In the framework of ROP Norte 2007-2013, a number of measures were funded in order to promote the use of innovative technologies to improve products and processes in industry. For instance, in the context of incentive measures addressed to companies to foster RTD, innovation and modernisation activities (“SI I&DT”, “SI Inovação” and “SI Qualificação”), about 3,600 projects were supported during that period.
Within the new ROP Norte 2014-2020, measures that are particularly addressed to companies (e.g. Incentives System for Research and Technological Development, Incentives System for SMEs Qualification, and Productive Innovation for large companies and SMEs) support actions such as development of new products and processes, new organisational models, ICT development, energy efficiency, use of renewable resources, enhanced environmental performance, better waste management, noise reduction, use of eco-efficient technologies, etc.
Under RIS3 Norte there is a priority domain for advanced manufacturing, which includes advanced manufacturing systems, nanotechnology, materials, ICT and other key enabling technologies. There are other specialisation areas where advanced manufacturing is present. Just to mention a few examples, in the area of “mobility industries and environment” it is expected that through the use of existing scientific capabilities in the fields of manufacturing technologies and materials, the industries of automotive components and moulds are upgraded. In the “Culture, Design and Fashion” area it is expected to better exploit creative industries, new materials and innovative manufacturing technologies in order to gain competitive advantage in sectors connected to design based consumer goods, such as textiles and clothing, footwear, accessories, furniture and jewellery.
Clusters based in the region are also contributing to advanced manufacturing, in particular regarding increased productivity, less production and development costs, acceleration in launching new products, and better dissemination of technology. This is the case of clusters in the health, railway, wine, footwear and fashion, sea, Smart Cities, textile, technology and fashion, motor, production technologies, agro-food, and creative industries that are based in the region. In particular, the role of the PCT on “production and manufacturing technologies” (“Produtech”) should be highlighted. “Produtech” supports research and other innovation activities in industrial firms such as development, technology adaptation and integration, industrial tests, demonstration, etc.
The region encompasses a number of research and technological infrastructures that provide a wide range of services to industry such as promotion of new products, processes and services; development, test and demonstration of production processes; and new production technologies. These infrastructures include for instance INESC TEC – Technology and Science; INEGI - Institute of Mechanical Engineering and Industrial Management; CITEVE – Textile and Clothing Technology Centre; CATIM - Technology Centre for Metal Industry; CEIIA – Centre for Excellence and Innovation in the Automotive Industry; and CTC - Footwear Technology Centre.
Furthermore, research and applied research targeted at process innovation in regional factories and technology transfer activities are also undertaken at some of the above mentioned entities, as well as at the main public universities based in the region: University of Porto, University of Minho and University of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro (UTAD).
According to the Smart Specialisation Platform for Industrial Modernisation, Norte is one of the leading regions regarding High Performance Production through 3D Printing (the region has defined a RIS3 priority related with advanced production systems that can also be related with this thematic area). It is also one of the participating regions in the following four Thematic Areas: ADMA Energy; Efficient and Sustainable Manufacturing (related with the RIS3 priority advanced production systems); New nano-enabled Products; and Smart Regional Investments in Textile Innovation (related with the RIS3 priority culture, design and fashion)