Communications Networks, Content and Technology

Factories of the Future

Factories of the Future

Complex Systems & Advanced Computing (Unit A.3)

To develop and implement a "digital industrial strategy"  strengthening Europe's manufacturing and innovative production capacities and contributing to Member States' reindustrialisation efforts. Innovative digital technologies from sensors and lasers to cyber-physical systems, robotics, as well as simulation and visualisation tools are key enablers to radically transform manufacturing, optimise the use of energy and natural resources and improve productivity, competitiveness and jobs creation across all industrial sectors.

  • Lay the foundation for the next generation of ICT enabled manufacturing of more personalised, diversified, mass-produced products allowing quick and flexible reaction to market changes.
  • Reinforce Europe's competitiveness through the development and adoption of ICT platforms and frameworks in the manufacturing sector, which enable Europe to compete on the world market with innovative high quality products at even more competitive prices.
  • Speed up the adoption of ICT to modernise Europe's manufacturing capabilities through the continuation of I4MS (ICT for Manufacturing SMEs): reduce the risk of ICT users in being an early adopter of advanced technology bringing a clear competitive advantage; help suppliers opening up new markets with innovative solutions and establish or broaden the relevant customer base (crossing the valley of death in the technology adoption cycle).
  • Better and more coordinated use of resources by stimulating pooling of funding for ambitious innovation activities from Horizon 2020,structural funds, and regional/national sources.

ICT-based solutions applied across the manufacturing process chain help to make manufacturing efficient. Both elements in combination allow for a more personalized, diversified and mass-produced product portfolio and flexible reaction to market changes.Manufacturing is a major consumer of natural resources and energy. Resources are increasingly extracted through recycling, for which ICT technologies such as RFIDs (Radio Frequency Identification) and robotics are key enablers. The production process uses more and more digital innovations such as data capturing, planning and control, modelling and simulation, cloud computing and big data analysis.Today's manufacturing industries are concentrated along value chains in a smaller number of regions in Europe. Since less developed regions have little opportunity to participate in value creation, ICT allows the creation of 'virtual' value chains independently from geographical location, bringing in skilled labour from other regions, at lower cost.Although large and technology-based industries are usually at the forefront of using ICT in their production processes, more needs to be done, in addition to progressing the technology, to ensure wider uptake of ICT in manufacturing across non-tech industries and SMEs and across Europe.

•The Framework Programme for Research and Innovation H2020 (Regulation (EU) No 1291/2013) identifies Factories of the Future as a research area under ICT (FoF1, FoF8, FoF9) and NMK under the pillar "Leadership in enabling and industrial technologies").


Full-Time Equivalent: 
6.50 full-time equivalent (FTE)
WP14-15: 82M€ - under the Horizon 2020 pillar LEIT-FoF (ICT) (Topics FoF1, FoF8, FoF9, in collaboration with A1 and A2)

Collaboration with other units: Work in the domain of ICT for Factories of the Future is complementary to the activities addressed by

  • LEIT-ICT Challenge 6 Photonics (CNECT A1)
  • LEIT-ICT Challenge 5 Robotics (CNECT A2)
  • LEIT-ICT Challenge 1 (ICT1-CPS) (also CNECT A3)

Collaboration is also needed with horizontal units (F2, F3: H2020 strategy and innovation, A5: Administration and Finance).Collaboration with other DGs or agencies:

  • JU ECSEL in relation to embedded and CPS large scale federating projects and integrated demonstrations and pilots
  • DG RTD-D2 (joint responsibility for PPP FoF: RTD: ca. 60%, CNECT: ca. 40%)
  • DG ENTR-B3 (industrial policy – Task Force Advanced Manufacturing)
  • DG REGIO-G1 (integration of innovation and regional policies – combined use of structural funds and H2020 funds)

European Strategy for R&I on ICT for Factories of the Future

  • 2 networks of competence centres helping mid caps companies to experiment with ICT for manufacturing (I4MS)
  • 1 event every two years which shows achievements at programme level
  • Communication material on FoF-ICT ( 3 project blogs)
  • Bi-annual Work Programmes for FoF-ICT coordinated with FoF-NMK
  • High quality R&D&I projects addressing challenges identified in the FoF-ICT work programme.
  • Bi-annual portfolio analysis with an assessment of impact

Timeframe: 2013-2020



Participation patterns of independent experts

Target 50% with industrial background

Participation of SMEs and other industry in the Factories of the Futures projects

Target Industrial participation higher than 40% in 2014 going up to 50% by 2018, SMEs participation higher than 20% in 2014 going up to 30% by 2018.
Baseline 37% private commercial participation in the embedded systems SO (Stream report 2012)

Quality of the projects

Target 60% of the projects assessed as having achieved results rated "good", 20% excellent

Number of joint public-private publications

Target (same as other projects in ICT LEIT)
Baseline (same as other projects in ICT LEIT)

Average score of selected proposals in the last two calls

Coverage of the Work Programme text selected proposals

Target 80% coverage of the themes addressed by the relevant Calls

Meeting targets and deadlines during the evaluation and contracting process

Target 100%
Baseline 100%

Exploitation and value chains

Closing the gap between technological excellence and industrial opportunities including advancement of state of the art and development of industrial value chains and business ecosystems through co-operation between clusters and between industrial suppliers and users.

Timeframe: 2014-2020



Growth and job creation in participating SMEs

Bridging from discovery to market application

TRL (Technology Readiness Level) indicator

Take-up of ICT by European Manufacturing Companies (lead indicator)

Target 3% increase every 2 years (2020)
Baseline To be checked with Eurostat (2013)

Eurostat enterprise survey

Chart URL See the chart

Patent applications and patents awarded

Target Minimum 1 patent filed or start-up founded per 10 Million Euro spent (2018)

Share of participating firms introducing innovations new to the company or the market

Share of participating SMEs introducing innovations new to the company or the market

Target 25% (12/11/2014)
Baseline 15% (12/11/2014)
Current 15% (12/11/2014)

Innovation radar. The measurement on 12/11/2014 is based on the results of 7 projects.

Link to DG CONNECT's Top Level Targets

  • Europe 2020 - 75% of the population aged 20-64 should be employed Europe 2020
  • Europe 2020 - 3% of the EU's GDP should be invested in R&D, complemented by a future EU 2020 Headline Innovation Indicator
  • H2020 - By 2020, one third of all Europe's ICT business investment in ICT R&D in the EU should come from companies created within the last two decades