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


Flanders Make Symposium 2018: The Future of the Manufacturing Industry

, Kinepolis, Antwerp

On Tuesday 27 November, Flanders Make will host their annual Symposium at Kinepolis Antwerp. During this inspiring day, we will discuss the trends that define the future of the manufacturing industry. FM will illustrate their research results and show concrete cases of companies with whom they collaborate. Their annual Symposium is also a great networking platform. You will meet, among others, CEOs, CTOs and R&D-managers of large companies and SMEs. During these networking moments, you can also join several demonstrations illustrating the results of our partnerships with companies and other research institutions.
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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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