A Dutch consortium consisting of private-sector companies, research institutes, two colleges and a university has been granted â‚¬ 2,354,471 in subsidies by the EU’s European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) for the Automated Composite Manufacturing (ACM) Pilot Plant project in Marknesse, the Netherlands. NLR-Netherlands Aerospace Centre is the initiator of the project, which has a total investment outlay of â‚¬ 5.9 million. The ERDF subsidy will be used to conduct research into the automation of composite product manufacturing processes. The ACM Pilot Plant is one of the first so called ‘Smart Industry Field Labs’ to be created in the west of the Netherlands under the Smart Industry policy of the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs. It is also the first project in the province of Flevoland to be approved in the new subsidy eligibility period.
Light-weight, cheaper composite products
The purpose of this project is to develop, until the market introduction stage, new composite products that are lighter and/or more affordable than other products currently available on the market. Field Labs are working environments where private-sector companies and knowledge institutes can jointly develop, test and implement specific Smart Industry solutions. These environments strengthen links between research, education and policy on specific Smart Industry themes. NLR’s ACM Pilot Plant will be used in many project activities. The plant was opened in early 2015, thanks in part to support from the Flevoland provincial authority and a joint venture with Fokker Landing Gear.
NLR is collaborating on this ERDF-subsidized project with Fokker Landing Gear, Label Breed / Kaptein Roodnat, Ampyx Power, PAL-V, Corellian, Bright Composites, VABO Composites and Omron Europe. The Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research (TNO), Delft University of Technology, Fontys University of Applied Sciences and Windesheim University of Applied Sciences are also contributing through various research and education projects.
The ACM Pilot Plant project will strengthen the competitiveness and capacity for innovation of the regional manufacturing industry, and will support the provincial authority’s policy of putting Flevoland on the map as Europe’s main hub for composite product research and development.
Regional job creation and opportunities for SMEs
“The Netherlands Aerospace Centre is important to the economy of northern Flevoland, both as a knowledge institute and as a driver of job creation”, said Jan-Nico Appelman, a member of the Flevoland Provincial Executive. “The Field Lab will give regional small and medium-sized enterprises access to facilities that would otherwise be out of reach or far too expensive. The provincial authority is therefore very pleased with this contribution to the further development of NLR’s Field Lab.”
Aucke van der Werff, the mayor of Noordoostpolder municipality, is also happy with the EU’s contribution to high-quality jobs in the region. “The subsidy grant will strengthen our position in the composite products sector, and will provide a boost to the regional economy.”
The ACM Pilot Plant project ties in with the Flevoland Economic Agenda 2012—2015 and the CompoWorld programme, which is supported by the Flevoland provincial authority.
The ACM Pilot Plant project has also been granted subsidy under the ‘Western Netherlands Opportunities Programme’, a joint project of four Dutch provincial authorities (North Holland, South Holland, Utrecht and Flevoland) and the country’s four largest cities (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht). This programme aims to bolster the regional economy of the Randstad conurbation by promoting innovation, and is largely funded by the European Regional Development Fund.