MANUFACTURING RESEARCH HELPS LOCAL COMPETITIVENESS

The Malta Council for Science & Technology has carried out the manufacturing research platform project which showed that manufacturing research does assist and quicken the transformation of the local manufacturing industry to higher value added activity. The effort was funded by the European Regional Development Fund which, together with the involvement of industry, clearly demonstrates the importance and benefits of research and innovation on manufacturing.

The Malta Council for Science & Technology is responsible for the National R&I Programme that is launched annually in the final quarter of each year. Different industry/academia partnerships get funds for R&D projects including those focused on the different manufacturing sectors. The Council is also responsible for research policy, promoting scientific research and is the national contact point organisation for the EU Research Framework Programme.

The MRP’s overall research strategy considered a comprehensive long-term view of what legal, financial and other instruments are required to promote effective research and innovation in local manufacturing. Part of the project was to carry out collaborative industry-academia research projects, which not only addressed the research needs of particular organisations, but were also relevant to a broad spectrum of the manufacturing industry.

The research areas clearly showed how local research can help the local manufacturing companies attain higher levels of competitiveness and sustainability. The research areas included sustainable efforts to improve energy efficiency and applying IT and innovation techniques to improve the value added component of the local operations. These areas were focused on following consultation with Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise, the Strategy, Knowledge Management and Innovation division of Malta Enterprise, and The Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering at the University of Malta.

Five industrial partners answered the call to participate in the diverse applied research development. The partners were Andrew’s Feeds, Techniplast, FXB, Toly Products Ltd, Rayair, Playmobil and Fraunhofer. The researchers were appointed following a public call, and the work included developing new manufacturing process and management techniques that showed that their application in the local manufacturing sector can lead to operations that are internationally more competitive.

The MRP through its website http://www.manufacturingresearch.eu now also provides a forum for those companies with the mutual desire for research. In a collaborative format the companies can share best practices, expertise and research requirements. The forum is open to all stakeholders in the manufacturing sector including government and academia. Their aim is to establish how research can contribute towards solving industry problems and in turn, strengthen the competitiveness of the local industry, focusing on the technological aspects.

The project funded Manufacturing Research Strategy is now in the final stages of acceptance by the relevant authorities. The strategy proposes a way forward on how national efforts can help bring about more research and innovation for manufacturing. A press conference is being planned for December of this year where more information will be released. Further to this, more information will be available on the website, http://www.manufacturingresearch.eu

Thursday, 22 November 2012, 12:45 , by Ing. JP Sammut

Ing. JP Sammut is director R&I National Funding and Technology Commercialisation at the Malta Council For Science and Technology

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