Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Save the date: 14 September for Societal Challenge 5 InfoDay

On 14 September 2016 the European Commission is holding an Information Day and Brokerage event covering the 2017 calls for proposals in Horizon 2020's Societal Challenge 5: ‘Climate Action, Environment, Resource Efficiency and Raw Materials’ in Brussels. The actual call will be launched in autumn 2016.

Societal challenge 5 is a key area of interest for SusChem and features in the SusChem Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda. Interested stakeholders from the research community, businesses and public administration are invited to register as soon as possible for this briefing in Brussels and to start consortium building.

A draft agenda for the meeting is available. The event takes place in the European Commission's Charlemagne building at rue de la Loi 170, Brussels and you can register here.

The event will open with two plenary sessions: the first introducing Societal Challenge 5 on Climate Action, Environment, Resource Efficiency and Raw Materials followed by a session on effective proposal submission; and the second session covers open data and risk management issues.

This will be followed by parallel sessions covering the following topic areas:
  • Nature-based solutions & Cultural heritage for sustainable growth
  • Climate services and decarbonisation, The Arctic dimension and earth observation
  • Raw Materials
  • Circular economy
A full list of call topics for Societal Challenge 5 for 2017 can be found here.

In the afternoon there will be an extended brokerage and matchmaking session.

Live webcast
If you can’t make it to Brussels on 14 September the morning plenary sessions and the parallel sessions will be webcast live (links available nearer the event) and after the event video recordings with sound and integrated slide presentations will be made available online too.

For more information contact the event organisers.

Friday, 15 July 2016

Horizon Prize for #useCO2 and more

The European Commission has recently announced three new topics for its novel Horizon Prizes including one for ‘CO2 reuse’ - an area of great interest to SusChem that features in the SusChem Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda (SIRA). All the three new Horizon Prizes aim to encourage innovation and find solutions to challenges in the area of energy.

The Commission’s Horizon Prizes are 'challenge' prizes that offer a cash reward to whoever can most effectively meet a defined challenge. Their aim is to stimulate innovation and come up with solutions to problems that matter to European citizens.

Worth a total of €3.25 million and funded under the Horizon 2020 programme, in addition to developing products that help cut emissions by reusing carbon dioxide (CO2) the prizes will reward innovative approaches to integrating solar energy into historical buildings, and using renewable energy in hospitals.

Launching the three new prizes Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: "Protecting our rich cultural heritage and providing state-of-the-art hospitals need not be at odds with our goal for a sustainable, affordable and low-carbon energy future. These prizes will help mobilise the talent needed to find new ways to deploy existing technologies to achieve these goals, and the innovative reuse of CO2 will help to tackle climate change, one of the major societal challenges worldwide."

The chemical activation and use of CO2 has been a topic of great interest to SusChem for many years and SusChem closely follows progress in CO2 utilisation and regularly tweets on developments using the #useCO2 hashtag. For example Covestro recently announced the opening of its DREAM useCO2 facility and we have covered EU-funded projects, such as SCOT and BIO-TIC, which look to make use of waste CO2. The SCOT project recently held its end of project meeting.

The topic also features in the SusChem Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda (SIRA).

Prize details
The €1.5 million Horizon Prize CO2 reuse will be awarded to the developer of an innovative product that reuses carbon dioxide (CO2), making a genuine contribution to achieving net emissions reductions.

The €1 million Horizon Prize Low carbon hospital will contribute to finding solutions for using 100% renewable energy sources for heat and power generation in hospital buildings. The award will go to an innovative solution integrating several technologies into one energy system, which can guarantee uninterrupted energy supply.

The €750 000 Horizon Prize Photovoltaics meets history addresses the technical constraints in integrating photovoltaic energy sources in historical urban districts. The prize will be awarded to the most suitable architectural and aesthetical design for a photovoltaic energy system which at the same time presents an optimal technical solution.

Contestants can apply until 26 September 2018 for the Photovoltaics meets history contest and until 3 April 2019 for the two others. Applicants have total freedom in the approach they take to deliver the breakthrough solution. The rules of the contests are available on the Horizon Prizes website.

What are Horizon Prizes?
First a technological or societal challenge, for which no solution has been found, is defined and an award is promised for the delivered breakthrough solution. The criteria for the specific award outlines what the solution must be capable of proving, however the means to reach the solution are not prescribed, leaving entrants total freedom to come up with the most promising and effective solution.

You can find out more about the Horizon Prize process in the video below.

Horizon Prizes are not like the Nobel Prize or the Sakharov Prize that celebrate outstanding achievements performed in the past. Challenge prizes like the Horizon Prizes and the US X-Prizes support and accelerate change in the world and can be an important driver for innovation.

In March 2014, the European Commission announced the winner of its first ever challenge prize to encourage inventors to overcome one of the biggest barriers to using vaccines in developing countries: the need to keep them stable at any ambient temperature. The €2 million prize was awarded to German biopharmaceutical company CureVac GmbH for progress towards a novel technology to bring life-saving vaccines to people across the planet in safe and affordable ways.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Innovation: an Opportunity for Europe Now!

A new report from the European Political Strategy Centre (EPSC) has just been published that outlines the state of innovation in Europe today and how a future innovative Europe could be inspired. Report author, Robert Madelin (pictured right), is the European Commission’s first ever Senior Innovation Adviser. SusChem welcomes this significant contribution to the debate on Innovation and Competitiveness in Europe.

The report 'Opportunity Now: Europe's Mission to Innovate' argues that Europe has always been a world-leading inventor. We retain the core skills and deep science culture that have made this possible. In this century too, Europe can contribute a great share of the world’s new tools: in genomics and biotech, in data and materials, in energy and nutrition, in propulsion and cognition, in health and well-being, both physical and mental.

But will Europe continue its innovation mission? This is not a theoretical or empirical question but one of intent and principle argues Madelin. How do we choose politically to be innovators?

If Europe dropped its mission to innovate, the blame would lie not with the world but with ourselves. But if we choose to hold to the innovator’s path, we can succeed: and in doing so, we shall innovate our way to social inclusion and sustainability as well as to productivity, growth and jobs.

This report clarifies what is at stake for Europe and makes the case for a renewed commitment to an innovative Europe.

You can listen to Robert Madelin talking about the report below.

His main findings are:

It’s Complicated… Innovation happens in complex ecosystems. Too often, we imagine innovation in a linear way, as a pipe-line with inputs and outputs. But where we focus only on the pipeline, we miss the real needs of Europe’s more diverse and demand-driven innovators. We need more open collaboration, both globally and between citizens, governments and inventors at home.

Everyone Must Own their Share in the Revolution The world faces pervasive disruption. Europe can own, not merely experience, this Revolution. Europe can catch the wave because we are a mature community of values and an open society. Europe has what it takes to design and deliver an innovation founded better future of our own: social inclusion and sustainability, as well as growth and jobs, are at stake.

Focus on People, Places and Processes Europe needs better assets as well as a broader vision. We have to get back to basics. The three key foundation actions for innovation are:

  • upskilling Europe’s people,
  • using local strengths to underpin local innovation, and 
  • transforming public processes. 

Seize the Opportunity Now is the time for a fresh start. Feasible initiatives in the year ahead, joined up at local, national and EU level and pursued at scale, will bear fruit by the end of the decade.

The report is the 15th EPSC Strategic Notes. These are analytical papers on topics chosen by the President of the European Commission.

Full notes and references, insight articles and bibliography are included in the e-book version of the report that is available on line.

You can read an article by Robert Madelin on his Innovation report published in E!Sharp here.

About the author
The author of the report is Robert Madelin - the European Commission’s first ever Senior Innovation Adviser. In this post since September 2015, Robert was born in England and joined the UK civil service in 1979 after studying at Oxford University. He joined the European Commission in 1993 and became a Director-General in 2004. During his Commission career he has worked on a wide variety of issues including investment, Asia-Pacific trade, services and biotech in DG Trade, followed by health, food safety, agricultural innovation and consumer protection (2004-2010) and digital innovation, Internet governance, telecoms unions and media policy (2010-2015). You can follow Rober Madelin on twitter via @eurohumph.

About EPSC
The European Political Strategy Centre (EPSC) reports directly to the President of the European Commission and operates under his authority. It is composed of a professional staff of advisers, policy analysts and support staff with appropriate experience and track record, in order to provide professional and targeted policy advice to the President and the College of Commissioners. EPSC provides strategic analysis and policy advice for the President on matters related to the policy priorities, and outreach to decision-makers, think tanks and civil society at large.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Register now for the SusChem Brokerage Event

More details are now available for the recently announced SusChem 2016 Brokerage event which will take place on Tuesday, 13 September 2016, in Seville, Spain. And registration is now open! The SusChem Brokerage event will take place at the FIBES - Seville Conference Centre during the Sixth European Chemistry Congress organised by EuCheMS and the Asociación Nacional de Químicos de España, ANQUE. The Congress itself runs from 11 to 15 September.

The SusChem Brokerage event is a unique opportunity for industry, academia, SMEs and other sustainable chemistry research and innovation actors to get ready to develop consortia and submit funding proposals targeting the more than 70 SusChem-relevant Horizon 2020-2017 call topics with deadlines falling in the period Q4 2016 and Q1 2017. 

The identified call topics include potential projects in research areas such as Raw Materials, Energy Sources, Process Technologies, Material Technologies and Horizontal Issues.

A dedicated registration website has been established for the SusChem Brokerage event and registration is open now. Participation in the event is free to all stakeholders

During the SusChem Brokerage event participants will be able to:

  • Present project ideas to large chemical companies and  the SusChem stakeholder community
  • Meet consortias looking for partners
  • Interact with other stakeholders during the speed dating session

Get involved!
Project ideas for the Horizon 2020-2017 can be submitted on the GRANT-IT portal. All submitted project ideas will be made available to the SusChem community and will allow interested partners to contact you for meeting requests when the SusChem Brokerage event 'speed dating' tool is open.

For additional information on the event and for questions related to accommodation or how to access the venue, please visit the SusChem 2016 Brokerage event registration portal at suschembrokerage.comThe SusChem 2016 Brokerage event is jointly organized with SusChem Spain.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Chemistry for the World of Tomorrow - 23 October 2016

The International Solvay Institutes are pleased to announce the organisation of their annual public event on Sunday 23 October 2016 afternoon at the Flagey Studios in Brussels. The theme of the 2016 event is ‘‘Chemistry for the World of Tomorrow’’. The lectures are intended for the general public and will be given on fascinating subjects at the frontiers of sustainable chemistry.

The two featured lectures will be:

The lectures will be followed by a panel discussion of distinguished scientists led by Professor Kurt Wüthrich (ETH and Scripps Institute), 2002 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry. The audience will have the opportunity to ask questions to the panel on the most pressing issues facing today’s chemistry.

The lectures and debate will be delivered in English with simultaneous translations to Dutch and French provided.

The event is free but participants are requested to register. Registration will be open at the beginning of September on the Solvay Institutes web site.

The International Solvay Institutes owe their existence to the vision of Ernest Solvay, who founded the International Institute for Physics in 1912 and the International Institute for Chemistry in 1913.

About the Solvay Institutes 
In 1970 the Solvay family in association with the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), founded an independent body, the International Institutes for Physics and Chemistry, founded by Ernest Solvay, to continue that important quest for the advancement of scientific knowledge established by the Solvay Institutes.

Over the years, the International Solvay Institutes have become a symbol of scientific excellence, and one of the best known Belgian research institutions, consistently supported by the Solvay family (for more than 100 years now, spanning five generations).

Friday, 1 July 2016

'SusChem Inspired' Project Package Published

CORDIS (the Community Research and Development Information Service) has just published a package of 13 summaries of “SusChem-inspired” FP7 projects. The projects cover a range of subjects within the overall theme of ‘Energy efficient process industries: Furthering Europe’s ambitious environmental targets’. Greater energy efficiency in Europe’s process industries contributes to Europe’s long-term competitiveness and helps to meet highly ambitious environmental objectives.

Over 450 000 enterprises and around 6.8 million jobs are dependent on Europe’s process sector, which includes chemicals, engineering, minerals and ore, non-ferrous metals, steel and water. The process industries, which generate more than EUR 1.6 billion in annual turnover and represent 20% of the EU’s total industrial production, are absolutely vital to Europe’s economy and long-term industrial competitiveness.

However, these vital industries have to face the key challenge of reducing their high dependency on resources. Although energy efficiency in industry across the EU has gradually improved (by an average of 1.8% per year up until 2009), there is still much work to do to encourage the uptake of cleaner technologies, more efficient methods and better industrial procedures to reduce environmental impact.

Achieving a better environmental footprint for the process industries is now even more pressing due to the EU’s target to cut its emissions to at least 40% of 1990 levels as a part of its comprehensive 2030 climate and energy framework. In April 2016, the EU also formally signed the Paris Agreement on Climate Change (COP21), formally committing the Union to fully embracing the transition to a low-carbon economy.

The CORDIS Results Pack showcases some SusChem-inspired and EU-funded projects that have taken up the challenge of developing the novel methods and enabling technologies that will increase energy efficiency in industrial processes.

Project examples
Examples include the implementation of more sustainable and less-resource dependent manufacturing methods, the design and optimisation of new and accurate computational frameworks and software, and the cultivation of better international cooperation.

The full list of projects described in the package is:
  • MORE developed new tools to help large plants achieve resource efficiencies including new resource efficiency indicators and software that can be easily integrated into large processing plants in order to achieve optimal daily performance.
  • TOP-REF worked on novel resource indicators and tools for competitive and sustainable continuous processing that will lead to the substantial improvement of resource efficiency in energy intensive industrial processes within the agro-chemical, chemical and petrochemical industries.
  • MAPSYN researched new techniques to energise the EU chemical industry through new energy sources and catalysts that can achieve cost efficient, high yield chemical production and boost competitiveness.
  • CYCLICCO2 was one of the first project to investigate conversion of carbon dioxide into commercially viable chemicals in a sustainable way that could be scaled-up for energy efficient industrial use.
  • ALTEREGO helped to ‘green-up’ the chemical industry with efficient alternative energy sources including ultrasound, microwave and non-thermal plasma technologies to power chemical processes, replacing fossil fuels and achieving higher levels of energy efficiency.
  • R4R used stronger regional cooperation to drive innovation in energy and resource efficiency forward in Europe’s chemical and processing industries.
  • InnoREX looked to accelerate the production of ‘green’ biobased plastic polymers in an environmentally-friendly, energy efficient and commercially viable process. 
  • COOPOL produced new monitoring tools for more efficient polymer processing in the chemicals sector that will improve polymerisation reaction quality and provide new continuous production methods.
  • E4WATER helped to cut water use in the European chemical industry by creating novel systems and processes and make the European chemical sector more competitive.
  • OPTICO developed an adaptive and integrated computational framework for intensified processes in the chemical and biochemical industries consisting of multi-scale, multi-phase phenomena-based modelling technologies, and advanced process analytical tools.

Thursday, 30 June 2016

Gaseous Industrial Effluents and Industrial Symbiosis

The Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME) has launched an invitation to tender for the extension of the services of the European Sustainable Chemicals Support Service (ESCSS) to additional Model Demonstrator Regions. This phase 2 of the ESCSS will have a special emphasis on facilitating the recovery of Gaseous Industrial Effluents (GIEs) as non-fossil feedstock for sustainable chemicals production. 

This Phase 2 of the ESCSS follows up on Phase 1 launched in February 2016. This extension of the services of the ESCSS will focus on how recovery of GIEs as an alternative to fossil feedstock can be best exploited to produce sustainable chemical products.

The GIEs of interest for the extension are gases originating in combustion and exothermic process as effluent gas from energy intensive industries, such as steel or cement, and could include CO, CO2, NOX, SO2, H2 and others.

Phase 1 aimed to help regions establish and further develop sound strategies towards sustainable chemical production in Europe by taking advantage of domestically available feedstock, such as biomass, waste or CO2. The experiences from this initiative will be shared with other interested European regions to provide practical guidance on how to strengthen cross-sectorial cooperation between chemical industries and other industries and sectors, notably, agriculture, forestry, energy intensive industries, waste management and recycling, and can help many regions in Europe to move towards a circular and low-carbon economy by using renewable resources for chemicals production.

Six "Model Demonstrator Regions" were selected following the Call: Andalusia, Groningen-Drenthe, Kosice, Scotland, South and Eastern Ireland, and Wallonia.

Phase two
This Phase 2 aims to deepen the support services provided by the ESCSS. Special emphasis will be laid on the use of various GIEs as a potential feedstock for the manufacturing of sustainable chemicals in Europe for the following reasons:

  • GIEs are the least developed alternative feedstock. Relatively little information exists about the economic potential of transforming GIEs into chemicals and about the impact on CO2 and other Green House Gases (GHGs) reductions
  • The recovery of GIEs as an alternative feedstock for chemicals production requires new forms of cross-sectorial cooperation - industrial symbiosis - that are very different from the use of biomass or the recovery of waste. 

At policy level, there is relatively little awareness about the potential of GIEs recovery and how to support the new forms of cross-sectorial cooperation that is needed to better exploit it.

The use of GIEs is challenging because of the need for a deeper integration of different industrial activities leading to industrial symbiosis. Industrial symbiosis will facilitate investments, in particular in resource efficiency, circular economy and energy infrastructure.

Recovery of GIEs is also a challenge in terms of ecological and economic viability; there is therefore a need for deeper reflection on this issue, taking into account policy objectives, such as, strengthening Europe's industrial base, ensuring the security of feedstock supply and further implementation of European policies related to climate change.

Potential IPCEI
In addition the Commission is supporting the elaboration of a potential Important Project of Common European interest (IPCEI), which engages major players from several Member States and companies from various industry sectors to speed up the transformation of CO2 into value for a rejuvenated European economy and to gain global technology leadership in clean technologies.

This potential IPCEI will be designed as a transnational integrated project across public and private sectors that can propel Europe to global leadership in the transformation of CO2 into value-added products and services. The Commission has already hosted a workshop as well as informal meetings with Member States and industrial stakeholders involved in the elaboration of this IPCEI project. The results from this discussion are being used by the Commission to develop new ideas on how to further promote the concept of the circular economy in the specific field of GIEs.

The overall objective of ESCSS Phase 2 is to prepare a road map that aims at valorising the concept of recovery of GIEs in Europe as alternative to fossil feedstock to produce sustainable chemicals. This will also contribute to the industrial policy objective of modernising EU manufacturing industries and enabling industrial symbiosis in Europe, and further implementation of the Circular Economy Action Plan.