COTEMACO - Increased NWE COmpetitiveness Through Efficient MAn & Machine COllaboration

Project Summary

Manufacturing SMEs in NWE are struggling to maintain their cost competitiveness against large-scale production facilities in low-wage economies. This sector specifically suffers workforce scarcity because employees in manufacturing SMEs are often subjected to physically repetitive tasks. The tasks are often under-stimulating, as well as contributing to adverse health effects. The next step to increase competitiveness will only be achieved by offering the high levels of production flexibility, made possible by collaborative robotics.

With the potential to have as much, if not more, impact on the manufacturing sector as 3D printing or IoT, cobots focus on enhancing the cooperation between human workers and industrial robots, unlike previous automation waves. Using cobots in manufacturing processes not only allows for a more efficient use of employees, it reduces health issues and raises motivation.

Via an SME support programme, COTEMACO engages with 60 SMEs from the automotive and food sectors through field labs. These regional field labs in the Netherlands, the UK, Belgium and Germany are showcasing key production steps in the automotive and food industries, in order to tackle current low sectorial awareness and knowledge gaps. The field labs will exchange knowledge on different manufacturing tasks, such as handling and (un)loading.

Cobots are brought closer to end-user SMEs through testing and interacting in the relevant industry conditions by SME management and other stakeholders in regional manufacturing economies. Working with 50 of the SMEs, COTEMACO is also working towards implementing collaborative robotics through international cooperation. This will maintain greater than €500M of regional turnover and over 1250 NWE manufacturing jobs and generate over €50M and more than 125 new jobs. Replication across other sectors and regions will ensure long-term financing sustainability of field labs (private contracts), exploring the potential of additional funding to be paired with regional sources.

Project Partners

  • The University of Lincoln

    1 Brayford Way
    LN6 7TS
    United Kingdom

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  • Voka - Limburg Chamber of Commerce and Industry

    51 Governor Roppesingel

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  • Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership

    36 Orchard Street
    LN1 1YZ
    United Kingdom

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  • HighTechNL

    68 HighTechCampus

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  • Food Tech Brainport

    3 Scheepsboulevard
    5705 KZ

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  • ZeMA - Center for Mechatronics and Automation Technology GmbH

    Geb. 9 Gewerbepark

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  • BEST - Advice Center for socially acceptable Technology-Designing

    6 Fritz-Dobisch-Straße

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  • Flanders Make

    133 Oude Diestersebaan

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Lead partner

Organisation Address Email Website
Flanders Make 133 Oude Diestersebaan
Name Contact Name Email Country
The University of Lincoln Andrea Paoli, Mark Swainson, United Kingdom
Voka - Limburg Chamber of Commerce and Industry Veroniek Hermans Belgium
Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership Simon Murphy United Kingdom
HighTechNL Ben van der Zon Netherlands
Food Tech Brainport John de Groot Netherlands
ZeMA - Center for Mechatronics and Automation Technology GmbH Matthias Vette-Steinkamp Germany
BEST - Advice Center for socially acceptable Technology-Designing Oliver Müller Germany


United Services Union ver.di visits ZeMA

Posted on

On April 26, the Saarland United Services Union ver.di visited ZeMA. The participants of the academy's advanced training module were able to inform themselves about the latest Industry 4.0 technologies and human-robot collaboration. The visitors also had the opportunity to see the latest application examples of Cotemaco and Robotix-Academy during a hands-on demonstration. Read More

Food processing industry offers great opportunities for robotics industry, but has a few specific rules

Posted on

The COTEMACO kick-off meeting for the robotics industry, held at HighTechNL last week, attracted a great deal of interest. The challenges, market size and often harsh working conditions in the food processing industry offer great potential for technology providers of flexible automation and robotics. However, it is not a market that can be accessed without the necessary prior knowledge, according to the presentations of WUR and Food Tech Brainport. Read More


COTEMACO awareness session at Food Tech Brainport

, Food Tech Brainport

We krijgen steeds vaker vragen van leden die hulp zoeken bij het verder automatiseren van het productieproces. Want ze hebben te maken met pittige uitdagingen: met name goed personeel vinden en houden. Dit kun je gedeeltelijk oplossen door robotisering, maar dan komen de vragen los: Hoe pak ik dat aan? - Welk deel kan ik wel robotiseren, welk deel niet? - Hoe garandeer ik de veiligheid van mijn personeel? - Hoe hou ik het voedselveilig? – en vooral hoe moet ik dat betalen?
Read More


, Flanders Make, Lommel

De nieuwe technologieën, die elkaar snel opvolgen, bieden mogelijkheden voor bedrijven om vlot in te spelen op een snel veranderende marktvraag. Bedrijven die hun productie zeer flexibel en wendbaar inrichten kunnen 'gepersonaliseerde' producten tegen acceptabele kosten produceren.  Een voorbeeld van zo'n nieuwe technologie is collaboratieve robotica waarbij de sterkten van de technologie (repeteerbaarheid en nauwkeurigheid) worden gecombineerd met de sterkten van de werknemer (flexibiliteit en creativiteit). Hierbij wordt fysieke of mentale belasting voorkomen.
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Cobots of robots in uw productieproces: automotive industrie

, Voka - Limburg

Tijdens de zitdag “cobots en digitale ondersteuning” kan je een afspraak maken met een accountmanager en/of technisch expert van Flanders Make. Aan de hand van je concrete case en behoefte kan de voor jouw geschikte automatiseringsformule besproken worden. Verder wordt er bekeken of je deel kan uitmaken van het Cotemaco-project en of je voor deze steunmaatregelen in aanmerking komt.
Read More

Opening of the Food Tech Brainport Smart Food Processing field lab

, Food Tech Park, Helmond

You’re invited to the opening of the Smart Food Processing field lab at Food Tech Park in Helmond. This field lab is specifically for food processing companies and aims to familiarise entrepreneurs with the (im)possibilities of collaborative robots and other forms of digital automation. The Smart Food Processing field lab is supported by more than 20 COTEMACO Technology Providers, has 10 demonstrators and offers support for all aspects of implementation, such as feasibility, business planning and aspects such as employee motivation.
Read More

Discover the (im)possibilities with Cobots in food processing

, Food Tech Brainport, Helmond

Have you heard of cobots (robots that work together with people), Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Digital twins? What exactly are these technologies and what do they mean for your company? Maintaining motivated production staff is becoming more difficult every year, and wage costs are also increasing. Perhaps these new technologies can offer a solution to these challenges? These questions and more will be answered at the Food Tech Brainport event on October 14th.
Read More

Zitdag: Hoe flexibel produceren door nieuwe technologieën in de food-, assemblage- en automotive industrie?

, Voka - Kamer van Koophandel Limburg Gouverneur Roppesingel 51 3500 Hasselt

During the "cobots and digital support" day you can make an appointment with an account manager and/or technical expert from Flanders Make. Based on your specific case and needs, the most suitable automation formula can be discussed. It will also be considered whether you can be part of the COTEMACO project and whether you are eligible for these support measures. (In Dutch).
Read More


Get in touch with a partner in your region and discover available opportunities for your SME.




Contact person  

Contact data 


Food Tech Brainport 


de Groot 

Tel.: +31 6 5358 5395 


High Tech NL 


van der Zon 

Tel.: +31 88 555 43 33 



Flanders Make 

Ger van den Kerkhof

Tel.: +32 11 790 545


Voka – Kamer van Koophandel Limburg 

Veroniek Hermans 

Tel.: +32 496 86 46 94 



DE: Saarland, Rheinland-Pfalz 

FR: Grand Est, 



ZeMA – Zentrum für Mechatronik und Automatisierungstechnik gGmbH 


Matthias Vette-Steinkamp 

Tel.: +49 6 81 85 787 531 


BEST - Advice Center for socially acceptable Technology-Designing



Oliver Müller

Tel.:  + 49 (0) 681/ 40 05 255



Greater Lincolnshire (UK) 

University of Lincoln 

Andrea Paoli 

Tel.: +44 1406 493003 


Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership (Business Lincolnshire) 

Simon Murphy 

+44 1522 550 603 


Food processing SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) and automotive manufacturing SMEs dealing with flexible assembly and/or agile manufacturing in one of the COTEMACO regions can apply for the COTEMACO support programme. 

The programme guides SMEs through the process of adopting collaborative robotic (cobot) and shop floor digitalisation technologies, from the exploration of technological opportunities to the detailed definition of a business plan.  

The programme consists of 2 phases, offering participants the following: 

  1. Incubation phase: Initial training and coaching
    - Introduction to technologies: Participants will learn about the technologies in general, about the State of the Art in Europe and what they potentially offer to their business.
    - With the support of a local COTEMACO partner, participants identify a potential business case for the adoption of these technologies in their business.
  1. Adoption phase: From potential adoption case to a solid business plan
    Participants will receive guided support from a potential adoption case to a well-defined business plan.


Background and structure of the support programme 

The implementation of new digital and robot technologies requires assessing the feasibility and carefully planning the adoption process, which proves very hard for SMEs. Combining structured education and tailored business advice, the COTEMACO programme enables SMEs to explore the latest technology solutions for their business and thus to be up-to-date with the latest production possibilities while minimising risks. 

COTEMACO is a European project that connects 8 partners in 4 countries across Europe. In every COTEMACO region, technology and business organisations join forces to help SMEs to accelerate the adoption of novel technologies in the fields of Collaborative Robotics and Shop Floor Digitalisation. The partners will guide and coach SMEs through awareness, incubation and adoption processes which should lead to the implementation of new technologies on the shop floor. 

COTEMACO is cofunded by the ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) within the INTERREG VB North West Europe programme. 


Technologies supported by the COTEMACO programme 

COTEMACO welcomes applications from SMEs that are interested in implementing technologies that relate to either Collaborative Robotics or Shop Floor Digitalisation. Below you will find a definition of these technologies. Please contact your regional COTEMACO partner in case you have any questions.

Collaborative Robotics (Cobots): Human workers and cobots work together rather than performing their tasks separated from each other. This means that the worker… 

  • … and the robot work in the same space, or;
  • … is not endangered by the robot, tool or process, or;
  • … does not need additional training to operate the robot and retains control, or;
  • … accepts the technology (feeling of collaboration rather than replacing each other).

Shop Floor Digitalisation: Digital devices make sure that workers are supported in their work and/or receive the right (personalised) information in the right format on time. Examples for devices supported: 

  • Non-wearable, e.g. tablets, smartphones, projected systems;
  • wearable, e.g. AR/VR glasses;
  • control units, e.g. sensors, robots with integrated services. 


How and when to apply 

SMEs may apply for the COTEMACO support programme at any time. Applications will be evaluated and answered within 20 working days.  

Before applying, it is strongly recommended that the SME gets in touch with its regional COTEMACO partner. 

To apply, the SME must complete all relevant documents and send them to its local COTEMACO partner. The application form will be downloadable from the COTEMACO website soon.

Forms shall be completed in English. Please contact your regional COTEMACO partner if you have problems with this requirement. 


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