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Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

Advanced Manufacturing

Advanced Manufacturing (AM) is the powerhouse of EU's industrial evolution, blending cutting-edge technologies with innovative methodologies to craft superior products. It is a strategic market segment to ensure Europe’s industrial competitiveness, resilience, and the transition towards a greener and more digitally integrated future

Examples of technologies supporting advanced manufacturing and capable of maximising the potential of EU manufacturing are AI, robotics, additive manufacturing, virtual reality, blockchain and big data. Advanced manufacturing is increasingly recognisied as a critical industry, especially in times of geopolitical tensions. For deeper economic integration and the acceleration of technological development, advanced manufacturing processes are a key enabler.

While the European advanced manufacturing sector has experienced rapid growth in the last decade, it faces challenges in terms of global competitiveness, innovation disparities, and financing shortfalls. Addressing these issues is critical for the EU to maintain its position as a leader in advanced manufacturing and drive innovation in this sector.

To pave the future of advanced manufacturing in the EU, one of the task forces forming the Industrial Forum, stemming from the New Industrial Strategy for Europe, worked with external stakeholders to provide expert advice for the uptake of AM technologies and processes by EU industry.

The task force published its report in 2023 providing recommendations to the European Commission for speeding up the uptake of advanced manufacturing technologies, as well as highlighting the advantages of AM and clean tech for the decarbonisation of the European economy. 

Boosting competitiveness in advanced manufacturing: key levers

In April 2024, the European Commission organised a high-level conference on Advanced Manufacturing Industry to address these challenges and gather further ideas for enhancing the sector’s competitiveness, resilience and global standing. This included  harnessing the benefits of the green and digital transition. 

The main recommendations that emerged from this event are as follows

Focus on our strengths

Europe should concentrate its efforts in areas where it holds a competitive advantage, such as robotics, the Internet of Things (IoT), additive manufacturing, and extended reality (digital/virtual twins), among others.  

Improve access to finance 

Accessing finance, particularly for scale-ups , remains a critical challenge for the advanced manufacturing industry. To address this, the following measures were recommended

  • boost public funding in selected, strategic areas to create lead markets.
  • unlock access to private capital by fostering a better-functioning capital markets union.
  • revise the EU taxonomy rules to recognise the greening potential of additive manufacturing, thereby unlocking private venture capital (VC) finance. 
  • introduce ecolabels and systematically track the ecological footprint of products along the value chain to boost demand-side investments and demonstrate the greening contribution of enabling technologies like additive manufacturing. 

 Facilitate access to data

The European single market for data does not yet exist, with numerous barriers remaining both within and outside the EU. To address this, the following actions are proposed

  • ensure that a manufacturing data space is operational within 2 years
  • provide guidance to encourage widespread adoption of this manufacturing data space
  • establish an EU industrial data helpdesk and designated contact points in each Member State, to assist with data export and import issues. 

Unlock the value of generative AI for robotics 

To enhance competitiveness against global rivals, stronger industry collaboration is needed to unlock the value of generative AI for robotics applications. Fostering partnerships among EU robotics and AI firms, with a focus on industrial applications of generative AI, was recommended.

The initiatives announced in the recent Commission Communication on generative AI were welcomed by the conference experts. 

European Commission initiatives on advanced manufacturing  

The European Commission has launched several actions to leverage the opportunities of advanced manufacturing and some of its prominent components, notably electronic manufacturing, virtual worlds, advanced materials and additive manufacturing.