On July 5-6, 2018, Provence Promotion, the Novachim cluster, and the Team Henri-Fabre participated in an economic mission in the German region of North-Rhine-Westphalia with the French-German Business Club of Provence (CAFAP). This is Germany’s strongest economic region, accounting for over 22% of the national GDP and dominated by the chemical and mechanical industrial sectors, which are particularly competitive in operating large-scale production units and in eco-industry. These two development sectors are supported by Provence Promotion and its partners who went to Dusseldorf to present industry in Provence, its new approaches, and its ongoing projects such as the Call for Projects ‘Provence Industry’Nov’, launched to attract companies towards the themes of applied industrial ecology, the energy transition and energy efficiency, biofuels and bio-industry.
Industry: source of innovation in Provence
Industry has long been a catalyst for growth in Provence and today, more than ever, it is a source of innovation. Within the Aix-Marseille-Provence metropolis, companies are investing to rise to the challenges of tomorrow’s industry. Between 2010 and 2015, they singly or jointly applied for 1200 patents, and €1 billion will be invested by 2021 to modernize the industrial platforms around the Etang de Berre lagoon. This drive is supported by the private sector as well as the public players who are keen to encourage industrial renewal. In this context, Provence Promotion, the Novachim cluster, and the Team Henri-Fabre, supported by the CAFAP, organized a series of meetings with institutional partners, B2B contacts, a site visit, and various networking events.
A full and targeted program of visits
During the 2 days in Dusseldorf, Provence Promotion, the Novachim cluster, and the Team Henri-Fabre presented the investment opportunities offered by the Provence area. The delegation was received at the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Innovation, Digitalization and Energy of the State of North-Rhine-Westphalia (MWIDE), and benefited from open and cooperative discussions on economic development and R&D.
At an evening event on July 5, 2018, each member of the delegation presented their structure and the opportunities for cooperation to around thirty decision-makers from industry and related service sectors (maintenance, analysis, IT solutions, etc.)
Provence Promotion took advantage of this event to highlight the key projects that are shaping the region and are the focus of investment, such as Euroméditerranée, Iter, and thecamp. The agency also gave a detailed presentation of ‘Provence Industry’Nov’, a call for projects with the aim of attracting companies with an innovative industrial project or development project to establish themselves in the region (opening of a new center of production, R&D, logistics, etc.).
Potential synergies on various levels
The attractiveness of the region clearly sparked off interest during this mission. The ministry of North-Rhine-Westphalia asked its teams to study possible synergies with the region of Provence. It was decided that a German delegation will soon be welcomed to talk more about synergies between the two regions in the chemical and mechanical industries.
The Chemie NRW cluster agreed to reinforce its ties with Novachim, which represents the Chemical & Materials companies in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region as well as being a founding member of the CROSSCHIM national cross-network created in October 2017.
Concerning industry 4.0, the activities of the Team Henri-Fabre linked to mechanics and materials and the possibility of sharing tools and equipment also interested two of the ministry’s departments which support the integration of innovative production systems in companies.
Projects in favour of operational collaborations
The mission ended with a visit to the Covestro site at the Chempark in Leverkusen, which is one of the most diversified chemical sites in the world. It makes over 5000 different products according to strict environmental standards and applies highly advanced industrial waste recycling methods. This represents a valuable reservoir of knowledge and know-how for Provence which is strengthening its expertise in this field. Covestro is already present in Fos-sur-Mer on the Piicto platform, and is coordinator of the ‘European Carbon4Pur’ project, alongside a panel of partners including the Marseille-Fos Port (GPMM) and Arcelor Mittal, to develop an industrial pilot site for transforming the CO2 emitted by industrial plants into biomaterials.
As a reminder, at the Marseille-Fos Port, which is one of the largest industrial-port infrastructures in Europe, 83 hectares of real estate have been set aside exclusively for developing eco-industry. A team is even made available to companies, via the ‘Provence Industry’Nov’ initiative, to support these projects and optimize this type of investment.