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“A shared collaboration is the solution to face this crisis with innovative and dynamic responses”

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Presentation by the president in our Annual Report 2019.2020

Looking back in time we can see that the three founding principles that define us, Value Creation, Technology and Knowledge are still in force.

The cluster model selected for MI4 was supposed to go beyond the horizontal networks in which companies from the same market sectors cooperate (R&D, marketing, or joint purchases) and compete.

Our aim was to create the basic conditions so that the companies belonging to the cluster could learn about externalities or “spillovers” of knowledge created with the cluster to reinforce their proficiency and enhance their competitive capacity.

In this activity report you will be able to verify the effectiveness of this initiative and you can check the figures that support it, but I think it is relevant to underline the European position of our “project”. MI4 is currently working on two European projects along with 16 international partners and a joint budget of 5 million Euros. It is important to highlight that 75% of the budget is intended to finance SME innovation projects. In 2020 our aim is to add three new European projects and to collaborate with 25 international partners. For this purpose we count with a budget of around 10 million euros. These data relatively show a broad qualitative leap for the cluster in its progress towards its consolidation.

I am writing these lines when the alarm state created by an incredible global pandemic has just ended. Socio-economic data anticipate that the Spanish economy will be seriously affected. It is a crisis caused outside the economic system and it is very different from the crises that have occurred in recent years, so applying successful recipes from the past does not seem to be the best alternative today.

This emergency has come during the process of applying new technologies to manufacturing  (4.0 Industry) and accelerating the decarbonization processes of economy, and we are aware that the pandemic has sunk demand abruptly. Additionally, we are experiencing a technological decoupling between the USA and China.  This comes along with a great economic interdependence between countries during the crisis period and it may end up promoting a greater nationalization or at least a regionalization of production.  This situation can affect our internationalization and integration strategy in global value chains.

However if the COVID-19 pandemic is holding back physical globalization, it is also motivating a digital globalization.Working remotely has got more followers and network services have been more used in this crisis. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has meant a turn towards the State in terms of searching for a strong and collective leadership with an inductive governance model where institutions, companies and citizens are present.

In early April the European Commission through DG Grow launched a cooperation forum between companies, associations and clusters at European level. We set support lines through the clusters to reorient the production processes and respond to the needs caused by the pandemic. An organizational model based on needs-solutions-actionswas the key element proposed by the European Cluster Alliance and it required a political commitment to business management in relation to the clusters. Europe considers that promoting clusters is part of the solution. In this sense Asturias needs to support this organizational model or we will not be able to create the essential “momentum” for recovery.

The metal sector is considered to be the engine of socio-economic progress in Asturias. It is a mature sector with little capacity for reinvention and in permanent reconversion. That is why heralds of the future with mental patterns from the past proliferate in mass media. They propose to grow in more attractive sectors and leave the current sector due to its expected irrelevance. It seems like a “deja vu” of the situation experienced in the 1980s. We consider that it is time to have confidence in an intelligent, competitive and innovative industry that is knowledge-oriented and committed to creating thousands of qualified jobs.

Europe believes that the guidelines included in the European Green Pact along with its investment plans in the manufacturing industry, and the development of new environmentally friendly products can produce complete recovery in the short time. That would boost the economy and job creation, as well as it would achieve the goals related to climate change and it would promote a circular economy.

Asturias has a great potential to be a benchmark in circular economy and in advanced manufacturing together with a smart specialization strategy promoted by Europe. MI4 has recently presented its proposals for the implementation of additive manufacturing along with the initial projects developed collaboratively by companies in the cluster. They are in favor of developing Ecoparks, technology parks and excellence campuses oriented to market opportunities for Asturias. Now it is time to move forward and we should focus on research and innovation in circular economy, from top-down and bottom-up approaches supported by European interregional networks belonging to the MI4 European peers club.

This roadmap should identify strategic priorities in production, distribution, after-sales services, collection systems, repair for subsequent reuse, and recovery and recycling models for biochemical raw materials. Cross-cutting priorities related to legislation and regulation and learning systems throughout professional life that require a new social contract should be considered as well.

As a conclusion, I would like to highlight that some of these reflections should be integrated in the up-to-date MI4 Strategic Plan that the board of directors has proposed for 2020.  Due to the current circumstances I think that this is more necessary than ever.

MetaIndustry4 has welcomed all the participating companies, partners´ projects, seminars and initiatives raised during these years. The achievements are commendable. The MI4 executive committee, coordinators and technical team have done an excellent job. We have shown that aspiring goals can be achieved. I would like to express my deepest admiration and gratitude to all of you.

It has been an honor for me to make this dream come true.