Connecting local businesses into the global energy efficiency network with the Mechatronics Cluster

The ERDF-funded Mechatronics Cluster in Lower Austria has brought local companies in Austria into collaborative global projects, in order to highlight the economic and environmental benefits of energy efficiency and ensure that lessons learned would be carried on into the future.

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The Mechatronics Cluster aims to keep innovative jobs in Lower Austria through supporting R&D projects. © Cluster Programme Lower Austria The Mechatronics Cluster aims to keep innovative jobs in Lower Austria through supporting R&D projects. © Cluster Programme Lower Austria

" The long-term key social benefit target has been to keep industry and jobs in the region. In a globalised world, we face the challenge of losing production and jobs to low-cost regions. Environmental regulations can be a driver for innovation and competitiveness, if companies are given the right framework conditions. The Mechatronics-Cluster contributes to this by connecting local as well as European know-how at an early stage and initiating collaboration. People cooperate and learn from each other. This creates new dynamics and outstanding results. "

Harald Bleier, Mechatronics-Cluster Manager, ecoplus. The Business Agency of Lower Austria

Mechatronics Cluster is managed by Business Upper Austria and the Lower Austrian business agency ecoplus. Some 334 members currently benefit from this cross-regional cluster initiative. The Lower Austrian part of the initiative was financed by the region’s Cluster Programme 2007-2014 and co-financed by the ERDF.

The Mechatronics Cluster initiative addresses mechanical engineering, plant building and other related business branches such as equipment and apparatus construction, technology and component supply, R&D, education and training. Before this project began, a mapping study identified sufficient potential for a cluster initiative, as well as a need for business support. 

Raising energy efficiency awareness

In recent years, local companies in the Lower Austrian region have become increasingly energy conscious in part due to the recent Austrian Energy Efficiency Law. A key motivation of this project was to ensure that local companies operating in the mechatronics sector were well prepared to meet the new requirements. 

In order to accomplish this, activities were organised to help local businesses implement energy management systems according to ISO 50001 standards, while international collaborative R&D projects were established to help foster practical tools and methods for energy monitoring, planning and management. 

Long term benefits 

The end result is that many companies in the region now see measuring energy consumption and identifying inefficiency as the starting point for achieving productivity improvements and process innovation, and have the know-how to make this happen. Some 80 companies in the region have benefited from improved energy efficiency monitoring and management.

A number of concrete results have been achieved. These include the establishment of a research group specialised in energy efficiency at the Technical University of Vienna (TU Wien). This group carries out R&D projects with companies from all over Austria and offers training and education courses.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “The Mechatronics-Cluster in Lower Austria” is EUR 2 150 000, of which the European Regional Development Fund is contributing EUR 600 000 from the Operational Programme “Lower Austria” for the 2007 to 2013 programming period.

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