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In this project, we introduce food processing companies to the possibilities of Cobots and digital automation. Within this project we support companies with courses, training, drawing up a business plan, supplier selection and the implementation plan.

About this project


COTEMACO (increased competitiveness through efficient man & machine collaboration) is a programme financed by INTERREG North-West Europe to encourage SMEs to implement collaborative robotics and digital technologies.

Through a voucher programme, we want to encourage 60 SMEs from the automotive and food industry to use living labs and, as such, get to know these new technologies in a realistic setting. This will lower the threshold for their actual implementation. In this way, companies will increase their competitiveness, which may lead to an extra turnover within the sector of 50 million euro and 125 jobs.

The project will runs from 2018 to 2022.


The manufacturing industry in North-West Europe is struggling to remain cost-competitive with large-scale production in low-wage countries. In addition, SMEs face a shortage of good employees as some activities are repetitive and physically strenuous. Such tasks do not utilize the full potential of employees. Flexible production that meets the market demand for hyper-personalization and the production of small quantities (so-called batch size 1) is considered paramount to maintain a competitive edge and keep jobs within the region. Yet, only few SMEs know what collaborative robotics entails and are hesitant to invest in this technology.


The consortium includes 8 research centers, Chambers of Commerce and knowledge institutions from Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

The 4 research partners in the project will each set up or unlock living labs that demonstrate specific steps in the production process. This should lead to increased awareness and more factual knowledge among SMEs in North-West Europe. Because in these living labs, SMEs can test and experience hands-on how collaborative robotics and digital technologies operate in recognisable and industrially relevant settings, the threshold for adopting these technologies will be lowered.


Thanks to the support of Interreg North-West Europe, SMEs can make use of vouchers for training sessions, demonstrations or technological support. It concerns a project in which the companies are continuously guided by the project partners.

  • Awareness: the living labs are defined in talks with SMEs.
  • Commitment: interested SMEs come together in a network.
  • Training: these are adjusted to the specific needs and applications of individual companies.
  • Incubation: first-hand experience! In the living labs, SMEs are given the opportunity to test new technologies on company-specific cases.
  • Implementation: the partners support companies with the installation.

 Total project budget: 3.9 million euros, of which 2.35 million euros of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). 

Succesverhalen binnen dit project

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Focus area:

Handsfree production

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Working together on the food industry of tomorrow? We are happy to think along with your challenge, idea or concept and welcome you as a partner.

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