[ENG] ABN Cleanroom Technology receives 500.000€ innovation support for Artificial Cleanroom Intelligence

Category: News
Date: October 15, 2020

ABN Cleanroom Technology, founded by Rosaline Wijnen and Jo Nelissen in 1996, specializes in designing, constructing, validating and maintaining cleanrooms for the pharmaceutical and food processing sectors, as well as for manufacturers active in microelectronics, automotive, biotechnology and operation theatres. By integrating these core activities into one company, they hold a unique position in the cleanroom market with projects that are entirely modular and pre-engineered. The innovation support of 500.000€ that has been granted by VLAIO now allows them to boost their international expansion by integrating Artificial Cleanroom Intelligence (ACI).

Artificial intelligence as dominant vision of the future

Since 2014, the ABN Group has focused on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT) by founding Smartlog. "We quickly found that we could add tremendous value to our customers if we transformed our data-blowing cleanroom installations into intelligent future thinking machines", says CEO and founder Jo Nelissen. "In critical environments such as cleanrooms, the reliability of production processes is crucial. It is in this field of expertise that artificial cleanroom intelligence will play a dominant role in the near future. AI driven analyses -higher uptime, reduced operating and maintenance costs- will become a game changer in the field of cleanroom technology."

The innovation support granted to ABN Cleanroom Technology relates specifically to the development of a SmartBox to apply Artificial Cleanroom Intelligence (ACI) in both existing and new cleanroom facilities. Machine Learning is a complex science that requires a lot of disciplinary knowledge from a team of data scientists. Collecting and analysing machine data is at the basis of any application within artificial intelligence.

"Without these data, it is not even possible to obtain valuable insights. They are of vital importance for companies to make informed business decisions faster than ever before. The growth we are currently experiencing is strongly related to the fact that our cleanrooms are already 4.0 ready", explains Nelissen.

Marc Sevenants, business consultant at VLAIO, has provided great guidance on the content of this case, where he has constantly acted as a reflection board. "Thanks to his input, the preparation and handling of this project went very smoothly", Nelissen confirms. "Marc succeeds successfully in quickly grasping our deep technological knowledge of cleanrooms and translating it into the right business case. I just can’t understand why there are no more SMEs that benefit from this support.”

"But digital innovation within the ABN Group always follows an holistic approach, one where the determining factor is constantly our company culture", CEO Rosaline Wijnen picks in. "Our ABN quote Innovation is everybody’s job is displayed on our company wall for a reason. The world is rapidly transforming into digitalisation, but people are always at the heart of our vision.”

Up to 87% of applied cases approved

The chances of success of companies submitting a project for innovation support are higher than most SMEs expect: "Companies submitting a case for innovation support at Vlaams Agentschap Ondernemen (Flemish Enterprise Agency) have a fairly good chance of their case being approved", states Johan Schildermans, manager of advocacy and knowledge at VKW Limburg.

“In VLAIO’s annual report, we read that 159 research projects and 498 development projects were submitted in 2019. Of the applications processed, 86% and 87% respectively were approved. These are great success rates. A research subsidy file helps you to create a good and well thought-out project plan. Only promising projects receive a subsidy, but preparing the subsidy case helps you to get a promising project. It should of course be considered that prior to submission, an informal ‘selection’ takes place by VLAIO consultants and/or subsidy/innovation consultants who supervise projects. But for those who have a well and thoroughly worked out project, it is definitely worth applying for innovation subsidies. This certainly also applies for SMEs, because today they account for more than half of the 200 million innovation support that has been granted. At VKW Limburg, we are happy to look at the possibilities with you."

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