Elmia Subcontractor develops the industry – trade show contacts become an EU project

Sweden together with Germany and other countries will develop a totally new method for product development in the automotive sector. This major international collaboration began thanks to contacts made at Elmia Subcontractor 2013. 

The Swedish automotive industry’s major venture into lightweight components, Sånätt, was presented at Elmia Subcontractor in Jönköping in 2013. In addition to innovative prototypes, the exhibitors could also point to big gains resulting from involving subcontractors right from the start of a development process. The presentation impressed the German delegation that was visiting the fair and included OEM companies from Berlin-Brandenburg. The delegation immediately contacted suppliers from its region who were exhibiting and linked them up with the Swedes.

“We had a fantastic response from the Germans,” explains Stefan Svedhem, who is in charge of operations at the Swedish development centre Innovatum and is the Swedish project manager for the international project now being set up. “They proposed a joint venture right there at the fair.”

The new project’s members are in Sweden, Germany, Slovenia and the Netherlands. A preliminary partial application was made in March to the EU’s big research and innovation programme Horizon 2020, and a final part of the application will be submitted in August. If approved, the project will be fully funded. The goal is to develop at an international level a model for how suppliers can cooperate in large-scale development commissions.

“The results of Sånätt are clearly innovative,” comments Carl-Ernst Fortchert, head of I-vector Innovationsmanagement and the German project manager for the international project. “We now hope that our cooperation will lead to knowledge about various ways to manage and drive projects that make the most of different work and corporate cultures.”

Fredrik Sidahl, managing director of FKG, the trade association representing Scandinavian suppliers to the automotive industry, is very positive about the new joint venture.

“The German automotive industry is a benchmark, a goal for Sweden,” he says, adding that face-to-face meetings are the key.

“It’s in such meetings that ideas are developed and business deals made. A focused industry trade fair with meeting places and interesting seminars is a dream scenario, one that is a reality at Elmia Subcontractor.”

Elmia Subcontractor’s project manager Karla Eklund is very pleased at how the contacts made at the fair have developed.

“It’s great to see proof that the face-to-face meetings held here can lead to such exciting projects.”