EIT Manufacturing welcomes the Lithuanian Ministry of Education, Science and Sport to its offices in Paris


On 6 December, representatives of EIT Manufacturing met a delegation of the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport of Lithuania to identify synergies that can further enhance the innovation capacity of the country.

Lithuania is among the top locations for manufacturing with a larger part of its total value added generated by the manufacturing industry, focused on the automotive and industrial machinery sectors. In this context, EIT Manufacturing, a Knowledge and Innovation Community supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), a body of the European Union, has been eager to strengthen ties with the Lithuanian national authorities in order to contribute to the flourishing Lithuanian manufacturing industry.

On 6 December, EIT Manufacturing welcomed Vice Ministers for Education, Science and Sport Ms. Agne Kudarauskienė, and Mr. Gintautas Jakštas in its offices in Paris. They were accompanied by Ms. Jurgita Petrauskiene, counselor for Education and Science in the permanent Representation of Lithuania to the OECD and former Minister of Education and Science. EIT Manufacturing was represented by its CEO, Mr. Klaus Beetz, Dr. Konstantinos Georgoulias, Director of Regional Innovation Scheme (RIS) and EU Affairs, and Ms. Francesca Girardi, RIS Operations Manager.

Klaus Beetz, CEO of EIT Manufacturing, explained that “EIT Manufacturing’s goal is to bring the manufacturing actors in Europe together in innovation ecosystems, by integrating the three sides of the knowledge triangle: Education, Innovation and Business Creation. Collaborating with national authorities, especially the ones from EIT RIS eligible countries, is extremely important for our mission.”

During the meeting, EIT Manufacturing presented its main activities implemented in Europe covering the areas Innovation, Education and Business Creation. The host also provided insights and opportunities under the EIT Regional Innovation Scheme (RIS) for stakeholders coming from the Lithuanian manufacturing sector. The Regional Innovation Scheme (RIS) is the EIT Community’s outreach scheme to enable the transfer of good practices, experience and know-how emerging from the EIT Community’s activities, to widen participation in EIT activities across Europe and to ultimately boost the innovation capabilities of the RIS eligible countries by strengthening linkages among key innovation actors. The two delegations then elaborated on concrete areas of possible cooperation, diving deeper into the education and training opportunities provided by EIT Manufacturing.

We are glad to see what EIT Manufacturing can offer to enhance innovation and to up- and reskill the manufacturing workforce, especially with the EIT Manufacturing RIS Programme”, said Vice Minister Agne Kudarauskienė. “The work that EIT Manufacturing does in terms of educating students in high schools and universities, and with its specialised Master and PhD-Programmes, is very important in order to develop the entrepreneurial skills needed for establishing and growing innovative businesses”, added Vice Minister Gintautas Jakštas.

The two parties agreed that a cooperation between EIT Manufacturing and the Lithuanian Ministry of Education, Science and Sport in common areas of work would be highly beneficial for the Lithuanian innovation ecosystem. The meeting represented a first step towards a fruitful long-term collaboration.

It was great to see that we share the same vision for educating, upskilling and reskilling the current and future Lithuanian manufacturing workforce. It has been a very productive discussion and we all agreed to meet soon again and discuss further our plans”, highlighted Dr. Konstantinos Georgoulias after the meeting.

Background Information

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) strengthens Europe’s ability to innovate by powering solutions to pressing global challenges and by nurturing entrepreneurial talent to create sustainable growth and skilled jobs in Europe. The EIT is an EU body which is an integral part of Horizon Europe, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation. The Institute supports the development of dynamic pan-European partnerships – EIT Knowledge and Innovation Communities – among leading companies, research labs and universities.

EIT Manufacturing is supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), a body of the European Union. It is one of eight innovation communities within EIT. The others are EIT Climate-KIC, EIT Digital, EIT Food, EIT Health, EIT InnoEnergy, EIT Raw Materials, and EIT Urban Mobility. EIT Manufacturing’s main goal is to bring European stakeholders focused on manufacturing together in innovation ecosystems that add unique value to European products, processes and services and inspire the creation of globally competitive and sustainable manufacturing. EIT Manufacturing brings together more than 65 organizations (universities, research institutes and business).

RIS I40 H: How can SMEs & Start-Ups Advance in the Digital Transformation?

The digitalization of production and management processes can significantly help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in coping with crisis periods, as well as prepare them for post-crisis transitions. A consortium of institutions involved in the EIT Manufacturing “RIS Industry 4.0 Hubs” project has led an initiative in the form of specialized digitalization seminars and targeted grant support for European SMEs, to support them in digitizing their manufacturing and supply chains. The LINPRA association participated in the project in Lithuania with the aim to help the development of local ecosystems. In six countries, more than a hundred companies took part in individualized seminars and 14 companies received direct support and consultations.

Within the EIT Manufacturing “RIS Industry 4.0 Hubs” (RIS I40H) project, LINPRA together with six more European partners implemented the so-called Regional Innovation Scheme (RIS) to boost innovation capacity and transfer of good practices in European countries that are considered “modest and moderate” innovators. SMEs are encouraged to take advantage of digitalised technologies and improve their digital skills and competencies. For this purpose, the project team organised series of digitalization seminars namely in Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Estonia, and Greece. The project also provided support to the industrial beneficiaries via an open call, in which companies could apply for mini-grants and get either digital consultations or digitalization plans.

“Within the 12-month RIS I40H project, coordinated by BIBA at Bremen University in Germany, our team conducted a 3-step methodology that helps SMEs on their way to implementing Industry 4.0 solutions based on digital technologies,” said Aurelija Raščiuvienė, Project manager, LINPRA. In the first step, interactive seminars were organised with a proven structure and content that provided introduction of Industry 4.0 technologies to SMEs and served for scanning digital competences of SMEs. Seven seminars in six countries were held and attended by more than 100 participants. In the second step, individual consultations and in-depth evaluations of the digital maturity of companies’ operations were provided to navigate enterprises in priority areas for digitalization. The third step consisted of the creation of a concrete roadmap for individual companies, to guide the implementation of particular digitalization plan.

“In challenging times like nowadays, industrial companies tend to postpone the above-mentioned activities although they feel these are essential to digitalize their operations,” added Aurelija Raščiuvienė. “Therefore, as a result of an open call financed by the EIT Manufacturing, we supported 14 SMEs with mini-grants,” explained Raščiuvienė.

In Lithuania, five companies received digitalization plan servicesFor example, Altechna Coatings, a company based in Vilnius, one of the largest producers of optical coatings in Lithuania which cooperated with SMART manufacturing competence centre “Intechcentras” to conduct digitalization audit and prepare digitalization plan.  “We received positive feedback, as well as valuable criticisms and extensive counsel, on how to further automate and transform our operations management,” confirmed Vytenis Jočys, Quality and Process Engineer, Altechna Coatings. “We also learned more about whats, whys, and hows for potential improvements. All this has resulted in a clearer pathway and much-appreciated external impetus towards digital transformation of our company processes.”

EIT Manufacturing is Europe’s leading manufacturing community, one of the newest (established in 2019) of eight innovation communities belonging to the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT). The communities are public-private partnerships, partly financed by the European Union and partly financed by their partners, who include some of Europe’s leading enterprises and research organisations.


New EIT Manufacturing project DeCoTe (Democratizing Cobot Technology) has started

We just started the DeCoTe (Democratizing Cobot Technology) project, which brings fresh wind to the area of robotics. Targeting on people interested in robots as a hobby as well as on professionals looking for a hand-on experience. The 1-day workshop developed during the project will include a program consisting of a combination of interactive desktop learning nuggets and practical tasks to be mastered.

The participants will immerse into the topic of collaborative robotics in a proactive and innovative way and get an introduction into this increasingly relevant technology. With the aim of understanding the basics of this technology and learning about safety aspects. Upon completion, participants will be able to master simple programming tasks and design a basic (industrial) application.

The workshops will be held in (semi-)public facilities (open workshops, design factories, innovation labs, and makerspaces) in RIS (Regional Innovation Scheme) countries all over Europe. At every location, there will be workshops where participants will learn how to use the cobot as a tool for worker assistance for a manufacturing use case. These workshops will consist of four main parts: a) an introduction to cobot’s technology, b) a briefing on the safety aspects, c) an introduction to the cobot’s control and d) a hands-on activity for provided manufacturing problem solution.

We are looking forward to all visitors of the workshops and are confident that they can be physically held in the second half of 2021! The list of dates and locations will be updated on an ongoing basis!

Our project consortium consists of TU Wien, LMS Patras, LINPRA and VGTU and is financed by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), a body created by the EU.

Let us meet in the closest our workshops!

Links to EIT Manufacturing:

Project ideas introduced at EIT Manufacturing workshop

#EIT #EITmanufacturing #regionalinnovationscheme #RIS

EIT Manufacturing Innovation Workshops organized by LINPRA and Kaunas University of Technology took place this week in order to encourage Lithuanian companies, educational institutions, start-ups to initiate and develop projects relevant to industry, search for partners and possibilities within EIT Manufacturing.

✔️ The focus was on the INNOVATION workshop, attended by 8 companies with their innovative technology ideas.

✔️ The EDUCATION session presented in detail the EIT Manufacturing programs and supported activities in the field of education. Ideas of possible projects were discussed: 1) to train the operators of production companies – to retrain / train in the workplace – using real and virtual reality models; 2) to develop creativity in the workplace by organizing hackathons in companies and between vocational schools, as well as among students. Ideas will be developed to turn them into real projects.

✔️ In the BUSINESS CREATION session, representatives of LINPRA, Startup Lithuania and Katalista Ventures discussed the topics of projects that would be of maximum benefit to Lithuanian start-ups and SMEs.


#DIGINNObest: Advanced technologies and solutions are the recipe for manufacturers’ competitiveness. HODA and SARGASAS cases

For years, entrepreneurs and industrialists have been talking about the concerning and ever-widening gap between rising wages and labour productivity. According to the Bank of Lithuania, wages in the country increased by 19 %, and productivity by as little as 2.9 % in 2012-2016 alone. But industries are encouraged to invest in progressive solutions and technologies that improve operational efficiency not just due to the above circumstance.

“After reviewing the range of our manufactured parts, we realized that there was a number of products the price of which went down over the last ten to fifteen years, leave alone going up. This happened primarily due to growing competition. After all, manufacturers nowadays often compete not on the national or regional, but on the global level. Thus, to prevent losses and to make profit, we had to invest in solutions that increase productivity,” says Raimundas Gražys, CEO of Hoda, manufacturer of plastic components.

Reducing manual labour

Located in Molėtai district, Hoda is the largest manufacturer of plastic products in the Baltics. The company moulds parts for the automotive, furniture industry, and home appliance manufacturers.

To increase its productivity, last December the company completed a project to expand its manufacturing facilities, and acquired 17 new plastic injection moulding machines and 27 industrial robots.

Raimundas Gražys refers to the latter as additional, automatic working hands. At the factory, the robots operate the injection molding machines and pack the manufactured parts.

“I would not dare to say that our factory has already entered the so-called Industry 4.0 development phase, where big data, artificial intelligence, and robotics are used in production. The production process has not been fully automated yet. For example, even though the packaging machine is Swiss, it also makes errors, so the packages undergo careful human inspection. But the amount of manual labour gradually reduces at Hoda,” says the CEO.

The investment of the factory in the premises expansion and equipment upgrades reached 3.8 million EUR. A project part amounting to one million EUR was funded by the European Union.

According to Raimundas Gražys, the upgrade benefits are obvious: Hoda’s labour productivity jumped by a third. He says that with full production load, the investment could pay off in five years.

“However, we estimate that the investment will fully return in ten years. Such a timeline is perfectly normal, the acquired machines are reliable, made by European manufacturers, and they will certainly last long,” says the factory CEO.

UAB Hoda production site 

Doubled productivity

Inga Šileikytė, the Head of Sargasas, another engineering industry company, which produces high precision metal mechanics, gives a slightly different view. The company, predominantly manufacturing parts for the laser and optics industry, is completing a production digitization project to install smart sensors on the machines for real-time measurements.

The company’s investment in these technologies developed by a Lithuanian company Prodivi amounts to about 150,000 EUR.

“According to our calculations, the investment has already paid off. The turnover increased significantly, and we do much more with the same capabilities. With the implementation of digital solutions, the company’s productivity doubled: the amount of products manufactured during the same time unit has increased, and the useful working time has grown up,” – comments Inga Šileikytė.

Sargasas mainly produces parts for Lithuanian laser and optical companies, and exports about one fifth of its produce. Production orders are small, and precision parts are predominantly manufactured individually, so there is no need to robotise production.

However, getting accurate data at all times is critical in such high precision manufacturing.

“Until now, we could not even accurately estimate the cost of our products as we did not know the duration of some production cycles. We realized the need to get real-time information on what was happening with our machines every moment. By installing smart sensors, we can monitor the production process, react promptly in case of faults, monitor productivity and efficiency indicators, assess loads, capacities, and evenly distribute works and schedule orders,” she says.

UAB Sargasas product 

Artificial intelligence will be used

Sargasas is among the top and most advanced companies in Europe engaged in such activities. However, the company does not intend to stop looking for ways to apply digital solutions to drive operational efficiency. The company’s further plans are to improve manufacturing processes through the use of artificial intelligence.

“The factory-installed digital solutions now provide a wealth of data that we can monitor in real time. However, the next step includes software that would both track data, and suggest how to use available capabilities, plan equipment and human work most efficiently. Based on information too vast for a man to process, artificial intelligence will be able to help in organising the company’s operations,” says Inga Šileikytė.

Hoda also intends to keep improving its productivity with the help of advanced technologies. Solar modules have already been delivered to the factory and, according to the CEO, a solar power plant will be installed there in the upcoming 2-3 months. The next development stage is a modern raw material warehouse with a central system for raw material feeding.

According to Raimundas Gražys, such a system would allow feeding raw materials to plastic injection molding machines directly from the warehouse instead of keeping them near the machines in the manufacturing premises. This would allow for a more efficient use of the occupied space, speeding up the production process, and reducing manual labor.

However, machines should not take labour away from humans. The Sargasas team, which is rapidly implementing smart technologies, has even grown considerably in recent years, from 54 to 78 employees.

According to the company Head, the number of orders and new machines is growing, so the number of employees is not reducing. On the contrary, the company faces a shortage of staff, predominantly operators. To this end, they cooperate with Jeruzale Labour Market Training Centre, which trains workers with required skills.

According to the Hoda CEO, the company does not currently face a major challenge due to a lack of specialists. The company employs population of Molėtai district and the surrounding towns, while higher qualified engineers commute from Vilnius.

However, the Company CEO admits that in general, Lithuanian plastic industry suffers greatly from gaps in the education system. There are many plastics manufacturing companies, but no educational establishment trains plastic molding operators because such a training program does not exist at all.

“Of course, when production is robotized, low-skilled workers are less needed. But the need for specialists capable of servicing and maintaining the machines remains, and it will only grow,” says Raimundas Gražys.

A way to stay competitive in the world

Operations of the country’s engineering industries like Sargasas or Hoda grow rapidly. Darius Lasionis, the Head of Lithuanian Engineering Industries Association LINPRA that unites these companies, estimates that production in the sector has grown by 64% over the last decade, while the engineering industry generates about 6% of gross domestic product a year, and it is still growing.

However, the Association Director emphasizes that ensuring the subsequent sectoral development and global competitiveness require targeted efforts by the private and public sectors aimed at developing an investment-friendly environment in the engineering industry, which is still often overlooked.

“Rapid employment of advanced solutions and technologies is also important for Lithuanian business. Only then it will be able to remain competitive in a global environment, which is the key to driving the industrial revolution forward. Digital technologies are already dramatically changing the way we design, produce and sell various goods and services. They will also shape the future markets and business models,” comments D. Lasionis.

Business people agree with this view. According to Inga Šileikytė, increasing the operational efficiency is the only way for business to stay competitive.

“The opportunities to make our products extremely cheap are highly limited. We will not forge our parts any nicer than our competitors do. Thus, efficiency is the only area where we can stand out, and gain advantage. Therefore, hopefully, the highest possible number of national companies will implement advanced solutions, technologies and digitization,” says the Head of Sargasas.