DIGITAL REGIONS project partners have started organising some virtual study visits to share local expertise with the rest of the partnership and stakeholder groups across Europe.
Our Portuguese partner CIEBI – Business and Innovation Centre of Beira Interior organised a series of virtual study visits on the 4th and 5th of November to showcase good practices on Industry 4.0 initiatives from Portugal. Partners and stakeholders from Ireland, Slovenia, Spain, Bulgaria and Romania got the opportunity to get inspiration from the following good examples:
Industry 4.0 Voucher
One of the good practices was presented by Pedro Cilinio, from the IAPMEI agency in Portugal which addresses SME competitiveness and innovation. This Portuguese Industry 4.0 voucher scheme provides vouchers with a value of euro 7,500 to help an SME to develop a Digital Transformation / I4.0 strategy. It began in 2017 and is ongoing. Pedro explained the process they adopted of first establishing a pool of accredited service providers and 475 entities were accredited. SME’s then applied to open calls for these vouchers and, if successful, selected an accredited service provider. The initiative resulted in 429 projects and an investment of 4.3 million €.
Incentives for Industry 4.0 - Financing for Industry 4.0
A 3-step approach of Disseminate I4.0, Skills I4.0 and Assimilate i4.0 was highlighted. Attendees heard about Industry 4.0 dissemination activities such as open days where companies host other businesses to demonstrate and share their Industry 4.0 experiences and about 20 of these open days were held around Portugal over 2018-2019.
Also, of great interest was an Industry 4.0 online self-assessment tool. It aims to to evaluate the maturity of Portuguese companies in Industry 4.0, and to assist them to identify critical areas of intervention and outline action plans, investment and financing strategies.
CENTIMFE is focused on additive manufacturing for a cluster of moulds and plastics industrial sector. The centre acts as a national resource in Portugal. They have built an extensive eco-system of companies and research centres. This video is a walkaround the CENTIMFE Centre showing the kind of facilities that are available.
The Centre’s activities include prototyping and demonstrators, product engineering design for manufacturing, processes engineering zero-defect manufacturing, training, quality and management systems and design with communications. It has had considerable success with a range of initiatives and projects in Industry 4.0 such as the Research and Development national project TOOLING 4G.
Attached to this, Portuguese partners presented the INTERREG Sudoe ‘SAMT’ project as well, a good practice for Digital Regions, which aims at spreading additive manufacturing and advanced materials. You can learn more in this video about SAMT. If you are still curious, this animated video explains in general terms about what additive manufacturing is.
Business and Shared Services Centre
Located in Fundão, this centre won an EU RegioStars Award in 2018. Portuguese stakeholders explained how the city started off with the issue of a decreasing population and lack of quality jobs to retain young talent. Therefore, the municipality started an initiative working with all the community and businesses to attract ICT companies to the area and to make it a hotspot for innovation and ICT. Since then, they have also developed an incubator / accelerator, an Agro IOT centre, and they are currently progressing with a Fundão Design Factory and an Advanced Training Centre closely linked to the needs of local ICT companies. Furthermore, they have established a programme to bring coding classes into schools.