Report on the EPoSS Annual Forum 2014: Positive feedback from participants, speakers, organisers, sponsors and contributors

The EPoSS General Assembly, Annual Forum & Engagement Day took place in Turin, 24-26 September 2014. It was the 9th annual event since the launch of the European Technology Platform in July 2006 and the second since the founding of the EPoSS Association in September 2013.

The 2014 edition of the EPoSS Annual Forum took place in Turin at the Centro Congressi Lingotto, and already the conference location was one of the many highlights of the event. The "Lingotto", which was designed by young architect Matté Trucco and built between 1917 and 1920, was at the time the biggest and most modern automotive factory worldwide. Between 1923 and 1982 some 80 FIAT models were built there. Today the "Lingotto", which still belongs to FIAT, is no longer a factory, but a multifunctional centre, including a congress centre, a shopping mall, and two hotels. And the 1 km test track on the roof of the building is now used by joggers, skaters and tourists.

The motto of this year's EPoSS annual event was Best Practices in the European Smart Systems Integration Ecosystem: From Education to Markets", and like the event two years ago in Paris, it featured not only the EPoSS General Assembly, Annual Forum and meetings of the six EPoSS Working Groups, but also an Engagement Day - this year organised by the EC funded Coordination Action Mobilising Expert Resources in the European Smart Systems Integration Ecosystem (EXPRESS). In addition to the conference part, there also was an exhibition with more than 20 exhibitors (posters, demonstrators and booths from the regional mechatronics cluster MESAP, the Piemonte region, and the ECSEL Joint Undertaking).

The three-day event was co-organised and sponsored by EPoSS, EXPRESS, the Smart EV-VC project whose final event was hosted by the EPoSS Working Group Automotive, and by the following organisations from the hosting region / country:

  • Unione Camere Piemonte,
  • Centro Estero Internazionalizzazione Piemonte,
  • Republica Italiana,
  • Torino Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Crafts and Agriculture,
  • Regione Piemonte,
  • MESAP.

It attracted some 170 participants from 16 countries, representing over 100 organisations active in the field of Smart Systems Integration.

Naturally, the largest number of participants was from Italy and in particular from the Piemonte region. That way, two major activity sectors of the region were very well represented, namely the automotive and mechatronics sectors, and here the full value chain from design to manufacture is present. The region proved to have an extremely well-functioning regional ecosystem, with strong players from industry and research, and with strong cooperation links.

The immense interest from local players became also obvious when not only 7 printed and online journals and newspapers published articles on the event, but also the local television Rete 7 Piemonte brought a 10 min broadcast on the EPoSS Annual Forum at breakfast time on the following day.

It is mentionable that 53% of the organisations were companies, and another 11% were clusters, ETPs or industry associations. These strong multiplier organisations together represent several thousand organisations in their regions or countries, which specialise on Smart Systems Integration related topics. Most of the members of these clusters are companies, and in fact most are SMEs or micro companies. Through these multiplier organisations the EPoSS event achieves further impact beyond the individual participating organisations also towards the many organisations, which are too small to send a delegate. It also confirms that the Smart Systems Integration ecosystem in Europe is becoming stronger, better linked, and more consolidated.

Type of organisations represented

Altogether the event included some 50 presentations in six thematic sessions and in four working group meetings.

The invited talks in the opening session were an excellent kick-off for the conference, since they covered the technical and regional perspective with industry presentations on Smart Systems Integration in the key sectors automotive and manufacturing as well as the political perspective with presentations from the European Commission, the ECSEL JU and the regional public authorities. Speakers in this session were:

  • Carmelo Papa, EPoSS Chairman, Executive Vice President, Industrial and Power General Manager, STMicroelectronics, Switzerland
  • Giuseppina De Santis, Regione Piemonte, Councillor for Productive Activities, Energy, Innovation, Research, Relationships with Universities and R&D Centers, Italy
  • Guido Bolatto, Secretary General, Torino Chamber of Commerce, Italy
  • Khalil Rouhana, Director Components & Systems, European Commission, DG CONNECT, Belgium
  • Nevio Di Giusto, Chief Executive Officer, Centro Ricerche Fiat S.C.p.A., Italy
  • Federico Galliano, Government Relations Manager, GM Powertrain Europe, Italy
  • Maurizio Gattiglio, Executive Vice President, Prima Industrie S.p.A., EFFRA Chairman, Italy
  • Dario Scapaticci, Technology Manager, MESAP, Italy
  • Alun Foster, Head of Plans and Dissemination, ECSEL Joint Undertaking, Belgium
The four subsequent thematic sessions were made up of selected presentations from this year's EPoSS Call for PresentationsBest Practices in the European Smart Systems Integration Ecosystem: From Education to Markets", complemented by further invited talks. Together these technical presentations addressed key application areas such as mobility, health, internet of things and robotics. The speakers presented new Smart Systems, smart enabled products and solutions, as well as success stories from their organisations.

Speakers in these sessions were:

The following EPoSS working group meetings took place in the framework of the conference.

  • Meeting of the EPoSS Working Group Automotive, which hosted the Final Event of the EC funded Coordination Action Smart EV-VC
  • Joint Meeting of the EPoSS Working Groups Healthy Living and Applied MNBS
  • Joint Meeting of the EPoSS Working Groups Manufacturing & Robotics and Communications for Smart Devices
  • Meeting of the EPoSS Working Group Key Technologies

This year, the EPoSS Working Groups explicitly opened their meetings to all registered delegates, and the WG Chairmen selected further presentations from the Call for Presentations for their meetings. Hence the Working Group meetings included the following presentations:

The EPoSS Engagement Day in the morning of 26 September 2014, which was organised by the EXPRESS project, comprised two sessions dedicated to stakeholder engagement.

The first session on "Engagement Opportunities in the Smart Systems Integration Ecosystem" started with a brief recap by EXPRESS coordinator and session chair Petra Weiler of VDI/VDE-IT in Germany on results achieved in the first 9 months of the project - from the development of a vision and mission statement, to an in-depth assessment of the Smart Systems Integration ecosystem in Europe, an augmented SRA, a strategy and implementation plan and a concept of a knowledge gateway.

The first presentation was given by Associated EXPRESS Partner David Topham from the UK on a Smart Systems Integration knowledge gateway, which is being developed in the framework of the EXPRESS project. The knowledge gateway will provide customised information for the very diverse players within the Smart Systems Integration ecosystem, be it educators, investors, regulators, R&D staff, designers, or manufacturers. The knowledge gateway will also provide a competence radar, which will show all actors with their competences in a map.

The second presentation by Philippe Fischer of EXPRESS partner FSRM in Switzerland provided an overview of cooperation opportunities within the ecosystem. It was complemented by an interactive part, in which participants were invited to provide in a dedicated template information on their organisation's profile together with that of a future cooperation partner. Some 30 forms were filled by the participants and collected for a subsequent matching exercise within EXPRESS.

The third presentation of the session by Chris Merveille of EXPRESS partner IK4-IKERLAN in Spain was on the so-called "Augmented SRA" (SRA = Strategic Research Agenda) for the European Smart Systems Integration Ecosystem. Through an analysis of 77 SRAs of other European Technology Platforms, networks or clusters, and based on the EPoSS SRA, this augmented SRA identifies links, application opportunities, drivers, barriers and technology challenges for Smart Systems Integration in the short-, mid- and long-term time scales in the many activity domains of the 77 analysed SRAs. Not surprisingly, this presentation received very broad interest from the audience.

Note: Parallel to this session in Turin, a similar action was organised by the EXPRESS partners at Micronora in Besançon, France. In Besançon, nearly 20 forms were collected. This large number of expressions of interest demonstrates that there is great interest in cooperation within the ecosystem.

The second session actually was a Stakeholder Consultation Workshop on Smart Systems in the H2020 LEIT ICT Work Programme 2016-2017. It included a presentation by Willy van Puymbroeck, Head of Unit Components at DG CONNECTon "Smart Systems – Status on the Preparation of the Work Programme 2016-2017" and a presenatation by Günter Lugert of Siemens AG, who is the Chairman of the EPoSS Executive Committee on "EPoSS Priorities for Smart Systems Research in the Work Programme 2016-2017 of Horizon 2020".

This latter presentation introduced the audience to a concept that was developed for identifying research priorities to be recommended for the LEIT ICT Work Programme 2016-2017, namely to analyse the EPoSS SRA and ECSEL MASRIA with the aim of identifying which research priorities need to be covered in “lower” TRL projects supported in the LEIT ICT Work Programme in order to provide the foundation for “higher” TRL projects supported in ECSEL. It also introduced the concept, requirements, and proposed process for the subsequent workshop part.

In the workshop part, the audience split into two groups. One group discussed and commented, expanded and voted on a list of 11 suggested research topics for RIA and IA type of actions. The second group did a similar exercise on a list of 31 strategic goals and recommended actions put forward as potential topics for CSA type actions.

The results of the stakeholder consultation workshop at the EPoSS Engagement Day 2014 was evaluated, further refined in additional feedback loops, and developed into the EPoSS Call Recommendations for Horizon 2020 LEIT ICT Work Programme 2016/17 that were submitted to the European Commission in January 2015.