A platform to Accelerate European Innovation and the Transition to Greener Technologies

i-TRIBOMAT presented in the ELGI-STLE Tribology Exchange Workshop in Amsterdam.

In 2018, the European Commission launched the 1st generation of Open Innovation Test Beds (OITBs) projects to accelerate European innovation. OITBs were expected to create jobs, grow economies, and help reach Europe’s ambitions for a greener planet. One of the fields that was deemed essential to meet Europe’s long-term economic, technological, and environmental goals, was TRIBOLOGY. Among other topics such as composites, lightweight materials, flexible electronics, or batteries, tribology was considered key for the development of innovative advanced materials. Advanced materials can play a vital role in Europe’s transition to a low carbon, knowledge-based economy. All OITBs share a distinctive characteristic, OITBs must be self-sustainable, i.e., OITBs must not depend on public funding to ensure the sustainability and longevity of the platform. Therefore, at the end of each project, an independent organization capable to cover its own expenses (or even generate profit) must be funded. As a result of it, in January 2019, the H2020 project “i-TRIBOMAT” was launched to create a tribology knowledge sharing hub with the goal of “lubricating European innovation”. That includes, aligning the tribological practices of the leading testing centers in Europe (i.e., the creation of new standards and best practices), sharing the tribology infrastructure across Europe, and homogenizing the results of all the centers so all the data generated can be stored in the first online database for tribological test results. In short, the European Commission requested the tribology testing centers involved in the project (i.e., BAM, VTT, AC2T, Tekniker, and LTU) to team up instead of competing – a united European front for tribology. The project (and its funding) finished in 2023 and, since March 2023, an OITB dedicated to tribology is available to industry: The European Tribology Centre (i-TRIBOMAT GmbH). This single entry point for tribological services receives no public funding and, besides generating enough profit to maintain its infrastructure and employees, i-TRIBOMAT contributes to the creation of novel, more efficient, and sustainable standards, helping to bring new innovations to the market faster and boosting the transition to greener technologies.