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European 'Manufacturing NextMaterials' project supports SMEs in scaling up and sustainability in manufacturing industry



German-Dutch collaboration bridges prototype and production for SMEs 

On the 1st of January the Manufacturing NextMaterials (MNM) project is launched, an ambitious European initiative aimed at scaling up prototypes to test production of parts and components with smart and sustainable properties. Think of lightweight car parts and battery materials for example. The aim is to give about 120 SMEs the necessary competences to bridge the gap between prototype and market. Initiator and lead partner Oost NL is working with several German and Dutch partners on this project over a four-year period.


Bridge between prototyping and test production for Material Technology 
The MNM project stems from the need to support material technology SMEs. Often, these companies face difficulties in scaling up to production and entering the market, as government support typically stops at the prototyping stage. MNM focuses on addressing these barriers and provides solutions to issues related to production techniques, quality assurance and compliance with legal requirements. The project thus bridges the gap between prototyping and test production. This enables the manufacturing industry to respond quickly and efficiently to the growing demand for smart and sustainable products. Think sustainable materials for lightweight vehicles or safe and recyclable batteries that are better for the environment and people. And that replace unhealthy substances such as PFAS. 
Judith Inberg, project coordinator MNM and working at Oost NL: "We see Gelderland and Overijssel companies in materials technology struggling with issues that arise after they have finished developing prototypes: how do you make a sharp production layout and which production techniques are best for me?" 
Working together on the future of manufacturing
Oost NL, NMWP.NRW and BOM are the core partners of the project. Together with five knowledge institutes and CATO Composites, Application Centre of Saxion University of Applied Sciences, Fraunhofer Innovation Platform of University of Twente, University of Münster, Fraunhofer Institute for Battery Cell production and Rapid Technology Centre of University of Duisburg-Essen, they are working on three so-called Lighthouse pilot projects. 
In these 'Lighthouse' pilot projects, German and Dutch innovation centres are working together to provide solutions to three key challenges in materials technology. Challenges in this area lie in setting up proper test production of composite materials, the use of 3D printing to grow beyond the prototype phase, and the production technology of smart materials, such as those for batteries. Thus, they are making strides in scaling up parts and components from the prototype phase to market-ready products.

Commissioner Erwin Hoogland of Overijssel province is enthusiastic about the German-Dutch cooperation: "Manufacturing NextMaterials is a wonderful cross-border project. How wonderful it is that companies and researchers in the Netherlands and Germany are developing pioneering materials together so soon. In doing so, they are also contributing to a sustainable future of our manufacturing industry."

The projects provide support to SMEs in both technical and business areas, with a focus on test productions. The knowledge partners focus on technical obstacles, while the core partners concentrate on business aspects. Together, they are creating cross-border facilities for test productions of composites, advanced battery production and support for 3D printing. MNM contributes by providing a roadmap for continued cooperation between innovation centres.  Workshops and training sessions are also organised to prepare SMEs for test productions. Oost NL has reserved budget for SMEs to set up and carry out test productions, involving potential customers and investors as observers.

Interest and application 
The MNM project will open for participation of interested SMEs in the manufacturing industry in the German-Dutch border region in the second quarter of 2024. If you have any questions now, please contact Judith Inberg (judith.inberg@oostnl.nl) or Hilde van der Pluym (hilde.vanderpluym@oostnl.nl).

The MNM project
The MNM project is carried out under the Interreg VI programme Deutschland-Nederland and co-financed by the European Union, the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate (EZK), MWIKE NRW and MB Niedersachsen, as well as the provinces of Groningen, Fryslân, Drenthe, Flevoland, Overijssel, Gelderland and Noord-Brabant.