Mathematics underpins all of modern science and technology but advances in mathematical research are not always applied to maximum advantage in industry. The objective of this Action has been to create a Europe-wide partnership to promote collaboration in, and the benefits of, industrial mathematics. The Action has run European Study Groups with Industry (ESGIs) and Industrial Workshops (IWs), it has supported Modelling Weeks (MWs) as training activities and Short-Term Scientific Missions (STSMs), with the general aim of increasing the interaction between industry and academia.
ESGI is Europe’s leading workshop bringing together mathematicians and industrial companies. Companies submit mathematical problems for the study group to solve, participants work in groups around each problem, presenting the results of their efforts to industry at the end of the week. A written report on each problem is drawn up and presented to the companies. To familiarise students with some of the standard techniques of industrial mathematics, the idea of a mathematical modelling week was devised. Here, students work on carefully prepared real-world problems advised by experienced researchers with a strong track record of successful collaboration with industry.
COST Action MI-Net started in May 2015, with 23 countries of which 9 (39%) were ITC and 1 (Israel) a cooperating state, represented by 48 MC members in total. By the end of the action, the network grew to include 32 countries (16 ITC (50%) and 16 non-ITC) represented by 61 MC members.
The Action has been set up so that funds for meetings and training schools are attributed through an open competition. Calls have been open 4 times a year and widely advertised so that an inclusive and fair distribution of funds has been achieved. Preference has been given to ITCs, early career investigators and female applicants. With the view to encourage and support the hosting of industrial workshops, study groups and modelling weeks we have set up a mentoring scheme, which has proven to be very successful in delivering the first study group in 9 countries, moreover the first modelling week in Israel and the first industrial workshop and modelling week in Macedonia. To further assist and support study groups and modelling weeks we have developed handbooks with instructions on how to host these one-week long meetings.
In total, MI-Net has supported 21 European Study Groups with Industry involving 80 companies from all over Europe (90% SMEs). In addition, 12 modelling weeks, 23 Industrial Workshops and 51 STSMs have been funded. MI-Net funded events have been attended by 3000 participants from 46 countries.
By exploiting innovative concepts of industrial and applied mathematics MI-Net has provided European industry with a competitive advantage. Academic members of MI-Net are benefiting from a wide and stable European network and a wealth of particularly relevant and cutting edge research problems related to industrial problems. The training of Early-Career Investigators in particular is creating a generation with problem solving and communication skills and collaborative links that will be essential to maintain the goals of this Action in the future.