ELCA – European Lightweight Cluster Alliance – is a 2-year project funded under the “COSME” programme. The aim of the project is to prepare an international marketing strategy by a consortium created by five European industry clusters, establish cooperation between member companies of all clusters, prepare a joint offer and establish contacts with automotive, aero&aeronautics, railway and maritime concerns and also to promote European solutions in the field of light structures in transport, which aims at the reduction of CO2 emission and increase recycling, and thus fits into the concept of the circular economy.
Transport mobility is responsible for 24% of direct CO2 emissions from fuel combustion. By reducing the weight of parts and components (lightweighting), the mobility sector is able to tackle this challenge. During the last years, Europe has been progressing positively the lightweight research and industry, although with scattered effects and not at its full potential at global scale. The action seeks to foster the use of European lightweight products, technologies and services in 4 mobility sectors: aerospace & aeronautics, automotive, rail and maritime (Figure 1).
Figure 1. The 5 value chain stages in mobility for the lightweight solutions considered
To do so, the partnership aims to develop a joint marketing strategy for cluster internationalization, by targeting two types of markets outside the EU. For mature markets (USA and Japan as starting points), the action will look to commercialize innovative solutions (high TRL). For less mature markets (India and countries in Latin America as baseline), research-oriented solutions will be offered in order to establish R&D collaborations. In these regions, the partnership has already identified 35 clusters. The approach of the action is based on three phases. During the first phase, lightweight opportunities will be identified and the partnership will consolidate accordingly, aiming at start building a common branding and marketing strategy. Exploratory visits in third countries will take place during the second phase, with the aim of establishing cooperation and business agreements. In parallel, the partnership will connect with other partnerships and relevant stakeholders while adopting best practices. Based on the expertise gained during both phases, the third phase will focus on developing the joint internationalisation strategy and its roadmap for implementation. Towards the end of the third phase, a common branding “Lightweight made in Europe” will be established. The activities are organised in 5 work packages, in which 22 international missions and 18 national and regional events will be organised.
In order to foster the use of European lightweight solutions in third countries markets by developing a joint strategy for cluster internationalisation (OBJ. 1), the action aims to achieve the following specific objectives by 2022:
- OBJ. 2: To identify at least 20 lightweight opportunities (5 value chain stages x4 sectors) in at least 4 markets outside the EU (USA, Japan, India, and Latin America).
- OBJ. 3: To seek for at least 4 synergies with regional/local policy with the aim of adapting solutions to their respective environmental regulation framework.
- OBJ. 4: To increase the visibility of lightweight made in Europe in at least 4 regions (USA, Japan, India, and Latin America) with a single brand and joint marketing strategy.
The overall work plan consists of the following work packages:
The project lider is AMZ (Automotive Supplier Network Saxony) and other partners are: Bydgoszcz Industrial Cluster (BIC), CLUSTER-MECH (Associazione Clust-ER Meccatronica e Motoristica), MAV (Advanced Materials Cluster of Catalonia) and PLA (Plastipolis).