Increased Competitivness Through Efficient Man and Machine Collaboration (COTEMACO)

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

Through a support programme, the aim is to encourage 60 SMEs from the automotive and food industry to use factory labs to develop their knowledge of new technologies in a realistic setting. This is designed to lower the threshold for their actual implementation, enabling companies to increase their competitiveness, leading to a potential extra turnover within the sector of 50 million euros and 125 new jobs.

The Challenge

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 and these tasks do not utilise the full potential of employees. Flexible production that meets the market demand for hyper-personalisation and the production of small quantities (batch production) is considered paramount to maintain a competitive edge and keep jobs within the region. Yet very few SMEs know what collaborative robotics entails and are therefore hesitant to invest in this technology. 


Four research partners in the project (National Centre for Food Manufacturing, Flanders Make, Zema and FoodTech Brainport) will each set up or unlock factory labs that demonstrate specific steps in the production process. This aims to increase awareness and factual knowledge among SMEs in North-West Europe. SMEs will have the opportunity to test and experience hands-on how collaborative robotics and digital technologies operate in recognisable and industrially relevant settings, reducing the threshold for adopting these technologies.

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

  • The United Kingdom: The University of Lincoln – National Centre for Food Manufacturing and the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership
  • Belgium: Flanders Make (Leading Partner), Voka Limburg
  • Germany: Zema, BEST-Advice Center for Socially Acceptable Technology-Designing (incorporated association)
  • The Netherlands: HighTech NL, FoodTech Brainport


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

The partners aim to support in the following areas:

  • 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 is from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).


Find out how #cobots keep jobs in Europe and relocate production closer to home.

Janet Bellamy
01406493097 / 07971557105

More information on the project activities can be found on the COTEMACO website.


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