Monday, 2 March 2015

Making it happen for Chemical SMEs

On 24 February the European Chemical Regions Network (ECRN) organised a workshop in Brussels on “Small and Medium- sized enterprises, the engine of the European Industry”. The workshop took place at the Committee of the Regions and SusChem was there to present its activities in support of SMEs in the chemical industry across Europe.

The event was hosted by the Committee of the Regions and was opened by Mr. Hartmut Moellring, ECRN President and Minister of Science and Economic Affairs, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany and Karl-Uwe Buetof, ECRN Vice President and Director, Ministry of Economic Affairs, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. Both ECRN spokesmen stressed the importance of SMEs in Europe, which represent more than 95% of the total industry with slightly differences depending on the specific sectors.

SusChem supports SMEs
Cristina Gonzalez (pictured below) from Feique (the Spanish Federation of Chemical Industries) and the Secretariat of SusChem Spain presented on behalf of SusChem and talked about “Chemical SMEs, making it happen”. The percentage of SMEs in the European chemical industry is more than 95%, with a similar figure for Spain itself.

She presented Cefic and Feique, and explained the role of SusChem, the European Technology Platform on Sustainable Chemistry and its network of National Technology Platforms. She highlighted how Feique and SusChem Spain can help Spanish SMEs in addressing regulation and other aspects having an impact in their daily business activities, such as raising awareness and training them in aspects of the REACH legislation; and the open innovation portal (SusChem innova) to facilitate consortia building.

Finally she presented the SusChem project “Skills needed for Innovation”, a survey run among larger chemical companies to identify skill gaps and requirements. The results of this survey had also been validated with SMEs. She described the SusChem programme “Educate to Innovate” that is focused on exploiting innovation results from R&I projects, enhancing innovation skills and engaging industry and higher education institutions. You can download her presentation here.

Regions for SMEs
Earlier Thomas Wobben, Director of Horizontal Networks and Studies, Committee of the Regions talked about the key role of regional authorities in supporting SMEs. He announced the adoption of the Energy package for Europe to be approved in the Spring Council which will have a significant impact on the Chemical Industry as one of Europe’s major energy users.

The Committee of the Regions interact very closely with the EU regions to promote entrepreneurship in SMEs and to develop fitness assessments on how regulations affect the activities of small and medium companies.

The Small Business Act (SBA) adopted by the EU Commission aims to address the needs of Europe SMEs by establishing 10 principles to guide the implementation of EU policies. Skills and innovation, together with public support for their needs and facilitating information provision are amongst the key principles included.

The Committee of the Regions launched the European Entrepreneurial Region (EER) Award label to facilitate the implementation of the “Small Business Act for Europe” at regional and local levels. This project identifies and rewards European regions with excellent entrepreneurial visions with the label of “Entrepreneurial region of the year”. Some recent winners include the regions of County Kerry (Ireland, EER 2011); Murcia (Spain, EER 2011); State of Brandenburg (Germany, EER 2011) and Southern Denmark (Denmark, EER 2013).

Commission view
Joanna Drake, Director of Entrepreneurship and SMEs at the European Commission DG Growth highlighted the importance of SMEs for the European economy with more than 20 Million companies. She argued that complicity is the key to success; complicity with EU Institutions, National and Regional authorities, all working together to facilitate the existence of small companies, through information and helping them overcome barriers.

The burden of regulation has been identified as one of the major problems for SMEs. REACH has been highlighted as the most unfriendly regulation for small and medium enterprises. As a result, ECHA is now revising the process to help SMEs.

To support/encourage SMEs in Europe, some actions need to be taken into account, including cutting the time and cost for setting up a company; cooperation with authorities at all levels; facilitating access to finance; networking; internationalization; and giving SMEs more visibility. A lack of appropriate skills was also mentioned as a weaknesses for SMEs.

To conclude the workshop, some good practice examples from European chemical regions were presented: the Chemi-Cluster in Bayern; the Competitiveness & Innovation Unit in Wallonia; and KV consulting Services BVBA from Flanders.

Best Practice for Resource Efficiency

The ‘Best Practices on Resource Efficiency for the Chemical Industry’ workshop will take place on 18 March at the CIRCE Office at Rue du Trone 98, Brussels from 9:00. The workshop will discuss how partners in the FP7 R4R (Chemical Regions for Resource Efficiency) project and external clusters have or plan to implement best practice and action plans to make the European Chemical Industry more resource efficient and to discuss potential ways to increase collaboration.

The workshop is a unique opportunity to meet the principle chemical clusters in Europe and learn from their experiences. The main focus will be on non-technical solutions proposed within a cluster to improve the resource efficiency of its members: new business models, structural reorganisations, adoption of tools that facilitate interactions, financing and management for innovation etc.

The outcome of the workshop will be included in documentation to be sent to the European Commission.

You can download the flyer for the workshop here. Places at the workshop are limited. To confirm your participation or for more information, please contact Carlos Arsuaga at CIRCE. The registration deadline for the workshop is 10 March. CIRCE is an energy research centre founded in 1993 with support from the University of Zaragoza in Spain.

About R4R
Launched in late 2012, R4R is funded for three years under the European Commission’s FP7 Research and Innovation Framework Programme. The ‘Chemical Regions for Resource Efficiency (R4R)’ project aims to overcome fragmentation of European ambitious and innovative regions. Through its methodology, R4R could lead the path to a range of promising and positive impacts on resource efficiency.

R4R brings together six complementary EU Regions (Aragon in Spain, Göteborg in Sweden, North Rhine–Westphalia in Germany, the Port of Rotterdam and the South-West regions in the Netherlands, and West Pomerania in Poland), each with their own public and private research and innovation expertise. The R4R project aims to achieve a major step improvement in regional and transnational cooperation among its participating regions and will develop practices, tools and examples which can be easily disseminated to and adopted by multiple European regions to improve regional and cross-regional collaboration in general, and in the process industry on resource efficiency in particular.

R4R will create a platform for international collaboration on resource efficiency with clusters in third countries to improve and accelerate innovation and promote European eco-innovative technologies globally. To find out more visit the R4R website.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Sustainable Energy Europe Awards - Deadline Extended

The EU Sustainable Energy Week 2015 (EUSEW2015) will take place on 15-19 June and as part of this continent-wide array of events the Sustainable Energy Europe Awards are back. Launched by the European Commission in 2006, every year since the Awards have highlighted the very best sustainable energy projects taking place across Europe. And there is still time for you to take part! The closing date is 16 March.

The Sustainable Energy Europe Awards show where you -  private companies, public authorities, energy agencies, NGO’s, cooperatives, chambers of commerce, industry and consumers associations, media, academic institutions and research and technological centres - can make a difference. The awards are the EU's reference prize for sustainable energy projects in Europe. Are you proud of your company’s efforts in reducing its carbon footprint? Does your city deserve further recognition and visibility for its achievements in sustainable energy? If so - don’t hesitate. The Awards are made for you.

If you are involved in a sustainable energy project take part in the Awards competition and get the recognition and visibility you deserve! The winners will be announced in a ceremony to take place in Brussels during EUSEW2015.

Apply now!
The deadline for applications is now 16 March 2015. And applying is easy. Just submit a draft description of your project that you can then adjust after receiving our personalised eligibility feedback.

For the Sustainable Energy Europe Awards 2015 there are three entry categories:
  • Renewable energy
  • Energy efficiency
  • Cities, communitites and regions
Don't delay apply today!

What is EUSEW?
The EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) is an initiative of the European Commission that first took place in 2006. Today, it is coordinated by the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME), in close cooperation with the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Energy.

The EU Sustainable Energy Week showcases activities dedicated to energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions. It is designed to spread best practices, inspire new ideas and build alliances to help meet the EU’s energy and climate goals.

Our aim is to form a bigger picture out of multiple individual efforts to motivate change through a varied programme of events.

For more information please contact the EUSEW Secretariat. You can also follow EUSEW activity on twitter (@euenergyweek) and the hashtag for EUSEW2015 is #eusew15.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Evaluating Sustainability in the Process Sectors

Every year Europe invests millions of Euros to develop new technologies and modify processes and products to bring resource and energy efficiency improvements. However, in order for EU stakeholders and industry to see the true value of these new technologies and modifications, and make informed decisions surrounding their adoption, a consistent approach is needed to assess the sustainability impact across the full value chain. This is particularly challenging when it comes to assessing sustainability across sector boundaries, or in a data lean environment.

The European process industries recognise that assessment of sustainability is an essential component of their business management. As such, many sustainability indicators, tools and methodologies already exist. However, these vary widely in their sophistication, applicability, maturity and usability thereby limiting broad cross-sectoral implementation.

Consequently, three projects have recently been funded through the Horizon 2020 SPIRE Public-Private-Partnership to coordinate studies of current approaches. The projects resulted from the SPIRE-4 call 'Methodologies, tools and indicators for cross-sectorial sustainability assessment of energy and resource efficient solutions in the process industry'. The three projects are:
  • STYLE - Sustainability Toolkit for easy Life-cycle Evaluation
  • SAMT - Sustainability Assessment methods and tools to support decision-making in the process industries
  • MEASURE - Metrics for Sustainability Assessment in European Process Industries
Collectively they have the aim of delivering:
  • Recommendations for the current use of sustainability indicators, tools and methodologies for the SPIRE sectors. These can be used for future SPIRE and other H2020 funded projects to determine the overall sustainability benefits and impacts of the projects.
  • Identification of gaps in the available tools
  • Recommendations for future research needs and standardisation
  • A harmonised roadmap summarising the recommendations across the three projects (available at the end of December 2016)
The three projects
In order to look at certain aspects of sustainability evaluation in more detail, the three projects have specific focus areas:

MEASURE focus: in-depth cross-sectorial life cycle based evaluation approaches supporting sustainable supply chain management.

MEASURE partners: Friedrich-Schiller University Jena (coordinator: Dana Kralisch), Evonik Industries, Procter & Gamble Services Company N.V., ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe, the Technische Universität Berlin as well as the Universities of Cambridge, Manchester and Ghent.

Project Website:

SAMT focus: industrial best-practice and opportunities for cross-sector assessment of energy and resource efficiency.

SAMT partners: VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland (coordinator: Tiina Pajula), Fundacion Tecnalia Research & Innovation, Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment & Energy, CEMEX Research Group AG, Suez Environment, Neste Oil Corporation, Bayer Technology Services GmbH, BASF SE and Asociación Española de Normalización y Certficación.

Project Website:

STYLE focus: pragmatic sustainability tools that can be used by non-specialists.

STYLE partners: Britest (coordinator: Amy Peace), Arcelor Mittal, Britest, Carmeuse, Holcim, IVL, RDC Environment, Solvay, Tata Steel, Utrecht University and Veolia.

Project Website: 

Broad engagement, questionnaire
The projects will build on previous SusChem-inspired projects such as PROSUITE and will be engaging with the broad process sector community through stakeholder workshops, the development of industrial case studies, in-depth interviews, questionnaires, consultations and webinars. The projects are keen to get involvement from a wide range of stakeholders, including:
  • Process sector industries (cement, ceramics, chemicals, engineering, non-ferrous metals, minerals, steel and water representing big and small companies)
  • Sector representatives and trade associations
  • Research organisations and academia
  • Representatives from other Horizon 2020 projects that include sustainability evaluation
  • Public sector bodies
  • Finance and investment organisations 
  • Non-Governmental Organisations 
  • Standardisation bodies
  • End users/ customers of the sectors
If you are interested in being a stakeholder in the projects, or just to be kept informed of progress, please complete this short questionnaire by 6 March 2015. The responses to the questionnaire will inform a joint project workshop to be held at the end of March.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Sustainable Chemistry, Smart Industry and #Digital4EU

Today (24 February) the #Digital4EU stakeholder forum is taking place in Brussels. This one-day event organised by the European Commission includes four main workshops including one on Smart Industry. Sustainable chemistry has a major role to play in supporting the digital agenda in Europe.

ICT and digital innovation is an important technology area for the chemical industry. For decades the chemical industry has made extensive use of ICT systems throughout its value chain, from logistics, to modelling, design, control, monitoring and repair. In addition, the chemical industry is a key provider of materials and technologies that form the basis for many ICT and digital solutions.

Smart Chemical Processes
Within the total chemical industry value chain from product design to delivery to the customer, ICT plays a key role. ICT is key to a successful, efficient and competitive industry.

As chemical products, process and plants become ever more complex and resource usage and performance requirements become tougher, ICT can deliver a large portion of the innovation needed to keep the European chemical industry competitive on the global stage.

Process Control is a critical factor for sustainability in the production process. Advanced process methods allow production units to run at optimal operating points under appropriate constraints. Monitoring is a related area of importance for the process industry where improved digital modelling can contribute to increased plant availability, reduced costs and improved product quality.

Modelling for innovation is also a key topic. ICT-enabled innovation can significantly reduce (20-40%) time lines for product and process developments and save costs. Overall ICT technologies can enable increased resource efficiency, will enable new process and product capabilities, and strengthen the chemical industry and European competitiveness.

Smart Materials for smart industry
Sustainable chemistry is all about developing ‘Smart materials’ – materials that will enable the development of important ICT such as nanoelectronics and haptic devices. Sustainable chemistry also provides the specialty polymers and other materials that will be required for new 3D printing technologies to produce components with demanding specifications.

Sustainable chemistry is looking to develop polymers that enable nano-structured self-organisation for use as templates to support advanced nano-lithography or other nanoelectronic fabrication techniques for the fast prototyping and production of complex electronic devices. Such advanced fabrication techniques can reduce development time for microelectronic devices and boost the capability and competitiveness of the European ICT sector.

Polymers and polymer-based ink formulations are also essential for printed fabrication techniques, such as roll-to-roll lithography that allow mass production of low-cost microelectronic circuits for a wide range of applications including RFID tags, flexible displays and OLED lighting.

Future chemical developments include improved conductive polymers, piezoelectric and electro-active polymers that can inspire new and emerging end-use applications including wearable electronics.

Additive manufacturing aka 3D printing
3D printing will change the way society manufactures and its development heralds an era of mass-customisation. 3D printing or Additive Manufacturing produces a three-dimensional object from an electronic data set through an additive process making material layers in successive steps under computer control – truly digital manufacturing.

The global market for materials and services for 3D printing (excluding printer equipment) was estimated to be US$ 1.8 billion in 2013 and is projected to grow to US$ 10.8 billion by 2018.

The ability to produce small lot sizes and highly specialised added value products makes 3D printing technology a key technology for the next generation of industry: Industry 4.0. Innovation and pre-industrialisation, competitive small series production, improved time-to-market, custom made parts for personalised products, manufacturing of complex structures and geometries are all drivers for the development of additive manufacturing technologies. 3D printing also contributes to lower energy and resource use.

Polymers with appropriate end-use performances and adapted to specific 3D printing technologies are needed along with suitable metallic or ceramic materials. The European chemical industry already delivers many of these materials, but research is needed to widen the range of materials and mechanical properties of polymers available for 3D printing. Development of new electrically and thermally conductive materials will provide new opportunities for the development of additive manufacturing. Solutions to improve the surface finish of manufactured parts are also required.

Sustainable chemistry is key
Additive manufacturing is a key technology for fostering the European innovation and manufacturing industries. And its full development requires key inputs from sustainable chemistry.

Digital technologies, such as 3D printing technologies, can reduce the gap between innovation and manufacturing, stimulate the renewal of European manufacturing industry and boost industrial research and design opportunities too.

Monday, 23 February 2015

LRI Innovative Science Award Video

A new video captures the importance of the LRI Innovative Science award to early-career scientists. The LRI Innovative Science award, the largest European health and environment research grant award, gives early career scientists complete freedom to develop their breakthrough ideas, find new approaches to tackle risk assessment and help reduce uncertainty in relation to chemicals safety.

In the new video the winners of the 2014 and 2013 LRI award talk about their winning proposals, the potential impact of their research, future plans and overall experience after receiving an LRI grant.

Dr. Alexandra Antunes of the Instituto Superior Técnico, winner of the 2014 LRI award, is investigating a novel way to detect chemically induced cancers and predict the carcinogenic potential of chemicals. Alexandra’s award-winning research idea was also featured on the Horizon 2020 Projects Publication, an online initiative that provides timely and invaluable information regarding the European Commission’s latest and largest ever research and innovation framework programme.

Dr. Sabine Langie of the Flemish Institute for Technological Research, winner of the 2013 LRI award, investigates respiratory allergies in childhood caused by environmental exposure.

More information
To find out more about the LRI Innovative Science award and past winners visit the LRI website. The competition for 2015 is now open and the deadline for applications is 17 March. Find out more, including how to enter the competition here.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Get involved with Innovation Fusion 2015 in Berlin

SusChem invites you to attend the INNOVATION FUSION event and be inspired by Europe’s best industrial innovators! The European Networking Group (ENG) is hosting the 11th annual INNOVATION FUSION event on 21 22 April 2015 in Berlin. The event will bring together leading experts in R&D and Innovation from the specialty chemical and consumer goods sectors. Cefic and SusChem have secured a 20% discount for all its members that wish to attend the conference.

Amongst the leading industry members that will be joining and leading the discussions in Berlin are BASF, DuPont, P&G, AkzoNobel, Evonik and Air Liquide.

By joining the event, you will be able to exchange best practices, engage in real business stories and discover new business models and emerging markets. The event will address a broad range of topics, from incremental and disruptive innovation to KPI’s in the chemical industry and sustainability throughout the value chain.

More information and registration
You can download the event programme here. SusChem members may use the CEFIC20 discount code when registering online or can contact Joanna Serweta at ENG events directly.