Open platform for advanced technological services in the machine-tool manufacturing sector
The good practice is hinged on the provision of advanced technological services ranging from analysis of technological needs to development of innovative solutions for the production of machine tools (e.g. use of advanced materials techniques or energy-efficient processes) with Technology Readiness Levels 4-7. Services provided are addressed to members of the Consortium and to third parties. The business model is based on discounted access to service for members and full cost for non-members. Current frontier technology services include collaborative projects on metal foam, ultra-light material with high potential in the manufacturing sector but with still high cost of production; and cryogenic processing, a low temperature metalworking process that stabilizes the material and cuts the consumption of cutting fluids.
MUSP embodies very well 2 key features of Research&Innovation Infrastructures, offering: advanced development services coupled with use of advanced equipment; an open technology platform (for members and non-members) for traditional manufacturing, thereby greatly increasing the opportunities of tech-based innovation.
MUSP has the goal to support the business development of companies of the Mechanics sector through applied research and technological innovation. It can be considered a good practice because its activity is based on firms’ needs and is a consortium based on public and private actors (including big companies/SMEs) open to third parties access.
The MUSP open innovation platform operates with a staff of 14 and with an annual turnover close to 1 million euro.
MUSP funding is based on membership fees, national and regional project funding and private funding arising from the payment of technological services.
Evidence of success
Solutions like metal foam, an advanced material for which MUSP has a distinctive national specialization; or the cryogenic metal processing that reduces the cost of metal cutting, are examples of innovative solutions reached by applied research to tackle problems of efficiency and competitiveness in the machine tool sector.
An additional strength and success of MUSP is the capacity to work on different “project scales", according to firms needs/ size. Average cost for standard research is 10K€
Not always advanced solutions can be spread out to all consortium firms, given the costs required to sustain and implement such solutions, but the knowledge base of the consortium increases by each problem raised by firms.
Potential for learning or transfer
The transferability potential lies: the public-private partnership model; the openness of the platform; the joint commitment of partners to manufacturing innovation. MUSP is an example of a local ecosystem that enabled to invest in advanced infrastructures’ endowment and to set up an open platform for advanced innovative R&D services. It includes 10 advanced testing equipmenst and is based on a viable business model that guarantees a utilization rate of 75% and generates a turnover of close to 1 million euro per year. Since 2017 MUSP has also entered an agreement with a business incubator physically close to MUSP headquarters, enabling to transfer technological competences to start-ups and spinoffs, increasing their chances of survival and adding new technological challenges to be tackled by MUSP platform.
Policy makers should help enterprises to identify the local solutions based on competences and an open minded approach usually not available in the SMEs industrial world.
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