The European Commission works on a range of actions as part of its strategy to trigger the manufacturing of KETs-based products in Europe. These actions include supporting investments in KETs and enhancing the policy environment, helping small businesses access KETs technology platforms, promoting multidisciplinary skills for KETs, stimulating important industrial projects and ensuring a level playing field for KETs.
The EU has made it a priority to ensure that key funding programmes such as Horizon 2020 and the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) offer specific support for projects related to Key Enabling Technologies (KETs). KETs have also been identified as a priority by the European Investment Bank (EIB). State aid policy has been modernised allowing EU countries to better support KETs-investments.
Access to KETs technology platforms offers huge opportunities to small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs). They can use the platforms to test their ideas and turn them into innovative goods and services. The Commission aims to improve SME access to KETs technology platforms through various actions: the SME instrument of Horizon 2020, an assessment of how to streamline EU platforms to meet the needs of SMEs, and the creation of an inventory of KETs technology platforms open to SMEs.
Different KETs technologies can be combined to create value beyond the sum of their parts. This is known as ‘cross-cutting KETs’ and it offers even greater possibilities for innovation. The Commission is working on two key cross-cutting KETs initiatives:
Europe faces a shortage of entrepreneurs and skilled labour capable of handling the highly multi-disciplinary nature of KETs. The Commission:
Europe is not alone in understanding the importance of KETs and many non-EU countries have adopted policies designed to attract foreign investment in KETs that distort the market for KETs-related industries. The European Commission works ensure a level playing field for KETs by examining trade policy and negotiating trade agreements, and modernising state aid rules.
The KETs Observatory is an online tool that provides information to policymakers and businesses on the performance of EU countries and competing economies on the deployment of KETs
It covers five domains: patents, trade, production, demand and business performance. For each domain, four core indicators are calculated: significance, specialisation, market share, and dynamics. Import share, export share and the trade balance are also provided to complement the core indicators.
Advanced manufacturing is one of the six KETs. Advanced manufacturing for clean production includes activities that enable companies to improve productivity, boost production volume and speed, lower energy and materials consumption, increase operating precision, decrease waste, improve pollution management, and enable resource-efficient and low emission production. It is an important part of the Commission's efforts to accelerate the modernisation of EU manufacturing companies.
A special Task Force was established in 2013 to promote coherency and coordination in developing and implementing a policy line for advanced manufacturing. The Task Force also aimed to leverage the efforts undertaken by EU countries in this area. After consulting with industry and stakeholders, the Task Force prepared the report, 'Advancing Manufacturing, Advancing Europe' in 2014. The report takes stock of the main EU level activities undertaken in this area.