The TRUST project aims to boost research excellence in the area of INDUSTRIAL SUSTAINABILITY by increasing the scientific and technical capacities. This will allow to support and engage European industries in their pathway to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. TRUST partnership brings together ISQ, a Portuguese research institution and two internationally-leading universities – University of Cambridge and Chalmers University.

In TRUST, ISQ will be building upon their experience and development potential it has demonstrated in this area to address their issues related to the lack of both scientific culture to systematize/theorize of their project results (leading to poor scientific productivity) as well as lack of specialized training in emerging sustainability assessment and management tools.

The TRUST concept will be achieved following an approach based on an active shared learning strategy, based on:

  1. Training of staff on-campus, on-line courses and webinars;
  2. joint initiatives including staff exchange, joint supervision, experience of different research & organizational cultures, scientific review, organization of biannual summer schools and joint scientific publications and
  3. dissemination and communication strategy allowing the engagement of relevant stakeholders, namely by TRUST workshops and annual stakeholder exchange forums, to foster the identification of new partnerships and industrial driven research opportunities.

The TRUST partnership will not only improve the scientific and technical capacities of ISQ but will also set the basis for a long lasting cooperation for the development of excellence research in service of the European industry.

This initiative will create a Joint Research Agenda beyond TRUST project lifetime, aiming to contribute to a more balanced development of the European Research. This twining initiatives are aligned with the European Commission strategy for the creation of “stairways to excellence”.


ISQ is a private non-profit making technological association with Public Utility status. ISQ’s mission is to contribute to the constant improvement of industry and services, resulting in an expanded international presence, by collaborating with the state, regional councils and businesses with regard to the sharing and development of technology, new products and processes, structured management practices and quality control, hygiene and safety, energy conservation and environmental protection, and systematic maximization of human resources. The strategy of ISQ growth goes through an increasingly important and sustained presence in the world having offices, branches and affiliates in 20 countries.

ISQ headquarters are at Porto Salvo, Oeiras, Portugal, with national delegations in Oporto, Castelo Branco, Loulé and Sines. At international level ISQ is represented at: Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, China, French Guiana, Mozambique, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Spain, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Timor and USA.

Technological Research and Development is one of ISQ’s core activities, supporting all the services provided worldwide. During the last 20 years, ISQ has acquired a considerable experience in participation and management of European R&D projects (more than 400 projects), namely in LIFE, RFCS, IEE, FP5-7, and H2020 funding programs.

ISQ provides technical expertise to support companies on research and innovation activities, promote sustainability and contribute to their constant improvement. ISQ R&D mission is to research and develop innovative and integrated solutions aimed at enhancing skills, increase differentiation, and maximise sustainability added values. Its implementation involves the development of technology, new products and processes, the application of structured management practices and quality control, hygiene and safety, energy efficiency and environmental protection, and a systematic maximisation of human resources.

University of Cambridge

University of Cambridge (UCAM) is one of the world’s oldest universities and leading academic centres, and a self-governed community of scholars. Cambridge comprises 31 Colleges and over 150 departments, faculties, schools and other institutions. The Institute for Manufacturing (IfM) at the University of Cambridge takes a cross-disciplinary approach, bringing together expertise in management, technology and policy to address the full spectrum of industrial issues. Based in one of the leading integrated Engineering Departments in the world, IfM’s Research Centres addresses Manufacturing Strategy, Technology Management, International Manufacturing, Production Processes, Automation and Industrial Sustainability. The IfM combines industrial engagement and competence in research areas which are key to the issues of sustainability.

The Centre for Industrial Sustainability based at IfM has a track record of success in the core elements needed in sustainable manufacturing. The Centre is also a host of businesses and organisations who are committed to meeting the challenge of industrial sustainability. This engagement with industry ensures that manufacturing businesses both help set the research agenda and actively participate in projects. Operating together we are able to draw upon our individual strengths to create enhanced capabilities and collaborative research. The Centre conducts research to deliver practical solutions to meet these challenges and developing future leaders for the sector.

It has a vision to create a strong and resilient manufacturing sector that creates high-quality jobs, a balanced economy, and addresses social and environmental needs while being competitive in a global, low-carbon, resource-efficient economy.

CHALMERS University of Technology

Chalmers University of Technology is one of three universities in Sweden owned by foundations, however with governmental support. Chalmers provides education for about 8500 full time equivalent undergraduates and about 1150 post-graduates, out of which most of them are full-time employed by the university. In total the university employs more than 2700 people, roughly 1/3 teachers, 1/3 PhD-students, and 1/3 administrative staff. Chalmers is a general technical university with 18 departments and 72 centres, run together with many external partners. The overall theme of Chalmers is “Chalmers for a sustainable future”.

Many activities are linked to different dimensions of sustainability, e.g. sustainable production, energy use, LCA, built environment etc. Chalmers also has the prestigious role of being coordinator for the large graphene program sponsored by the EU. Linked to this proposal, we primarily identify two interesting efforts: Chalmers Production Area of Advance and the Swedish Life Cycle Center briefly described below.

Chalmers Production Area of Advance is a program involving in total 220 researchers at 9 departments. The focus is on the needs for future generations. It is divided into three excellence profiles: Sustainable Manufacturing Processes, Sustainable Production Systems, and Sustainable Product Development. The researchers in this proposal are primarily involved in the production systems field, currently with the following on-going projects: Operator of the future, Socially sustainable production, Sustainable production indicators at factory level, Making production visual in 3D, and Energy-aware decisions for industries.

Swedish Life Cycle Center is a center of excellence for the advance of life cycle thinking in industry and other parts of society. Activities include research, implementation, communication, and exchange of experience on life cycle management to improve the environmental performance of products and services, as a natural part of sustainable development. It is hosted by Chalmers and partnering universities, research institutes, and industry.

The overall goal of TRUST project is to boost research excellence in the area of industrial sustainability. Through the establishment of a long lasting partnership between ISQ, UCAM and CHALMERS, the S&T capacity of ISQ will be improved and the partnership at European level leveraged, fostering therefore the conditions for an effective support and engagement of the European Industry to resource efficiency. To this aim, the TRUST project will aim to address a set of Strategic Objectives as summarized below.

Strategic Objectives:

  • Improvement in the overall scientific culture, research capacity and performance of ISQ
  • Improvement in the overall technical competences of ISQ in advanced and emerging Industrial Sustainability assessment and management methodologies, tools and technologies
  • Development by UCAM of strategic long-term partnerships with Chalmers University and ISQ while extending its current network and reaching out to new European communities.
  • Growing of Chalmers’ European network on the topic of industrial sustainability and combination of Chalmers’ and UCAM’s expertise to increase the European research excellence.
  • Leveraging TRUST partnership at a European level and creation of the enabling conditions for a long-lasting joint collaboration.
  • Promotion of a tighter relationship between research institutions and industry, through the involvement on the relevant stakeholders and as a way to develop oriented excellence research linked with industrial needs and practical problems.

The general objective of the TRUST project is to stimulate and promote the scientific excellence and innovation capacity in the research area of Industrial Sustainability. It is also anticipated to increase the scientific quality of the project partners in order to improve the support to industry. Figure below illustrates the link between TRUST twinning actions and the research topics to be targeted.

TRUST project concept

The concept of sustainability is broad and has been used in different contexts, but the economic, social and environmental aspects, which are inextricably linked, remain the three fundamental pillars that must always be appropriately addressed. Nevertheless, evaluating sustainability and its evolution is a challenging task. For these reasons, this project will focus on two main aspects of sustainability: (i) assessment tools and methods and (ii) management, planning and business models. The main research areas to be addressed are:

  • Resource and Energy Efficiency: TRUST will focus on the reinforcement of knowledge in a broad variety of methods and tools currently available for the assessment and management of resource efficiency including: (i) Life Cycle Assessment; (ii) Social Life Cycle Assessment; (iii) Life Cycle Cost; (iv) Eco-design tools; (v) Eco-efficiency tools; (v) Value Stream Mapping; (vi) Material Flow Analysis. These tools will help inform and explore how to maximize the supply of products, materials, services and other assets that can be used by industry in order to function effectively, with minimum wasted natural resource expenses. They will also assist in the exploitation of the Earth’s limited resources in a sustainable manner while minimising environmental impact.
  • Circular Economy and supporting business models: Until now, all human activities have been based on the paradigm of unlimited resources and unlimited world’s capacity for regeneration. This assumption has changed and awareness has raised about the necessity to shift to a more circular economy, restorative and regenerative by design, aiming to keep products, components, and materials at their highest utility and value at all times. In that perspective, TRUST will focus on the design, application and management of several circular economy business models, including industrial symbiosis, closed loop recycling or product as service.
  • Risk & Value Management: It is crucial for the survival and competitiveness of any business to understand the various risks and opportunities, including natural capital, of the environment in which they operate. . TRUST will focus on different state of the art tools to identify, assess and prioritize potential uncertainties and risks, and how they may be managed across a project lifecycle. Further, value mapping tools will be explored to visualise and discover where value is captured, missed or destroyed across a process, business or wider network.
  • Business Models: Businesses must review the impact of their operations and supply chains on natural capital in order to achieve a better informed strategy, gain commercial savings through increased efficiency, and design a language with which to communicate benefits to external audiences. TRUST will explore new business models that create sustainable competitive advantage.
  • Sustainable production planning: “Green manufacturing” is an objective which must be adopted by all industries with a view to reducing the environmental impact of product and production processes. With increasingly stringent environmental regulations, there is a growing need for efficient production planning models that take into account the trade-off between return and environmental costs. Therefore, TRUST will focus on the reinforcement of knowledge on sustainable production planning models and decision support tools.

The goal of the proposed project is to boost research excellence in the area of INDUSTRIAL SUSTAINABILITY, increasing the scientific and technical capacity to support and engage European industry in its pathway to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

For the Coordinating institution (ISQ), the expected impacts are described below.

The improvement of the technical competencies of its scientific work. This will be addressed by concerted activities which involve traineeships, courses actions, virtual learning, summers schools, networking, researchers exchange, jointly workshops organizations and conference attendance. Through this coordination approach researcher of ISQ will strengthen their scientific and innovation capacities on industrial sustainability subject on a number of topics:

  • Economic assessment tool (e.g. cost/benefit analysis, modelling, regressions, scenarios);
  • Social assessment tool (e.g. sustainable livelihoods, human and social capital measurement, participatory processes);
  • Management techniques, such as decision support tools, integrate chain management, metrics and indicators, manufacturing planning, standards assessment.

With the improvement of the scientific capacity of ISQ R&D+i as a key objective, a majority of impacts will be produced on that organization through:

  • measurable and significant improvement in the overall scientific and innovation capacity in the industrial sustainability area of research;
  • linkages with research intensive counterpart institutions in the UK and Sweden and other EU countries;
  • enhancement of the overall research and innovation potential of Portugal where ISQ is located in (smart specialization).

Improvement will be (e.g.) measured through:

  • increased publications in peer-reviewed journals, as well as the enhancement of research impact through the citations of scientific publications;
  • rise in the conferences attendance, the dissemination of scientific results through posters, oral communications and publications in conference proceedings;
  • reinforced and incentivised exchange of graduated students to be hosted by ISQ, creating a more active and focused team for publications;
  • Incremented networking with leading research institutions, SME’s, Industrial entities and Industrial associations;
  • Incremented number of new projects contracts.

The fact that ISQ is a technology interface centre, allied to the dissemination potential and networks of TRUST supporting entities, will maximize the impact of this initiative and leverage the above mentioned benefits to a national level. Reinforcing what has been already written above:

  • more national and international researchers will be able to receive training (through the ISQ training centre);
  • the level of information shared, not only with industrial sector, but also with regional and national governance entities will increase;
  • a cross-sectorial national industrial sustainability collaborative network (capable of collecting industrial needs and undertake R&D), will be created, allowing the participation of ISQ and other stakeholders in national and international projects in this research field.

Nevertheless, concerning the whole consortium, the twinning activities will be accomplished on a “win-to-win”-based prospect, where all parties can gain from a strong partnership and are committed to engage in a long-term collaboration.

For the University of Cambridge the expected impacts are:

  • In the short-term, this twinning project will support the creation of a strong network around the topics of eco-efficiency, resource efficiency, industrial sustainability, and technology & innovation management.
  • The various events organized by the University of Cambridge (seminars, workshops, courses and summer course) will enable the dissemination of the research outcomes, knowledge transfer and shared expertise from leading researchers in the areas of industrial sustainability and technology management at the University of Cambridge.
  • The EPSRC Centre for Industrial Sustainability is at the forefront of research into industrial sustainability and already has an extended network of organizations interested in sustainability issues. The participation of the experts from this extended network in the workshops and other events will ensure that the research direction is informed by current practices and aligned with industry needs.
  • This will also help establish an agenda for future collaboration and research which in the longer-term will align and strengthen the quality of research amongst the project partners and their respective networks.

For Chalmers the expected impacts are:

  • Through TRUST the range of collaboration will be extended to research activities in Portugal and in the UK. The identification of key performance indicators on factory level is planned to be tested in the UK and another country, possibly Portugal.
  • The Sustainable Production Initiative within Chalmers’ Production Area of Advance will be reinforced by including an international perspective to the program. Indeed, the research conducted by this unit will gain from the international perspectives on economic, social and environmental sustainability brought by the UK and Portugal.

Stronger linkages to other Swedish universities and manufacturing companies, by including the Swedish Life Cycle Center.

TRUST twinning activities aim to improve the scientific research capacity as well as the overall technical competences of ISQ researchers in the field of industrial sustainability. Through the establishment of strategic partnerships with UCAM and CHALMERS, TRUST will further result in the leveraging of this partnership at the EU level; the creation of enabling conditions for a long-lasting cooperation; as well as the promotion of a closer cooperation with industry and other relevant stakeholders within this research field.

The work methodology for TRUST has been structured accordingly, on the basis of a real exchange of experiences and knowledge and very active collaboration between the different participants. Such an approach will allow a continuous development of the research capacity of all involved partners.

From a practical perspective, the TRUST project has been structured around 5 inter-related work packages (WP) to address the project objectives and identified gaps. In order to enhance both the scientific and technical capacity and performance of the participants, active shared learning initiatives are being planned throughout the project as follows:

  • Training activities (WP2) – will include both virtual learning (on-line courses and webinars) as well as on-campus courses at UCAM and CHALMERS premises. Section 3.1.3 details the activities to be developed in this WP, including lists of potential courses to attend;
  • Joint initiatives and Networking (WP3) – will include several staff exchanges between the three organizations during the project life-time; the organization of biannual summer schools and networking activities with external stakeholders. Networking will involve: (i) the organization of one annual stakeholder exchange forum, aiming to promote discussion on industrial sustainability trends, challenges and opportunities; (ii) an active participation of TRUST partners in events promoted by running R&D EU projects on industrial sustainability.

TRUST approach is strongly based on co-creation principles by ensuring the involvement of potential end-users of project outputs into the main tasks and development activities and by engaging a broad set of stakeholders through a consultation process. Through the engagement with relevant stakeholders, e.g. industries, industrial and entrepreneurial associations, scientific and technological platforms, research projects, authorities, the consortium aims to be aware of the major developments, such as cutting edge technology and key topics, but also be conscious of the real industrial needs, and therefore promote industrial applied research. Concretely, the consultation process is achieved by two key initiatives explained herein:

By introducing the theme of industrial sustainability in a European context, we expect:

  • An improvement in the adoption of an eco-efficiency approach by the European process industry, with the introduction of concepts such as resource efficiency, energy efficiency and the emission performance and therefore;
  • An increase in European process industries’ competitiveness;
  • A contribution to the European strategic roadmaps and directives, such as: (i) component process, (ii) advanced manufacturing processes, (iii) adaptive and smart manufacturing systems and (iv) digital, virtual and resource efficient factories.

The expected global impacts of the project are briefly described below:

  • heightening technical and scientific capabilities on industrial sustainability and competitiveness;
  • enhancement of industrial competitiveness focusing on large production scale growth through flexible and adaptable processes that are able to support the demands of market changes, beneath sustainability concerns;
  • improvement of the innovation capacity and the integration of new knowledge in the national context, and the development of the necessary competences to improve novel approaches aligned with industrial management production trends, which clearly contribute to national and regional interests;
  • acquisition of valuable research and technical skills for researchers, preparing them to solve concrete problems;
  • strengthening the network between stakeholders and along the whole value chains, in a life cycle perspective.

Furthermore, the concept of Industrial Sustainability is clearly embedded within the Portugal´s Research and Innovation Strategies on Smart Specialization (RIS 3), which has defined a set of policies and measures to boost competitiveness. Under RIS 3, three subjects have been identified as key to address: innovation and knowledge, environmental sustainability (including energy efficiency) and social cohesion. The importance of Industrial Sustainability is also emphasised in the national strategy, where it is included in the “Industry and Production Technologies” topic, having a strong alignment with the north Portugal regional strategy.