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16 March 2016

Development in robotics brings competitive advantage and economic growth


Slovenia to host the most important event in robotics this year

Robotics has a tremendous impact on our economy and society. Robots are known to save costs, to improve the quality of products and working conditions, and to minimise resources and waste. From today’s €22bn worldwide revenues, robotics industries are set to achieve annual sales of between €50bn and €62bn by 2020. In the field of industrial robotics, which is currently growing at 8% p.a., Europe’s share of the world market is about 32%. The trends in European robotics development and the latest discoveries will be at the focus of this year’s discussions attended by over 500 experts at the European Robotics Forum (ERF2016) in Slovenia, which was selected as host due to its committed involvement in the international research area. The event will take place between 21 and 23 March at Cankarjev dom.

If Europe’s share of the world industrial robotics market is about 30%, its position in the world service robotics market represents a share of nearly two thirds (63%). This is the result of its excellence in interdisciplinary research in “intelligent robots” and a culture of cooperation between industry and academia. However, the much larger impact comes from the effect robotics has upon the competitiveness of the manufacturing and service industries that use robotics systems and technologies, and upon the quality of life for citizens. A recent study by McKinsey estimates that the value of the application of advanced robotics in healthcare, manufacturing and services could have an annual economic impact of between $1.7 trillion and $4.5 trillion worldwide by 2025.

The entire robotic community to gather at Cankarjev dom

This year, between 21 and 23 March, Slovenia will host the European Robotics Forum 2016, the most important meeting of the European robotics community, with over 500 participants each year from industry, business, academia, research and relevant European policy makers. The event will be organised by euRobotics AISBL, a Brussels-based international non-profit association for all stakeholders in European robotic sector. One of the association’s main missions is to collaborate with the European Commission (EC) to develop and implement a strategy and a roadmap for research, technological development and innovation in robotics, in view of the launch of the next framework program Horizon 2020. euRobotics AISBL was formed to engage from the private side in a contractual Public-Private Partnership, SPARC, with the European Union as the public side. With €700M in funding from the Commission for 2014–2020, and triple that amount from European industry, SPARC is the largest civilian-funded robotics innovation programme in the world.

Reinhard Lafrenz, Secretary General of euRobotics, stresses: “The European Robotics Forum 2016 (ERF2016), to be held in Slovenia, will be the most important European networking event this year. Top European experts will present high-level strategies and their implementation as to maximize the benefits of robotics for economy and society, and to make sure that Europe stays number one in the next industrial revolution. A key approach is to link national and regional initiatives under a European ‘umbrella’, such as the “Digitising European Industry” proposed by the European Commission. Representatives of international organisations will showcase EU- funded projects in the context of the Public-Private Partnership in Robotics called SPARC, in which the European Commission has engaged with euRobotics, the organiser of ERF. The approach fits well within the ‘smart specialisation’ of regions strategy which is the key element by both the Committee of Regions and the European Structural and Investment Funds,” and adds: “Robotics markets are evolving quickly and robotics will be a key source of competitive advantage and a means for tackling societal challenges and to excel in science. To maintain and build its position, Europe needs to take concerted action. European-wide action is required to take advantage of regional and national strengths in the core multi-disciplinary competencies of robotics and build critical mass, particularly with regard to efficient supply chains that will be vital for the delivery of cost-effective products and services.”

“Slovenia has been selected to host ERF2016, since it is a well-industrialised country, able to play a major role in setting up a network of “innovation hubs” which take advantage of local and regional expertise in industry and research. The European Robotics Forum 2016, to be held in Ljubljana, will be the most influential meeting of the European robotics community this year and will most likely also contribute to a growing integration of Europe in this part of the continent. Because it will take place in Slovenia, this year’s ERF aims also to reach out to Southeast Europe, especially the Western Balkans, in order to establish a collaborative network in robotics, innovation and application,” concludes Uwe Haass, Consultant to euRobotics and leader of the Robotics in the Western Balkans Workshop to take place at ERF2016.

The official opening of the event will begin on Monday, 21 March, at 10.45 a.m. in Cankarjev dom’s Linhartova dvorana. The event will be opened by the honorary guests:

 Dr. Maja Makovec Brenčič, Minister of Education, Science and Sports of the Republic of Slovenia

The press conference will take place after the official opening of the European Robotics Forum 2016, at 12.30 p.m. in Cankarjev dom’s M4.

Presentations will be given by the following speakers: Bernd Liepert, President of euRobotics AISBL and Head of Innovations in the company KUKA; Dr. Zoran Stančič, Head of the European Commission Representation in Slovenia; Markku Markkula, President of the European Committee of Regions; Khalil Rouhana, European Commission, Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology (DG Connect); Mady Delvaux, European Parliament member from Luxemburg; Matteo Fusari, European Investment Bank; Jasper Wesseling, Ministry of Economy of the Netherlands and dr. Aleš Ude, Jožef Stefan Institute.

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