Optimising Collaboration Between RI and TI, and Industry

In the field of research and innovation, collaboration between Research Infrastructures (RIs) and Technology Infrastructures (TIs) and industrial stakeholders is crucial. The RITIFI project, funded by the European Framework for Research and Innovation Horizon Europe, aims to bridge gaps and foster partnerships between RI, TI and industry that drive technological advancements. Here is one of our cases studies focusing on clean hydrogen.

 

The Case Study

This case study looks into the TEESMAT project, funded by Horizon2020, to highlight the best practices and challenges followed by the recommendations from the study. TEESMAT built up an open innovation test bed (OITB) for electrochemical energy storage materials.

 

Best Practices and Barriers

The TEESMAT project provided comprehensive grant funding to establish a network and documentation framework, facilitating smoother collaboration and accelerating industry uptake by simplifying the process of finding the right expertise at RIs through TIs known by industry. Meanwhile, Hydrogen Europe is mapping expertise within the ecosystem and making it publicly available, ensuring that industries can easily find the required expertise. This transparency fosters better collaboration and knowledge sharing.

The TEESMAT project faced several barriers: funding limitations, as its RIA funding supports activities only up to TRL 6 while industries need solutions at TRL 8. In addition, knowledge gaps exist, with industry often unaware of the expertise available and which can help to solve their problems. Access to materials characterisation beam time at RIs is challenging when the study requires less than 1 day. Sometimes 30-minutes beamtime is all a user needs. Hence, combining shorter slots into substantial blocks could help. Complex business cases relying on mixed public and private funding create difficulties, especially for TIs. Intellectual property (IP) control by companies can hinder sector-wide benefits and collaborative progress, as companies may prioritise individual gains and restrict the sharing of project-related information.

 

Recommendations

Further to the case study, RITIFI partners identified two approaches to ensure a strong partnership between RIs and TIs and industrial stakeholders.

Blended finance models for OITBs and similar entities can be one optimal approach. This implies gradually reducing public funding as projects mature can address business case complexities and ensure a more balanced flow of information, reducing company control.

Pushing TIs as having sectoral integrator rolesis another approach where TIs can add value, assisting individual companies in identifying the expertise needed to solve their problems and coordinating access to the most appropriate resources. Additionally, TIs should manage requests across multiple companies to consolidate them into larger, more manageable blocks, enhancing efficiency and resource utilisation.

 

By implementing these best practices and recommendations, the collaborative efforts between RIs, TIs, and industry can be significantly improved, fostering innovation and technological advancement across sectors.

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