EIT Manufacturing is a knowledge and innovation community, supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), a body of the European Union. It is the largest innovation network for the manufacturing industry in Europe and invests in its strategic and sustainable development. By connecting manufacturing companies, research organisations and universities in innovation ecosystems, EIT Manufacturing fosters the development of innovative technologies and the creation of globally competitive and sustainable manufacturing. EIT Manufacturing’s vision is that global manufacturing innovation will continue to be led by Europe. A strong manufacturing sector is key for prosperity and wealth in every country, and consequently in Europe as a whole. Therefore, strengthening this sector is vital for every economy to evolve further and to bring forth innovations.  

Interview with Johannes Hunschofsky, Managing Director at EIT Manufacturing East.

Easy Engineering: What are the main areas of activity of EIT Manufacturing and how do you support the manufacturing industry in Europe? 

Johannes Hunschofsky: EIT Manufacturing works together with leading actors in the manufacturing domain across research, business and academia and integrates the knowledge triangle consisting of the areas “Innovation”, “Education”, and “Business Creation” in all its activities to comprehensively drive innovation in the industry. Working with EIT Manufacturing gives manufacturing stakeholders the opportunity to actively shape the future of manufacturing in Europe, and to define with us the strategic focus areas and priorities of our industry in the upcoming years. 

For companies of all sizes, EIT Manufacturing offers a broad spectrum of services depending on the state of the enterprise. Our value proposition for young companies, for example start-ups or scale-ups, is to support their growth out of the local ecosystem on a European level and beyond. This support can either be financially, by providing business development consulting or by helping them to generate deals with customers. 

For small, medium-sized and larger companies, we additionally offer a variety of initiatives to support them in their development, business transformation and innovation endeavours. Among other things, we provide open innovation services, like technology scouting, and specialised programmes for transformation services, for example company assessments or training roadmaps. Our services range from professional training programmes for up- and re-skilling workers, over access to talents from our international Master and Doctoral programmes, to participation in innovation projects to accelerate the process of bringing innovative solutions to the market.

Further, we provide manufacturing companies with access to our pan-European business ecosystem, and help them to find strategic partners, customers or investors with the support of our large community. 

E.E: What are the most challenging topics for European manufacturers currently? 

J.H: The main future topic for the manufacturing industry will be the transition towards circular economy – and we see this as an opportunity rather than a challenge. There will be a market for remanufacturing and green manufacturing technologies, and we want to help European manufacturers to become the leaders in these markets.

For EIT Manufacturing, it is of utmost importance to act according to the needs of the market and our stakeholders. We centre our activities around four major thematic areas: Flexible Production Systems, Low Environmental Footprint Systems & Circular Economy, Digital & Collaborative Solutions, and Human-Machine Co-Working. These flagship areas are defined and redefined in collaboration with our manufacturing ecosystem in order to support the industry in solving their most pressing challenges.

E.E: How can manufacturing stakeholders get involved with EIT Manufacturing? 

J.H: There are many ways to work with EIT Manufacturing and to join our network. In April, we will open again our annual call for proposals to promote innovation projects of trans-regional consortia. We invite everybody who is interested to contribute ideas for innovative projects or to join already existing consortia. The best projects get the opportunity to receive funding in order to bring their ideas to the market. 

More than this, EIT Manufacturing has its own social network, called AGORA, where the European representatives of the manufacturing industry are united to foster community and professional exchange. AGORA has already more than 2,000 members and is continuously growing. 

In the field of Education, we offer a wide range of services, both in the area of academic education and practical training. Students can obtain their higher education with EIT Manufacturing Master and PhD programmes, or attend specialised trainings in our Summer and Winter Schools. Our learning platform Skills.move offers various online trainings and courses. In addition to that, we also cooperate with several expert institutions in different countries to provide hands-on training programmes on special topics like Cobots, Blockchain in Industry 4.0 or Machine Learning. Those courses are available on our Marketplace. 

I mentioned earlier all the different opportunities for companies, small or large ones. Throughout the year, we have various calls to invite start-ups and scale-ups to apply for participation in our pitching competitions like BoostUp! or start-up programmes like Discover Vienna: Manufacturing Edition, where we bring promising start-ups to Vienna for an intensive programme filled with coaching sessions or meetings with relevant corporates and investors. We are also working on extending this programme to other cities and countries. 

I would also like to mention our Regional Innovation Scheme (RIS) that provides special programmes and support for manufacturing stakeholders coming from one of the eligible countries. The RIS initiatives aim at especially boosting innovation activities in those countries with moderate and modest innovation capacity. 

There are many more opportunities to receive support from EIT Manufacturing. I cannot list them all here, but I would like to invite everyone to get in touch with our team across Europe to discuss how we can support you. Our headquarter is located in Paris, France, but we have also six innovation hubs across Europe to be able to act in close cooperation with our partners. They are located in Athens (Greece), Darmstadt (Germany), Gothenburg (Sweden), Milan (Italy), San Sebastian (Spain) and Vienna (Austria). 

Of course, we also participate in or organise many events on local, regional or European level, where we provide information about our activities. This is a good opportunity to get in contact with us and evaluate how we can best work together. 

About Johannes Hunschofsky, Managing Director, EIT Manufacturing East in Vienna, Austria

With over 40 years of experience as top executive in multinational manufacturing companies in North America, Europe, and Asia, Johannes Hunschofsky is a visionary transformation leader and experienced board member successfully implementing strategies involving business turnarounds, improvements and growth, start-ups, acquisition integrations and reorganizations. He is an international speaker on topics including leadership, manufacturing or business strategy. Since 2020, he is the Managing Director of the Austrian branch of EIT Manufacturing, located in the Technology Center Seestadt in Vienna, serving seven countries in Central and Eastern Europe. Together with his team, Johannes makes a significant contribution to strengthening and further developing global competitiveness and sustainable production for Europe as an industrial location.