Alliance for Materials (A4M)
- The collaboration was initiated by a number of ETP’s that have a strong Materials agenda.
- The driver for this collaboration was to ensure a Value Chain coverage to improve the speed of implementation of innovations in Europe that address the Grand Societal challenges.
- Relevant technological initiatives are underway and further will appear to tackle the identified challenges. In almost any of these, the proposed innovative solutions have demanding requirements in terms of Materials needs. Many of these solutions will fail or will not be fully implemented if suitable and proper Materials are not available on time
- Even if the related industries belonging to A4M will have competitive activities the A4M group regards the complementary aspects to be of higher importance: the collaboration impact is stronger than the sum of the individual contributions
- Materials R&D is by definition a crosscutting and enabling technology area which affects almost every industrial sector. The achievement of effective coordination between different sectors, while maintaining the relative autonomy, interests and strategies of each, is an essential condition to achieve the best and most effective use of community resources in Materials R&D targeted at making effective contributions to the SGCs
- A4M intends to contribute and to provide an effective answer to this coordination need, in the frame of the present and future European research and innovation programme and initiatives
- Among the fundamental concepts of A4M is the Value Chain concept. It is regarded as the key element driving the expected synergy through a common path which integrates actors, resources and strategies from the fundamental aspects of materials science up to the industrial system which produce and/or transform the materials into valuable products, acting as a key driver of the final innovation processes.
- The integration of actors along the Value Chain can make a key contribution to improve the speed to market for European Innovations and specifically those where private and public jointly address the Grand Societal Challenges. This integration will contribute to overcome some limitations existing in today’s research and innovation programmers which are still mostly sectorial driven.
Vision and objectives
To contribute to create the conditions for an effective integration of stakeholders, views and resources in the field of Materials R&D at the EU level
- Stakeholders: any subject/system directly or indirectly involved in the process of increasing knowledge on materials, producing materials, processing and/or transforming materials, using materials and any form of their aggregation (i.e. ETPs)
- Views: any technological, industrial, commercial strategy which deal with materials R&D and/or count on that
- Resources: any programme, initiative or financial tools, at national or EU level, able to support the R&D and innovation processes in the field of Materials R&D
A4M does not intend to be an overall structure to meltdown all the different actors of the Materials R&D community, but it intends to become a single table where all the relevant different initiatives are shared and discussed with the whole community of R&D actors with an interest in Materials, giving a central role to other players in the value chain too. These are the ones who typically do not regard materials R&D as their business, but operate in materials production and/or transformation of materials into valuable products/solutions.
Only with a real integration of the different parts of the value chain will it be possible to realise value from concept and design supporting initiatives, avoiding dispersion of resources, focussing research in the right directions and aligning R&D interests with real industrial needs and views.
In this context, A4M welcomes and supports in principle any initiatives launched by the different actors of the value chain in the field of materials R&D but providing these initiatives have been shared and discussed within the A4M concepts.
For all the above mentioned reasons A4M is a natural candidate to be a credible partner in supporting the definition and implementation of current and future Commission programmes/initiatives in Materials R&D and Innovation.
The strategic value of A4M objectives deals with the need to define a long term strategy for A4M that could bring to a decision the need to consolidate/evolve A4M into a firm system/organisation. This possibility is already part of the A4M vision.
Organization and structure
- The original initiators of the A4M initiative are six European Technology Platforms with a strong materials agenda in their respective strategies. These are: EuMaT, Suschem, Manufuture, FTC, ESTEP and SMR
- The A4M activity is managed by a Management Board [A4M - MB] composed by a maximum of two representatives from each of the six platforms.
- The operational process of A4M is based on general consensus among the MB members
- A4M does not act on behalf of the single ETPs. This ensures the independence of its decision making action
- There is no power of signature for the MB members. Any position/document with a potential political and/or commitment value has to be signed by the corresponding ETPs official representative (Chairman, General Secretary, etc. ). Derogation can be authorised, case by case, by the corresponding ETPs if justified.
The original vision of A4M already envisages an ‘evolution concept’ which identifies several steps to be implemented along a timeline, in accordance with the following conceptual scheme:
Phase 1 - A4M definition and start-up
This action has been inspired by the initiative of the six core group ETPs (EuMaT, Suschem, Manufuture, FTC, ESTEP, SMR). The core group has acted as initiator and catalysers of concrete initiatives aiming to create visibility for A4M towards European Commission services, other ETPs, and any potential relevant stakeholders belonging to European materials community at R&D and industrial level.
Phase 2 - A4M evolution along the different value chains
- Value chain - A4MEnergy
The energy sector has been identified and selected as test case for promoting the A4M vision and initiative along the value chain of the energy sector with the aim to create synergy among the different actors involved in Materials for Energy R&D actions
- Value chain expansion
A4M does not target one single value chain sector but it is potentially open to cover any (industrial) sector where a synergistic action between the different actors could generate added value compared to the actions of the individual actors.
In this phase the Energy pilot experience will be then be extended to other sectors such as Transport, Construction and others to be defined later
Phase 3 – Long Term Strategy
- Should A4M have demonstrated its role as fundamental enabler within the scenario of European Materials R&D, A4M could (and should) enter into a new structuring phase aiming to evolve towards an extended stable structure able to guarantee the long term existence of the benefits of the approach proposed.