The 21-member EU project led by SZTAKI has the objective of making European production systems and supply chains more flexible, as well as facilitating the transfer of medical equipment if required due to another global pandemic or further waves of COVID-19.
SZTAKI, an ELKH member institution, won the CO-VERSATILE tender for the European Union Horizon 2020 framework program for the extraordinary challenge of combating and eradicating COVID. In May, the EU advertised the opportunities to submit tenders in five sub-categories, with a total of 23 projects receiving support from 454 bids submitted. Because of the urgency of the matter, everything was completed in a single month, from the initial instructions to the preparation and putting together of a consortium, while the results were also not announced according to the original schedule.
The CO-VERSATILE project aims to increase the adaptability and flexibility of the European manufacturing industry, with a particular focus on vital medical devices and protective equipment. The results have the potential to help Europe prepare for a global pandemic and respond to unexpected requirements.
The director of the project, Dr. Róbert Lovas, is SZTAKI’s deputy director. Under the coordination of SZTAKI, as part of the CO-VERSATILE research and development project and with the help of their partners, they have created a digital environment and processes that, in as little as 48 hours, can flexibly adjust and reallocate production capacities – which otherwise manufacture other products – if there is a need for an extremely large quantity of medical equipment or personal protective equipment. Another goal is to create a ‘Digital Technopole’ that not only serves urgent demands but where the developments and solutions applied there can also be transferred to other manufacturers all over Europe.
The EU has awarded EUR 5.4 million to the 24-month international project. The project is coordinated by SZTAKI – of the member states that joined the European Union after 2004 (EU13), Hungary was the only country to be awarded such a role in the fight against COVID-19. The 21-member consortium includes the German Fraunhofer IGD (Institute for Computer Graphics Research) and IML (Institute for Material Flow and Logistics) research centers, EIT Manufacturing, Leibniz Universität and the University of Westminster, as well as several European manufacturers and centers for digital innovation.
In addition to coordination, SZTAKI has also contributed to the development of the Digital Technopole with cloud-based solutions and the elaboration and adaptation of simulation models. This means that in the fight against COVID, the institute not only provides R&D background, IT expertise and resources for the Hungarian scientific community and virus research teams, but also for the European industrial sector.
Innomine is an important domestic member of the consortium. As a digital innovation hub, Innomine brings together various actors in the field, including suppliers, universities and research institutes, small and medium-sized enterprises and investors, to promote the further development and strengthening of the digital ecosystem. One of Innomine’s main tasks will be to promote and disseminate the resulting solutions on the market, including through the organisation of a Europe-wide networking event (matchaton).
Bálint Laza, laza.balint[at]sztaki.hu