Commision and Robotics Community Commit to a Stronger Robotics Sector

Encouraged by the success of EUROP and EURON, two earlier organisation representing European industry and European research separately, the European Commission on one side (the “public” side, and European industry and academia on the other, the “private” side, had agreed in early 2012 to launch a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) in Robotics under Horizon 2020, to motivate Europe-based companies take a larger share of the rapidly growing global robotics market.

On 17 September 2012, robotics industry, research, and academia joined together in establishing the private side of this public-private partnership by founding euRobotics AISBL in Brussels. 

To show its willingness to collaborate towards a contractual PPP, one day after the establishment of the legal entity representing the private side, the Commission signed a Memorandum of Understanding with euRobotics AISBL on 18 September. 2012. In her key-note speech to over 100 participants at the event in Brussels, Neelie Kroes, Commissioner for Digital Agenda, stated:  "A strong robotics industry is key to Europe's future competitiveness. Growing our robotics industry means new jobs and a strong European manufacturing sector.  Three millions jobs are created or maintained worldwide as a result of using one million industrial robots. Europe's robotics industry is highly successful, accounting for about a quarter of the global production in industrial robotics and a 50% market share in professional service robotics. The domestic and professional service robot markets are expected to grow by 40% in the coming years with the strongest growth in rescue, security and professional cleaning applications." 

She also mentioned the importance of having more young people, especially young women, pursuing careers in engineering, science, and technology and stated that the European Robotics Week provides the perfect tool to achieve this goal.

In short speeches, Dr Bernd Liepert (KUKA CTO, euRobotics President), and Prof Herman Bruyninckx (KU Leuven, euRobotics Vice President Research) presented their views focusing on robotics industry and academia respectively.  They both joined commissioner Kroes in signing the Memorandum of Understanding.

The event was accompanied by a robot exhibition, which the Commissioner visited. Ten advanced robotics exhibits were brought to the Concert Noble and provided the right atmosphere for this milestone event in European robotics.


Preparing the Partnership

Within the subsequent 10 months, euRobotics AISBL started an open consultation process to prepare the programme for the PPP in Robotics. The PPP on Robotics is based on a Strategic Research Agenda “SRA” and a multi-annual Roadmap “MAR” for research and innovation activities. Both documents were drafted by initial Topic Groups, constituted of members of euRobotics AISBL and external experts. This process was to be formally adopted for the whole period of Horizon 2020 once the proposal was accepted by the Commission.

The application was formally submitted to the Commission on 12 June 2013. A subsequent evaluation by the European Commission with the help of independent experts concluded that the Partnership be formally adopted by means of a formal contract.

Signing the contractual Public Private Partnership in Robotics

Signing the contractual Public Private Partnership in Robotics

Finally, on 17 December 2013, the European Commission signed the contract for a Public Private Partnership with euRobotics AISBL for a strategic alliance in robotics. The partnership will leverage more than €700 million of public investments to be allocated through calls for proposals under Horizon 2020, the new EU programme for research and innovation. Each euro of public funding is expected to trigger additional investments of three or more Euro to develop new robotic technologies, products and services which will give European industry a leading position on world markets.

Vice President Neelie Kroes, Commissioner responsible for the Digital Agenda, signed the contract together with Bernd Liepert, President of euRobotics AISBL. She said: "This is a great opportunity for Europe. These PPPs will maintain our global lead in robotics, photonics, high performance computing, telecoms and give us a head start in smart cities, intelligent transport, education, entertainment, media and other promising markets. Combined with a comprehensive industrial strategy, the PPPs will ensure vigorous European leadership and a better future for all."

The contractual PPPs do not organise their own calls but funding is awarded by the Commission through open calls under the Horizon 2020 Work Programme. The first Horizon 2020 Work Programme for 2014-15, published on 11 December, foresees around €1.45 billion for the eight contractual Public-Private Partnerships.

To check the current list of members of euRobotics AISBL please click here.

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