EIT Manufacturing CEO’s message
In September 2023, EIT Manufacturing CEO Caroline Viarouge shares her view on the manufacturing industry in Europe and the directions EIT Manufacturing is taking as a purpose-driven organisation.
It has been about four months since I became CEO of EIT Manufacturing, a young and strong community that has been enabling and connecting European manufacturing SMEs, corporate players and entrepreneurs with innovation, research, learning and access-to-market opportunities since 2020.
While we see the manufacturers’ willingness to transition into a more sustainable industry that produces responsively and adopts circular economy principles to transform Europe into the world’s first climate neutral continent, there are many challenges we need to manage and overcome before we truly get there.
I started in my new role fully aware of the turbulent times and difficulties the manufacturing industry is going through, facing rising energy costs, supply chain disruption and adoption of advance manufacturing technologies and automation. I am excited about making the difference, the opportunities the manufacturing of tomorrow brings and the journey ahead.
This summer, as I joined EIT Manufacturing, I spend the first few weeks visiting our six European offices, meeting with the teams, partners and supported startups, listening to opportunities and challenges they experience.
Two topics were amongst the most reoccurring conversations I had with our partners: talent shortages – how to find and recruit students and talent, and financing innovations and startups that will make the difference. Indeed, Europe requires a highly skilled workforce, and the majority of the workforce needs to acquire and develop new skills to be able to engage in new activities that are emerging as a result of the twin transition, which is both digital and green. Also, financing of entrepreneurs has become more challenging, with the increase of interest rate and higher cautiousness of private investors.
EIT Manufacturing is committed to support its partners with a number of talent reskilling and upskilling initiatives. A noteworthy initiative led by the EIT and coordinated by EIT Manufacturing is the EIT’s Deep Tech Talent Initiative, which is part of the European Commission’s New European Innovation Agenda, promoting institutional change in higher education to increase the innovation capacity of the higher education sector. We are also committed to reinforce our financial support for innovative solutions with our Call for Proposals and start-up funding to foster the twin transition.
We believe in people-centric innovation, green technologies that serve the needs of humans and our society, and the importance of empowering diversity and elevating the role of women in the manufacturing industry. And we would like to make EIT Manufacturing known for driving these initiatives.
We have a clear vision of turning EIT Manufacturing into a purpose-driven organisation that improves people’s lives through sustainable manufacturing.
How will we do this? We will continue to nurture the European manufacturing community across the value chain. We have also revisited and redefined our Strategic Agenda published in 2021, as in the past two years the European manufacturing industry was confronted with dramatic changes.
Looking forward, sustainability and environmental concerns, resources scarcity and energy prices will continue to reshape the industry and drive demand for innovative solutions in energy sourcing, reducing waste and preserving resources. Other shifts in the manufacturing industry will be triggered by rapid developments and regulations in robotics, digitalisation and AI; and the recent EU AI act – the first of its kind in the world – is a good example of that.
In EIT Manufacturing, we are setting three main objectives that will define everything we do.
- Put people at the centre of manufacturing innovation;
- Accelerate green manufacturing;
- Foster competitiveness and sovereignty.
Our objectives drive me personally as EIT Manufacturing CEO. To me, it means achieving net zero, empowering diversity & inclusion to stimulate innovation in manufacturing, grow the manufacturing community and foster collaboration to help European manufacturers accelerate and play a key role in the transition to a future-proof industry.
EIT Manufacturing is now transitioning to become a service organisation. It is essential for us to focus on the quality of services we deliver and establish the culture of continuous improvements – to live up to the growing expectations and make EIT Manufacturing a trusted partner that is easy to work with.
Caroline Viarouge, EIT Manufacturing CEO