“The Masterplan Innovation gives us guidance and inspiration”

Herman DeracheTo remain successful, in spite of or thanks to rapid technological, economic and social changes, companies need to continually reinvent themselves. As the collective centre for the technology industry, Sirris has been helping companies big and small for over six decades to make the right technological choices for sustainable growth.

Technology has come on leaps and bounds in that time, but our ambitions have remained the same: to address the challenges posed by innovation with our multidisciplinary expertise, state-of-the-art infrastructure and extensive network of partners.

Shaping innovation together

In 2015, besides 216 collective research projects, we implemented a total of 1,972 individual industrial projects for 1,500 different companies. And those companies clearly appreciate our approach. With scores of 92.6% for cooperation and 94.1% for laboratory facilities, satisfaction with our services is at an all-time high.

Steady revenue and solid reserves

The individual service we offer to businesses has also allowed us to maintain steady revenue at a time when government grants for collective research projects are being squeezed. We’ve even managed to build up reserves for future investments in technology and expertise. Just as well, since our relevance to the industry depends entirely on our having state-of-the-art know-how and infrastructure.

Over the past five years, we’ve spent a total of €11 million on keeping our facilities up-to-date. In 2015, this included a raft of new technologies at our site in the Liège Science Park – which, incidentally, celebrated its 20th birthday last year. The Zwijnaarde site also received an infrastructure upgrade with two additional furnaces.

Maintaining the investment momentum

Behind the scenes, we were also preparing a number of innovations for 2016, including our brand-new facility at the UGent campus in Kortrijk, which will focus on research into flexible automation of assembly.

In all, we plan to invest €3 million in our facilities in 2016. The new spray cabin with demonstration robot for testing functional coatings and laser equipment for precision manufacturing have been available for use by customers at our Diepenbeek labs since spring of this year.

Green light for data innovation and additive manufacturing

Last year also saw us take a number of strategic decisions. We embarked, for example, on a fully-fledged data-innovation programme, following a period of exploration.

We also gave the go-ahead to an ambitious five-year plan for additive manufacturing (AM). With AM now on the verge of an industrial breakthrough, Sirris wants to further enhance the reliability and accuracy of this technology through research and to offer manufacturing firms the best possible support to implement AM in their production processes.

Masterplan Innovation as framework

The Masterplan Innovation gives us guidance and inspiration in all these choices. Co-developed with our technology federation Agoria based on trend studies and a broad-based survey of the sector, the plan takes into account the major technological, economic and social trends of our time and offers companies a firm footing for developing a vision and defining priorities and action plans.

The Masterplan Innovation has met with an enthusiastic reception from industry, who see it as ‘their’ canvas for developing into ‘businesses of the future’, making ‘products of the future’ in ‘factories of the future’. At Sirris, we also use the Masterplan as a framework for further developing our services.

Cross-disciplinary collaboration

From 2016, our development will focus on three up-and-coming areas: digital servitisation, smart products and digitising manufacturing. These are all cross-cutting topics demanding expertise in a range of technologies as well as other non-technological fields: legal, social, security and IT, among others.

To surround ourselves with the best experts in all these domains, we continue to leverage partnerships with Agoria, universities and many other players in the world of innovation. For one thing is certain: to achieve real innovations, we need to combine our strengths.

Annual report 2015

Download the pdf-version of the Annual report 2015