Report Open Access
This workshop brought established businesses, start-ups and current EU projects together, and enabled discussions about the opportunities and challenges of digital marketplace business in the materials science space. Both the established and emerging marketplaces had in common that their main asset was to take barriers away, so that …
The established marketplaces, Materials Square, OneAngstrom, IdeXlab and Matmatch do provide sophisticated infrastructure to enable this in a safe and stable environment. They offer simple payment options (often similar to plans provided by mobile phone providers) and give a transparent overview on service included. Support is provided to help suppliers to provide their products (APIs, etc.) and buyers are aided with how to operate the platforms. Marketplaces, that offer services to non-experts, offer information, training and case studies, to enable onboarding to an offered service. All these marketplaces had in common that they experienced and understood the barriers their buyers encounter, and they could reason well why their offerings can break these barriers. It is pertinent, to understand the market and gain business skills and investment to develop further.
The EU marketplaces, VIMMP, MarketPlace, MARKET4.0, DOME4.0, and WeldGalaxy are in the fledgling stages of becoming business. However, they could convey why they are developing their platforms and who could profit how. When comparing the technical effort that feeds into developing a marketplace, we can see that a consortium can match a professional setting with ease. When it comes to marketing, we can see a gap open. In fairness, many H2020 projects lead to a technology readiness level (TRL) too low to embark on the practical side of business. However, the theoretical side of business is well covered with documentation of key exploitable results, innovation continuation plans, and business models. During the workshop it became clear, that the EU projects need to invest time in finding users for their platforms and each member of the consortium shall involve their networks. The projects may have to identify persons who wish to carry the idea further and put all the effort in to move from idea/prototype to business. 3rd party funding of some sort will be necessary and potential investors will want to see evidence that a marketplace will work.
 Horizon 2020 is the eighth framework programme funding research, technological development, and innovation, which ran from 2014–20.