Over 20 service sector companies receive three million euros of funding from ERDF funds to boost R&D in Catalonia
- Over 20 service companies, technology companies and research organisations in Catalonia make up the RIS3CAT Utilities 4.0 Community to implement the industry 4.0 paradigm in Catalan society in the provision of basic services and resources.
- The initiative aims to have a real impact across Catalan society and position it as an international benchmark by implementing the ‘living services’ concept.
- The RIS3CAT Utilities 4.0 Community is one of the six new RIS3CAT Communities accredited by the Regional Government of Catalonia through ACCIÓ (the region’s business competitiveness agency), a strategy allocating a budget of 24 million euros from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) for Catalonia to this second round of funding.
Over 20 organisations, including service companies, technology companies and research organisations in Catalonia, make up the Utilities 4.0 Community, which was set up to transform the service sector in the medium term and implement the industry 4.0 paradigm in Catalan society in the provision of basic services and resources.
The initiative will have a total budget of 9.8 million euros, of which 3.8 million come from the ERDF funds allocated to Catalonia for boosting R&D. It looks beyond the mere development of market products and aims to have a direct and real impact across Catalan society to position it as an international benchmark by implementing the ‘living services’ concept.
The projects by this community will also be aimed at building industrial fabric and creating specialised jobs within the energy, chemistry, technology and telecommunications industries, bringing the associated economic value that this entails.
Consortium of service companies, research centres and technology SMEs
In order to achieve this global action objective, a consortium was set up between a wide and diverse group of organisations that include large service sector companies, such as NEDGIA (Gas Natural Fenosa group), Grupo Suez, Ferrovial Servicios, Cellnex Telecom and Altran; leading universities and technology research centres, both public and private, such as the Eurecat Technology Centre, Cetaqua (Water Technology Centre co-funded by Aigües de Barcelona, UPC and CSIC), the National Microelectronics Centre of the National Scientific Research Council, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, the Centre de Visió per Computador at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, the Barcelona Supercomputing Centre, Universitat de Lleida and Fundació Privada i2CAT; and a large number of high added-value SMEs specialising in advanced technology services (robotics, data analytics, sensorisation, etc.).
Thanks to this initiative, the companies and entities involved will enjoy increased potential for growth and penetration of their image in society, thereby stimulating the sector and fostering creation and competition in the latest industrial technologies, as is the case for World Sensing, Bemobile, The Things IO, Kernel Analytics, IDP Ingeniería y Arquitectura, Inloc Robotics, Dexma Sensors and Smilics Technologies. All this will be accompanied by the support and experience of F. Iniciativas, a consultancy firm that specialises in R&D+i funding.
Birth of the ‘prosumer’ concept
The main challenge for the 4.0 paradigm, or living service, is to consider the end user of gas, water, electricity and waste services as a ‘prosumer’; in other words, someone who is both a consumer and producer of services. Other markets based solely on new technologies have already achieved this. This goal can only be achieved by harnessing current technological possibilities and applying them to all stages of production. Furthermore, this paradigm views the customer as a digital and non-digital citizen, and considers their behaviour patterns to offer adaptable and evolutionary services.
Last but by no means least, other key aspects of Utilities 4.0 include the protection of critical service infrastructure (both physically and online), improved service efficiency and use of their assets.
Realities in the form of R&D+i projects
The final and specific result from the work to be undertaken by this community will be a series of R&D+i projects leading to practical and effectively implementable results. These projects include the improvement of infrastructure and distribution networks for services and communications, increased interaction with customers by constantly adapting services, and security and cyber-security for critical infrastructure.
All these projects will be developed around various challenges, both relating to industrial operations at plants and networks by incorporating the latest 4.0 technologies such as virtual reality, simulation or smart sensorisation and to the integration of users by analysing demand and defining new services.
The following projects will be undertaken by the community:
- ACTIV4.0: operation and advanced management of assets, led by Ferrovial Servicios
- SENIX: network sensorisation and inspection, led by NEDGIA (Gas Natural Fenosa group)
- MODEM: predictive models and demand management, led by NEDGIA (Gas Natural Fenosa group)
- PERSOSER: service customisation for improved customer experience, led by Cetaqua (Water Technology Centre co-funded by Aigües de Barcelona, UPC and CSIC)
- SECUTIL: security and cyber-security solutions in utilities for the protection of critical infrastructure, led by Eurecat
- COU40LS: community coordination, led by Altran
The result from the projects developed by this ecosystem will surpass the state-of-the-art in the service and resource sector, and from the perspective of Catalan industry, it will boost the internationalisation of this region and position Catalonia as a benchmark in the use of new technologies for building relations between the public and basic service provision.
The RIS3CAT Utilities 4.0 Community is one of the six new RIS3CAT Communities accredited by the Regional Government of Catalonia through ACCIÓ (the region’s business competitiveness agency), a strategy allocating a budget of 24 million euros from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) for Catalonia to this second round of funding.