. For instance, the ceramic tradition present in each involved region has been identified as a common strength; on the other hand, the partners identified as a common weakness the fact that - in the artistic and craft ceramic sector - there is a low process of adaptation to the evolving needs of society, due to the presence of a strong tradition. Among the opportunities, the work to be done with the young generations is a fundamental point in all CLAY regions, especially with regard to the perception of the ceramic artistic and craft work among young people, that often see this kind of work as “old-fashioned” and not appealing. As it concerns the threats, globalisation is perceived as an aspect to be taken into account by ceramics SMEs, but partners agreed on the fact that, if faced by the proper tools, it can be turned into a positive opportunity of internationalization and research of new markets.
A specific moment was then dedicated to a panel on product and process innovation in the artistic and craft ceramic sector, with presentations by Fabrice Rossignol (Deputy Director, Institute of Research in Ceramics of Limoges, France - IRCER), Loredana Latterini (Centre of Excellence on Innovative Nanostructured Materials for Physical, Chemical and Biomedical Applications of the University of Perugia, Italy - CEMIN), Olivier Durand, Director of the Center of Technical Transfer of Ceramics of Limoges, France - CTTC) and contributions by the stakeholders of the CLAY partners invited to the meeting.
The meeting included also study visits to understand the link between tradition and innovation in the region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine, with a focus on:
- The manufacture BERNARDAUD, set up in Limoges in 1863, representing the first manufacturer and exporter of porcelain in France. The family business combines tradition with innovation in the tableware, decoration, jewels and collaborates with international contemporary artists (www.bernardaud.com).
- 3DCeram, which has been for 10 years a pioneer in 3D printing of ceramics mainly for biomedical products, the luxury sector and aerospatial applications (www.3dceram.com).
- Musée National Adrien Dubouché Limoges, a museum dedicated to the history and the current development of Limoges porcelain, within the general history of ceramics (www.musee-adriendubouche.fr/en).
- CTTC Center for Technology Transfers in Ceramics, which is the main French Technology Center dedicated to ceramics, providing high-tech and innovative solutions to French and European companies in the field of advanced ceramics, theri processing and additive manufacturing (www.cttc.fr/en).
- IMERYS Ceramics, which designs, produces and markets high-performance mineral solutions for the ceramic industries (www.imerys-ceramics.com).
The second step of the project, in Semester 2 (December 2018 - May 2019) will see the partners analysing the needs of the sector, to understand what type of innovation can be promoted in ceramics (process, product, marketing) and which are the innovation needs to be met with the good practices and the policies selected for the project.