[Interview] Stéphane Klein, President of the EMC2 centre

Stéphane Klein, Président du pôle EMC2

28 February 2022 Innovation Story

Stéphane Klein, the Smart Industry Program Director within Naval Group's Technical and Innovation department (DTI), has recently been appointed President of the EMC2, European centre for manufacturing technologies for the factory of the future, based in the region of Nantes. He takes over from François Paynot, Director of the Airbus factory in Nantes.

What does the EMC2 competitiveness centre do?

Stéphane Klein: Before telling you about the centre’s current role, I'd like to explain its origins. Competitiveness centres were created in France to stimulate collaborative R&D and select projects eligible for State funding through the Interministerial unified funding program (FUI). The objective was to bring companies together but also give them the opportunity to work on projects with the academic world.
Five large industrial companies in the Pays de la Loire region replied to the government’s request to create the EMC2 centre - Naval Group, Airbus, Groupe Bénéteau, Chantiers de l’Atlantique and Renault – and work together on an industry-wide theme: advanced manufacturing, or the factory of the future.

And how has it developed since?

Stéphane Klein: The FUI no longer exists, but the need to carry out collaborative R&D very much does! The centre has had to look for other sources of funding - regional, national and even European. Amongst others, the Jules Verne technological research institute, whose vocation is running R&D projects, has contributed to the EMC2’s creation and has been supporting the project since 2010. And now, EMC2 is setting itself further objectives. The aim of "Trajectoire 2025" is to position the centre as a reference, not only in collaborative support for R&D - the origin of its project - but also in the field of innovation and the transformation of companies, working towards eco-responsible performance.

When was this "green" decision made?

Stéphane Klein: The need for this action became apparent back in 2020 and led to the signature of a manifesto by 80 regional and national company directors and managers. It is based around five main themes, all of which are related to an industry that:

  • is environmentally sober and ecologically responsible;
  • puts humans at the centre of its concerns;
  • is competitive and innovative;
  • is collaborative and inclusive, and;
  • is unsurpassed.

In order to reinforce our approach and give it a clear focus, the centre is organising the Eco-responsible and Sustainable Industry Days on 2 June with the support of Naval Group in the French town of La Baule. During this event, keynote speakers will address these themes, and round tables and exchanges will be held between industrial companies and entities who can offer them solutions...    

Naval Group has involved in the centre since its creation: why is membership so important?

Stéphane Klein: It undeniably provides us a network for exchanging with other industrial companies, start-ups and SMEs, all of which can bring Naval Group solutions in areas we are involved in, such as the factory of the future. It also offers privileged access to academic partners who are references in the fields of competitiveness, digital transformation and eco-responsibility. They can also provide us with considerable means, whether these are IRT* for carrying out projects or prospects for funding.

Why did you decide to take over the presidency?

 Stéphane Klein: Naval Group takes the centre’s sustainability seriously. My presidency is also a means of supporting this entity.

*technological research institutes