Past, present and future come together in Seraing

On 18 September, Sirris celebrated 20 years in the Liège Science Park. This landmark occasion was a perfect opportunity to thank our partners and companies, turn our gaze to the future and demonstrate the impact our development has had on them by showcasing some striking examples.  

For more than 65 years, Sirris has been a permanent partner for innovation in SMEs and large companies. For the last 20 years, from our base in the Liège Science Park in Sart-Tilman we have been helping companies from within and beyond the region in the following areas in particular: product development from the drawing board to industrialisation, from the design phase using calculation and simulation tools to the application of innovative technologies, including the use of new materials, additive manufacturing techniques, microtechnology, electronic printing, metal injection moulding (MIM) and other leading-edge know-how. Over the years, Sirris has steadily expanded its impressive range of expertise, enabling it to raise the technology sector's awareness of new production methods.

Jean-Claude Noben (Sirris) and Jean-Claude Marcourt (Walloon Minister for the Economy, Industry, Innovation and Digital Technology)

Year in, year out, we have worked hard to create high-tech infrastructure on an industrial scale, through test and measurement labs and support in IP, all while actively monitoring technological advances. Our enthusiastic team of experts has established a solid reputation (which it intends to consolidate further!) as the preferred partner of SMEs and large companies, intensifying its collaboration with them in a joint bid to make the best possible use of available resources. 

On 18 September we celebrated our 20th anniversary in a broad programme of events attended by 180 representatives of various companies and organisations, who came to our premises in Seraing to mark the occasion with us.

In his welcome address, business leader René Branders, CEO of FIB and the brand-new president of Sirris, presented his vision of industrial reality as it is today, highlighting the importance of collective research centres for helping companies to innovate, gain the skills required to do this, enable them to learn how to weigh up cost and risk factors and acquire general insights into these problematic areas, viewed against the backdrop of intensive modern-day competition.

René Branders (CEO of FIB)

Next, Walloon Minister for the Economy, Industry, Innovation and Digital Technology Jean-Claude Marcourt stressed that "research centres are key players in Wallonia's economic revival because they disseminate knowledge about emerging technologies within the industrial fabric". "Over the past 20 years", he said, "Sirris has shown us that research and innovation are core elements in Wallonia's transformation, elements that have become a part of the entrepreneurs' genes in this region today". 

Director of Sirris Wallonia Umberto Baraldi looked back on Sirris's past 20 years in the Liège Science Park and gave a few hints as to what the future will hold. Over the past two decades, the team in Seraing has grown from 40 to 55 people, who have machinery representing an investment of no less than €12 million at their disposal, primarily thanks to support from the Walloon Region and Europe. During this time, he said, 23,000 industrial innovation projects had been completed by 2,544 different Walloon companies. In 2014, 558 industrial projects were under way in Wallonia and free advice on small issues was provided on 400 occasions, with some questions being passed on to partners.

The programme for future action is focussed on three main areas. The first entails expanding effective cooperation between GEM3 partners by implementing a common action plan within the Pole for Material Engineering in Wallonia (PIMW). The second is the 'Masterplan Innovation', providing industry with a practical reference framework for benchmarking. This Masterplan, devised by Sirris and Agoria, enables companies to position themselves vis-à-vis other companies, state-of-the-art technologies and today's and tomorrow's technological advances so that they can take any decisions required with an eye to future technological innovations. Thirdly and lastly, Industry 4.0 and the challenges associated with it will impact on our organisation's skills and activities, since industry may well end up needing a different kind of service in future. Key technologies for rising to the challenges thrown down by Industry 4.0 are AM and smart products and processes.

In addition to the above, representatives of two industrial companies - Axel Kupisiewicz, CEO of Lasea and Christian Pagnoulle, R&D Manager at Physiol - spoke about their partnership and cooperation with Sirris.

The festivities ended with speeches given by leading Walloon innovators: Pierre Villers from DGO6, Jacques Germay from the 'Pôle Mecatech' and Thierry Castagne, General Director of Agoria Wallonia. Speaking in turn, they set out their plans for boosting Wallonia's industrial fabric, identifying the essential elements for stimulating innovation and what is to be gained from an industrial ecosystem, and outlining the importance to Walloon companies of partners like Sirris.

(Photos © MaxDechamps)