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The automotive industry plays an important role in the economy of the Greater Region. In order to strengthen the competitiveness and attractiveness of companies in the sector, 10 partners joined forces in the Pôle Automobile Européen project to set up coordinated cross-border actions. The project, which received €1,237,854.74 (of a total budget of €2,159,358.74) of co-funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) via the Interreg VA Greater Region programme, mainly focused on supporting SMEs through to targeted actions.

“The interactions and exchanges between the automotive clusters of the Greater Region have already been ongoing for the past ten years, and our interactions gave birth to the PAE project,” explains Mr Auert. “We were able to undertake a range of very concrete actions thanks to the funding provided by the ERDF.”

The interactions and exchanges between the automotive clusters of the Greater Region have already been ongoing for the past ten years.

The activities carried out have made it possible to strengthen the presence of Greater Region SMEs in foreign markets, improve the competitiveness of companies at the cross-border and international level, and consolidate the cooperation between the automotive clusters of the Greater Region, which guarantee the continuation of this project.

Tomorrow in Motion

The project team of the Pôle Automobile Européen“The motivation of and the cordial understanding between the partners have made it possible to carry out many actions with a significant impact for our companies,” says Mr Auert, citing the most significant ones.

The high point of the Pôle Automobile Européen, the Tomorrow in Motion Forum, was a key event for professionals in the Greater Region’s automotive sector. After the first digital session which was held on 15 June 2021, the partners invited the automotive & mobility sector on 14-15 June 2022 to Metz Expo.

For two days, industry representatives, economic development players and decision makers shared their expertise and their point of view, focusing mainly on the essential themes of energy and digital transition.

Identify training needs

The Walloon partner Technifutur carried out an analysis of the gaps between the skills needs of industry (in particular the automotive sector) and the training courses already offered by schools, universities and professional training organisations in the following 4 areas:

  • Lightweight materials and recycling
  • Energy transition and new motorisation
  • Connected and autonomous driving
  • Industry of the future (industry 4.0)

“The objective of this survey was to gather the real skills of the local market and to identify the training needs in our cross-border region where the automotive industry and mobility play an important role,” explains Mr Auert. “The results of this survey will soon be published on the PAE website.”

Their added value is the feedback obtained both from automotive companies and from training organisations in the various cross-border regions. This approach made it possible to detect good practices as well as gaps to be filled in the various regions surveyed and to make concrete suggestions to training providers based on feedback from the players concerned.

Internationalisation strategy

As part of its participation in the Pôle Automobile Européen, the University of Liège has produced a White Paper on the development of a future internationalisation strategy. This was achieved through the creation of a High Patronage Committee made up of members of companies in the Greater Region. Interviews were conducted with regional companies and institutions on topics such as electrification, autonomous vehicles, digital mobility and data sharing, urbanisation, the consequences of the COVID-19 crisis, and sustainable aspects of mobility and innovation.

Resulting from these interviews, the White Paper intended for all companies in the automotive sector in the Greater Region will soon be posted on the PAE website.

Pôle Automobile Européen: Networking and knowledge enrichment

Luxinnovation was in charge of technological watch relating to new propulsion modes (e.g. electric, hydrogen and hybrid), new materials, new forms of mobility (e.g. autonomous driving) and new production methods (e.g. industry of the future). Numerous reports (17) which can be consulted online have been drawn up with the aim of guaranteeing the long-term competitiveness of SMEs on the international scene.

Networking is essential in the development of a business.

“Networking is essential in the development of a business,” confirms Mr Auert. “It makes it possible for companies to become known and for entrepreneurs to create professional relationships, which may eventually develop into commercial relationships. To support networking, the PAE project has organised several events such as the Automotive Day at Michelin and the visit to the Audi factory in Ingolstadt.”

Highly appreciated by business managers, the Technology Site Visits (TSV) attracted many visitors during visits organised in person or virtually due to COVID. Participants had the opportunity to learn about what companies are doing in neighbouring regions and to discover opportunities for technological collaborations.

“The result of these activities has directly benefited not only the development of the automotive and mobility ecosystem but also the influence of our region internationally. The end of an Interreg project does not mean the end of working together but a continuation built on a base enriched with new knowledge and cemented by strong human relations,” concludes Mr Auert.

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