At the beginning of August the french government announced the selection of thirteen Joint Innovation Platform (PFMI) projects. Designed to offer companies shared resources in terms of equipment, personnel or associated services, these PFMI should enable the companies in question, which will be mainly SMEs, to pursue innovative R&D projects in close conjunction with the competitiveness clusters. Over half the selected projects relate to green growth.
This joint approach is designed to help SMEs gain access to high technology equipment that they would not have the means to acquire or use themselves. It might also allow them to carry out tests and to produce prototypes; providing, in essence, ‘living labs’ for testing out services, tools or new uses in a real environment and so helping with their development and uptake.
The Joint Innovation Platforms initiative forms part of the package of actions designed to support the competitiveness clusters within the Investments for the Future programme. Fifty million Euros of public funding are being pumped into it in the form of capital investment in the companies operating the platforms and in grants to the same companies. It will be managed by the Caisse des Dépôts.
Seven of the thirteen selected projects cover themes linked to green growth:
- Eco-Ex involves the creation of a platform for the exploitation of by-products from tropical agriculture, the food industry and fisheries; coordinated by the Qualitropic competitiveness cluster on Réunion;
- Ecotox Rovaltain involves the creation of a platform dedicated to the evaluation and forecasting of threats to health and the environment by potentially toxic agents; coordinated by the Pôle Ecotox forecasting association in the Rhone-Alps region;
- Greenerbat envisages the creation of a training and testing platform for the energy performance of buildings; coordinated by the S2E2 competitiveness cluster in the Centre region;
- The Hydroref platform will offer services for the development of new processes, materials and equipment used in water networks; coordinated by the Hydreos competitiveness cluster in the Lorraine and Alsace regions;
- Improve will see the creation of a platform for the exploitation of plant proteins; coordinated by the Tereos enterprise in the region of Picardy;
- Moissannes Gazéification involves the development of a testing platform for technologies associated with the gasification of biomass; coordinated by Eneria, a Limousin enteroprise;
- The S2P platform will focus on the smart plastic products sector; coordinated by the Pôle Européen de Plasturgie [European plastics cluster] association in the Rhone Alps region.