Industry leaders gather at Advanced Factories

In a world where technologies change from one day to the next, constant adaptability is necessary to achieve net zero goals in the manufacturing industry.

During the 8th edition of Advanced Factories, held from April 9-11 in Barcelona, EIT Manufacturing played a pivotal role in shaping a greener and more competitive European manufacturing landscape. With Advanced Factories being the leading event for Industry 4.0, drawing significant attendance and leading advancements in industrial automation and robotics in southern Europe, EIT Manufacturing took the stage in key sessions at the Industry 4.0 Congress. Discussions encompassed the crucial link between innovation and achieving net zero objectives, as well as the integration of artificial intelligence in the manufacturing sector.

Additionally, EIT Manufacturing collaborated with ACCIÓ (the public agency for competitiveness of Catalan enterprise) to host the Open Innovation Challenge, where startups collaborating with both organisations presented innovative solutions to industry challenges during the Industry 4.0 Startups Pitch Session.

#NetZero: Innovation alone or something more?

During the panel discussion ‘Transforming Industries: Innovation for Net Zero’ moderated by Blanca Chocarro, EIT Community Senior Program Manager at EIT Manufacturing, participants including Aitor Lasaosa, Researcher and Ph.D. in Applied Engineering at the Ceit technology center, Carlos Méndez, Chief Sales Officer at Aritex, Mikel Llona, Co-founder and CEO of Birziplastik, and Luis Romeral, Associate Professor at UPC and Director of MCIA, provided insights into the pivotal role of innovation in achieving net zero emissions. While Lasaosa and Méndez highlighted innovation’s significance in addressing technological challenges, they stressed the need of incentives and legislative support to facilitate its adoption. On his side, Llona highlighted the strategic importance of innovation across the entire production chain, emphasizing a shift towards quality-focused production. Meanwhile, Romeral underscored universities’ critical role in fostering innovation through ongoing research efforts. Thus, while innovation is fundamental, a comprehensive approach that integrates incentives, legislative backing, quality-centric production, and research is crucial for achieveing net zero objectives.

Luis Romeral, Aitor Lasaosa, Mikel Llona, Carlos Méndez and Blanca Chocarro on stage.

Realistic strategies for achieving these objectives

Roundtable concluced with a focus on key aspects essential for achieving a net zero future. The speakers highlighted the challenge faced by small companies in integrating innovation and the need for support to mitigate associated costs and emphasized the importance of practical approaches to innovation and effective risk management. They stressed the necessity for proper planning in the innovation process, considering factors such as technological readiness, risks, and economic viability and underscored the importance of educating companies about the timeline and feasibility of implementing available solutions. The round table also remarked the need of a European policy framework to support innovation, particularly addressing the challenges encountered by small and medium-sized enterprises in Spain.

#AI: Discussing Europe’s artificial ingellicence policy landscape

Antoni Pijoan, Managing Director of EIT Manufacturing West, participated in a panel discussion titled ‘The Impact of AI on European Industry: Policies and Support for Innovation’, where he presented EIT Manufacturing’s initiatives related with AI, including the EIT Community Artificial Intelligence and the SYDITIL innovation project. During the session, Pijoan addressed widespread apprehension surrounding AI, affirming its growing presence in industry while highlighting concerns about data ownership and management. Despite Europe’s relatively favorable position regarding AI, he emphasized the need to develop industry data spaces to clarify data ownership. The discussion also centered on the European Commission’s AI Act, aiming to ensure safe and ethical AI use while fostering investment and innovation. The Act, effective from 2026, classifies AI based on risk levels, with specific regulations for each category, including minimal risk, limited risk, high risk, and unacceptable risk. Prohibited applications specified by the European Parliament aim to safeguard citizens’ rights and democracy, including certain biometric recognition systems.

Startups showcasing groundbreaking solutions

During the Open Innovation Challenge organised by EIT Manufacturing and ACCIÓ, a vibrant showcase of entrepreneurial spirit unfolded at the Industry 4.0 Startups Pitch session within the ACCIÓ space. Approximately 50 attendees, along with passersby intrigued by the event, gathered to explore the innovative solutions presented during the session. Among the participating startups collaborating with EIT Manufacturing were: Azitek, CarbonCompeteEnergiencyKheoos, and Trinov. These startups showcased an array of groundbreaking solutions, each contributing to the evolution of Industry 4.0.

ACCIÓ stage at Advanced Factories