The challenges linked to new technologies are all around us and becoming increasingly complex. To tackle them head on, A6K–E6K, a multidisciplinary centre located in the heart of the Metropolitan Area, brings together players in the field with a threefold objective: innovation, incubation and education.
“In this ecosystem, various names from industry such as Thales Alenia Space, Alstom and AGC Glass Europe, as well as researchers from ULB and UMons, research centres and start-ups are working together on common issues related to new technologies,” explains Loubna El Messaoudi, head of communications and office manager. “Bringing them together on one site encourages interaction and this in turn promotes innovation.”
Just alongside the Charleroi-Sud train station, the former postal sorting building houses the two closely related structures. “A6K is the workshop where industry professionals come together to innovate. E6K is the school that provides training in digital technologies,” explains Loubna. “This strategic location means we can meet the needs of companies on the hunt for talent. A6K-E6K is also aiming to become a leading name for technology hubs in Europe.”
The shared multidisciplinary centre dedicated to engineering sciences, A6K (Atelier 6000), hosts companies, start-ups, research centres, training centres, competitiveness clusters and universities.
“This model, unique in Wallonia, allows members of the community to meet in order to explore synergies and start up new collaborative projects,” explains Loubna.
Technological subjects to boost innovation
The projects are based on three key themes: communication and embedded systems, energy and power electronics, industry 4.0 and operational transformation. A6K members meet during workshops held on these themes and design technological roadmaps to tackle common problems.
“Activities are organised in the form of technology workshops called ‘TechShare Meetings’ around a common problem. This is how the collaborative project ‘LightSens’ came about, for example, which aims to provide fibre optic measurement solutions,” explains Loubna.
Practical and hands on training in digital technologies
The E6K (École 6000) training centre brings together various operators, such as the IFAPME Centre of Charleroi, Technofutur TIC, BeCode and CampusUCharleroi in order to offer a first-of-its-kind and diverse range of digital training courses in the Charleroi Metropolitan area.
“I’m training in artificial intelligence with BeCode”, says Matthieu, a Data-AI Operator student. “I love the training. We work in project groups, it’s nothing like it was at school. In particular, we have been able to build some things that I would never have dreamed of when we first started, such as a robot or a modelled plan.”
The real draw of this educational centre, which is integrated into a multidisciplinary centre, lies in the relationship between professionals and learners. The former identifies talents that could be useful for their development, while the latter are given open access to a specialist network. This arrangement means that the former can make good hires and the latter can enter positions in line with their expectations.
“I did my internship at Aerospace; one of the A6K members. I was able to apply what I had learned during my training. I worked on a very interesting recognition system: I had to set up an algorithm that recognises certain shapes in an image,” says Matthieu.
A plethora of events
In order to facilitate exchanges between those working on projects, A6K-E6K organises events related to Advanced Manufacturing. “For example, we organise TechShares where members are invited to present research and development projects or technological infrastructures such as the Cenaero supercomputer,” adds Loubna.
In the future, A6K-E6K is expected to build more than 4,000 m2 of extra space: the demand to join the community is growing.
© Vidéo – Reed & Jérome Gobin