Thursday, 23 May 2019

'Towards a New SusChem SIRA' Workshop

SusChem stakeholders met on 16 and 17 May in Brussels to work on the next SusChem Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda (SIRA), reflecting on the new opportunities and challenges to be faced in the next European research and innovation framework programme: Horizon Europe. This SusChem SIRA-dedicated workshop brought together members of the SusChem Board, the SusChem NTPs and experts from across Industry, Academia and SMEs, to finalise the technology content of the SusChem SIRA. The SusChem community continued a process that was initiated at theSusChem Stakeholders 2018 meeting, followed by nominations of experts and two consultation rounds. The communication of the new SusChem SIRA is expected at the upcoming 2019 SusChem Stakeholder meeting on 27 November 2019.

SusChem has been working on identifying technology priorities along its three main technology pillars: Advanced Materials, Advanced Processes and enabling Digital technologies. The ‘Towards a New SusChem SIRA’ workshop was a follow up to prior consultation rounds that were initiated after the SusChem2018 Stakeholders meeting. The new SIRA will reflect on the overall strategy and role of Sustainable Chemistry and Industrial Biotechnology in boosting innovation in Europe and tackling global challenges, in the context of Horizon Europe.

On day one, participants focused on four cross-cutting topics of high relevance for SusChem: 'Circular Economy', 'Process Intensification', 'Sustainability Assessment Innovation', and 'Safe -by-design innovation'.

Delegates joined roundtable discussions, moderated by experts, focussing on a specific sub-topic within one of the four areas and considered the current state-of the-art and grand challenges. From that analysis they then selected key priority areas for research and innovation in the timeframe of Horizon Europe. A key output was the likely impact of research and innovation. Horizontal impacts and requirements, such as education and training, were also discussed.

For the Process Intensification session, the sub-topics were: reaction engineering, digitalisation, electrification, modularisation, and materials. In the Safe-by-Design session research and innovation themes relevant to process and materials innovation as well as methodologies towards improved safety and sustainability were discussed. The Circular Economy session looked at biomass valorisation, CO2 valorisation, waste valorisation, circularity-by-design and water circularity. Finally, the Sustainability Assessment Innovation session discussed methodologies, data, tools and uptake issues to ensure the measurable and sustainable impact of the developed technologies.

SusChem key enabling technologies in Horizon Europe
The second day of the workshop began with a summary of the outcomes of day one, followed by a panel discussion on strategic research priorities for Sustainable Chemistry and Industrial Biotechnology in the context of the transition to Horizon Europe.

Contributions were made by SusChem board members Dr. Jens Rieger of BASF, Dr. François Monnet from Solvay, Dr. Deirdre Black of the Royal Society of Chemistry and Dr. Fernando Moreno of Solutex, with Jürgen Tiedje representing the European Commission DG Research & Innovation. The panel debate was moderated by Dr. Pierre Barthélemy of Cefic and also a member of the SusChem Board.

Jürgen Tiedje opened the discussion with an update on Horizon Europe. He noted that there was a basic agreement between the Commission, Member States and the European Parliament on the framework programme, although the budget is still to be finalised. The Commission is moving ahead with implementation to ensure calls would be available in 2021.

He described the changes in areas relevant to industry in Horizon Europe as “not a revolution, but a big change nonetheless” and he emphasised the need to highlight the impact of any proposed research and innovation calls. In June the Commission will publish strategic plans describing “what do we want to achieve” in Horizon Europe, again with a clear emphasis on increasing impact. A widespread consultation on the document will follow and the plan will be discussed at and finalised after the next EU Research and Innovation Days on 24-26 September 2019. He also noted that the Commission has just published a call for experts to join the new Horizon Europe Mission boards and invited SusChem stakeholders to be involved in all the above-mentioned steps of stakeholder consultation. In general, he thought that the outcome of the SIRA workshop would be an excellent basis for SusChem input to the Horizon Europe debate.

The panel discussed the significant impact of SusChem and the previous SusChem SIRA under Horizon 2020, and how this raised the platform’s ambition for Horizon Europe. The SusChem Board highlighted how this could be achieved through SusChem’s considerable experience as a multi-stakeholder platform and an advisory forum on technology priorities to address EU challenges.

The panel discussion ranged across the role of the European Research Council in the programme, how to support SMEs’ involvement and the role of the SusChem NTPs in achieving this, and Horizon Europe’s aim to provide new open infrastructure such as facilities for innovation testing and demonstration.

The SusChem Board members highlighted the need to make the best use of the collaborative synergies and experience established by SusChem that could be very useful in achieving, for example, a true Circular Economy faster. They also emphasised how both vertical and horizontal technologies will contribute to achieving high-impact goals with digital technology being both enabling and transformative.

Jürgen Tiedje reminded the audience that the last work programme for Horizon 2020 would be published soon and would feature a wide-ranging call on circular economy topics which would emphasise inter-topic connection. “It is important to start to look beyond individual topics to leverage impact,” he concluded.

The final working session was devoted to three parallel sessions in which participants considered gaps and prioritisation for research and innovation topics under the three SusChem technology pillars: Advanced Materials, Advanced Processes and enabling Digital Technologies.

Over the two days of the workshop a considerable number of ideas and initiatives were discussed and captured. Existing input from expert groups and the wider consultation process were reviewed and validated and technology gaps were identified with relevant input suggested. All-in-all an excellent basis for refining and completing the revised SIRA.

Next steps?
SusChem Manager, Dr. Vivi Filippousi from Cefic, thanked all participants and the SusChem team for their hard work and significant contributions to the formulation of the new SIRA and outlined the process going forward.

The input from the SusChem SIRA workshop will be analysed and incorporated in the earlier consultation input. As of June, the technology priorities will be structured into SIRA chapters that will relate to the structure of Horizon Europe (clusters and intervention areas). Targeted involvement of SusChem experts will be used to build the SIRA chapters. Once a full draft is assembled, the text will be reviewed by the SusChem Board and the SusChem NTPs for approval before sharing with all contributors for acknowledgement of the document by their organisation.

An expected communication of the new SusChem SIRA towards Horizon Europe (2021-2027) will take place at the 2019 SusChem Stakeholders meeting on 27 November 2019. Save the date now – and see you there!

You can access a photo gallery with images from the workshop event here.

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

A New Circular Economy Concept for Textiles and Chemicals

The RESYNTEX conference in Brussels on 24 April 2019 marked the final phase of this exciting project. RESYNTEX was funded by the European Commission’s HORIZON 2020 Programme via a SPIRE Public Private Partnership call and started in June 2015 to create a new circular economy concept for the textile and chemical industries. Cefic is one of 20 partners involved in the project, which represented 10 different EU member states.

Major technological advances were achieved, one being the construction of a pilot installation in Slovenia. This site will demonstrate the whole symbiosis concept of RESYNTEX in an industrial environment with full integration of the sorting, pre-treatment, chemical and enzymatic processes, as well as liquid and solid waste treatment and water recycling.

With this installation, the RESYNTEX project moved into the real-world testing of its technology for chemical and biotechnological recycling of textile waste. To achieve large-scale industrial application, significant further technology development work is necessary and must be accompanied by smart regulatory and economic incentives.
 
The project may be coming to an end, but the project partners see plenty of opportunities to work towards a circular and low carbon economy with a key role for innovative chemical and biotechnological recycling technologies. Although fundamentally understood, such technologies are currently under-deployed for plastics circularity.  Further innovation, scale-up to demonstration, adoption of policies, and establishment of recycling-chains are needed to establish clear pathways for full-scale implementation to valorise post-use waste currently shipped, burnt or disposed of in landfill.

More information at www.resyntex.eu.

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Help shape the next SusChem SIRA

Do you want to help shape the next SusChem Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda (SIRA)? Then you need to register for the SusChem Workshop ‘Towards a New SusChem SIRA’, which will take place on 16 and 17 May 2019 at Hotel Le Plaza in Brussels, Belgium.


The May event will bring together members of the SusChem Board, the SusChem National Technology Platforms (NTPs) and Research and Innovation experts in a two-day working meeting to help finalise the revised SusChem SIRA that will feed into future technology road maps and calls under the next European Commission Framework Programme (Horizon Europe) and other European innovation initiatives.. 

The participation and contribution of as many SusChem Stakeholders as possible is crucial to ensuring the right priorities and topics are included in the revised SusChem SIRA. 

Sessions and key topics 
On 16 May, four sessions, with a number of round table discussions, will focus on cross-fertilisation topics, helping to define strategic priorities for future sustainable research and innovation activities in chemical sciences. 

The four sessions are: 
  • Process Intensification. Sub-topics: reaction engineering, digitalisation, electrification, modularisation, and materials;
  • Safe-chemicals-by-design. Sub-topics: R&I themes relevant to process and materials innovation as well as methodologies towards improved safety and sustainability;
  • Circular Economy. Sub-topics: biomass valorisation, CO2 valorisation, waste valorisation, circularity-by-design and water circularity); and
  • Sustainability Assessment. Sub-topics: methodologies, data, tools and uptake. 
On the second day, 17 May, the event will feature the conclusions on high-level priorities from Day 1, followed by a panel discussion on ‘Strategic Research priorities on Sustainable Chemistry and Industrial Biotech’, between SusChem Board members and European Commission representatives from the Directorate-General for Research & Innovation (DG RTD).

Three parallel sessions will follow to fill remaining gaps for specific technology priorities under Advanced Materials, Advanced Processes and enabling Digital Technologies, accounting for their contribution to Horizon Europe challenges and intervention areas.


We look forward to seeing you in Brussels on 16 and 17 May!

Friday, 12 April 2019

EuropaBio seeks Europe’s most innovative Biotech SMEs


SusChem founding partner, EuropaBio is inviting biotech start-ups and SMEs from across Europe to apply for the 10th edition of the Most Innovative European Biotech SME Award. This is a unique annual initiative recognising biotech innovation and its contribution to society. SMEs can apply in three categories: healthcare, agricultural or industrial biotechnology. The awards have become one of the highlights of the European biotech calendar, with over 250 SMEs competing since they were started.

The European Commission considers, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to be the backbone of Europe's economy. They represent 90% of all businesses in the EU. Peter Heinrich, Chair of EuropaBio’s SME Platform highlights: “The majority of the most valuable innovation happens in SMEs, which then go on to form relationships with larger companies, paving the way for improved health, cleaner energy and better environment, for products and processes as well as a sustainable farming for Europe’s societies.”

Biotechnology exemplifies the way in which science and scientific breakthroughs can be applied to respond to some of society’s most difficult challenges. From new therapies that can address unmet medical needs, to industrial processes that use resources more efficiently, to drought-resistant crops that allow farmers to feed a growing population in unpredictable climatic conditions, biotechnology pays economic, societal and environmental dividends.

Tjerk de Ruiter, EuropaBio’s Chair and CEO of Corbion, comments: “The diversity and quality of applications received in previous years demonstrate the entrepreneurial excellence of EU biotech SMEs. They are at the forefront of some critical innovation and are delivering solutions under challenging circumstances. Through these awards we recognise the vital breakthroughs they are making.”

How to enter
Applications for the awards must be submitted online at the dedicated awards website by the end of Sunday 15 September 2019. Two companies will be shortlisted in each of the three categories (healthcare, agricultural or industrial biotechnology) by a Jury of biotech and SME experts, with the winners celebrated during a landmark event to be held in Brussels on 6 November 2019. Each category winner will also receive EUR 10 000 prize money and two years free EuropaBio membership, in addition to European-level exposure and publicity.

The jury experts are all involved in biotech and understand the science, the funding realities and the regulatory and political frameworks in which European biotech SMEs must operate. They appreciate the contribution that innovative SMEs will make to Europe’s future, and together, they will carefully analyse each application to select the final nominees. The award winners from the 2018 competition are pictured below.


To be eligible for an award, participating companies must qualify as an SME under the standard EU SME definition (i.e. primary location of operations within Europe, 250 or less employees, EUR 50 million or less annual turnover).

More information
For more information on the awards including full terms and conditions and success stories from winners of previous awards, please visit the awards website.

The BioBase4SME Network

The BioBase4SME network represents a group of leading biobased economy experts and advises SMEs from across North-West Europe on how to develop new ideas into marketable products. The BioBase4SME project can help Start-ups and SMEs to overcome technological and non-technological barriers to bring their bioeconomy innovations to market.

The bioeconomy represents a massive opportunity for Europe. Locally produced biobased feedstocks rather than imported fossil resources can be used to produce materials, chemicals, energy and more, creating a new knowledge and technology intensive economy with high employment potential and with reduced environmental impact.

The BioBase4SME project expects to bring at least 20 promising innovations closer to the market, resulting in new investments and job creation, and provide training to about 200 entrepreneurs active in the biobased economy, thus boosting their innovation capacity. Other principle outputs are a strong, interregional network to guide entrepreneurs towards successful innovation, improved regional support for the bioeconomy in terms of innovation and investment climate, legal framework and public approval.”

Bio-Innovation
The BioBase4SME project can provide ‘bio-innovation’ support to entrepreneurs throughout regions in north-west Europe. This support can include:
  • Free workshops and professional training
  • Innovation Biocamps
  • Innovation vouchers worth up to EUR 100 000.

The support available through the Innovation voucher system can include:
  • Technical assistance such as support for scale-up to pilot scale
  • Life Cycle Assessment
  • Techno-economic evaluations
  • Market research
  • Feedstock analysis
  • Social acceptance studies
  • Business planning and business plan support

The partners involved in the BioBase4SME project include AC3A (France), Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant (Belgium), CLIB2021 (Germany), the Flanders BioBased Valley (Belgium), MateriaNova (Belgium), the NNFCC (UK), REWIN (NL), TCBB Resource (Ireland), and the University of York (UK).

INTERREG NWE
BioBase4SME is supported by INTERREG North-West Europe (NWE), a European Territorial Cooperation Programme funded by the European Commission through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

The programme has the ambition to make the North-West Europe area a key economic player and an attractive place to work and live, with high levels of innovation, sustainability and cohesion. It invests EUR 370 million of ERDF money in activities based on the cooperation of organisations from eight countries: Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.


Thursday, 11 April 2019

BBI JU 2019 Call now open


The BioBased Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU) has published its 2019 Call for proposals under Horizon 2020. This sixth call will provide a further EUR 135 million of funding to boost the development of the EU’s biobased industries sector. The call is built around four strategic orientations: Feedstock, Process, Products, and Market uptake and continues the BBI JU’s objective of accelerating the development of new sustainable value chains from biomass feedstock supply via efficient processing, to the acceptance and application of bio-based products in end-markets.

The 2019 call identifier is H2020-BBI-JTI-2019 and contains 21 topic areas previously outlined in the BBI JU Annual Work Plan 2019. This document gives the full texts of the call that include 10 Research and Innovation Actions (RIAs), 7 Innovation Actions (IAs) - specifically 4 Demonstration (DEMO) calls and 4 Flagship (FLAG) calls - and 4 Coordination and Support Actions (CSAs) under the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme.

The deadline for submission of proposals is 4 September 2019, 17:00 CET, with proposal evaluations taking place during October and November and results being sent to applicants hopefully during December 2019.

Proposals to the Call 2019 can be submitted through the Funding and Tender Opportunities Portal - SEDIA (former known as the Participant Portal), the official EU funding communication channel, that gives an extensive overview of all Call information, such as Call documentation, how to get support regarding intellectual property, IT, and partner searches etc.

Via the BBI JU’s Partnering Platform, potential participants and consortia members can create  free, online profiles that enable a better interaction with other potential BBI JU Call applicants.
Applicants interested in receiving professional support or advice at the national level can get in contact with the appropriate member of the BBI network of National Contact Points.

BBI Info Day
On 12 April the BBI JU Info Day 2019 is taking place in the Charlemagne Building, Brussels. Plenary presentations on Europe's biobased sector and the development of the global bioeconomy will be followed by an outline of the BBI JU 2019 Work Programme from Philippe Mengal, Executive Director of the BBI JU. Information will be provided about the BBI JU initiative and all other aspects of the 2019 Call process including details of the proposal submission and evaluation processes.

After lunch, the BBI JU Networking event, will help participants to build their networks and find potential partners for the BBI JU Call for proposals.

And throughout the day, participants will have the opportunity to speak to representatives from BBI JU's founding partners and Member States as well as exchange views with entities in synergy with the BBI JU, including SusChem. The BBI JU's Programme Office staff will also be available to answer questions about the Call process and procedure.

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

SusChem and ISC3 sign MoU to advance Sustainable Chemistry

The European Technology Platform for Sustainable Chemistry (SusChem) and the International Sustainable Chemistry Collaborative Centre (ISC3) signed a new cooperation agreement to foster their common mission of advancing Sustainable Chemistry at a European and global level at the recent SusChem board meeting on 14 March 2019 in Brussels.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) outlines the role of each organisation and proposes long-term collaboration in the following areas: research agenda development, fostering breakthrough Innovation, education & skills development and stakeholder dialogues on Sustainable Chemistry. Through this agreement, both parties aim to maximise the impact of relevant activities, build on synergies and complementarities, and create added value for their members.


Markus Steilemann, Chairman of the SusChem board (pictured above, left), said:
“The memorandum reflects the commitment of both sides to work together towards advancing sustainable chemistry innovation to address EU and global challenges. In the course of 2019, we look forward to collaborating on the new SusChem Strategic Research and Innovation agenda (SIRA), and on the ISC3-led ‘Global understanding of Sustainable Chemistry’ consultation. Here,  SusChem brings in the European perspective sharing the benefits of our SusChem network of National Technology platforms.”
Friedrich Barth, Managing Director of ISC3 (pictured above, right), said:
“We join forces with SusChem to promote sustainable innovation in the chemical sector, leveraging a multi-stakeholder approach that involves Academia, SMEs, start-ups, the large Industry and society. Working with SusChem means having on board such a European forum, building on existing knowledge and advancing Sustainable Chemistry, not only at a European level but at a global scale, which is our main mission.” 
A key 2019 priority of this agreement is the bilateral input on Research Agendas. 

The new SusChem Strategic Research and Innovation agenda (SIRA), is currently being revised and will be structured in line with the next EU research and innovation framework programme: Horizon Europe (HEU). The SusChem SIRA will also address the impact of Sustainable Chemistry on global challenges, as part of HEU, and therefore the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). ISC3 will provide input on all relevant technology priorities, and the potential impact of such innovation in Sustainable Chemistry with regards to global challenges. ISC3 will also provide key input on priorities under education and skills, a horizontal topic that will be covered in the new SusChem SIRA.

SusChem will provide input to the ISC3-led ‘Global understanding in Sustainable Chemistry’ consultation with a strong focus on Europe. SusChem will also involve the SusChem NTP network (17 countries) to provide a national perspective.

About SusChem
SusChem ETP, founded in 2004, is a European Technology Platform, with the main objective of contributing to revitalising research & innovation in Sustainable Chemistry and Industrial Biotechnology in Europe. As a multi-stakeholders networking forum and a technology solutions provider, SusChem works towards advising on technology priorities, at a European level, with a long-term strategic research and innovation agenda (SIRA). Connection to National priorities is achieved via its network of  National Technology platforms. SusChem engages, consults and brings together representatives from larger Industry, SMEs, Universities and research technology organisations – being open to the wider society. SusChem technology focus areas include:  Advanced Materials, Advanced Processes, Catalysis, enabling Digital technologies as well as Horizontal topics.

About ISC3
ISC3, founded in 2017, was established by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) and the German Environment Agency (UBA). ISC3 has a structure supported by a Research & Education Hub (Leuphana University, Lüneburg) and an Innovation Hub (DECHEMA, Frankfurt) with the aim to also establish regional hubs outside of Europe. It is a globally acting institution, a multi-stakeholder platform and think tank that engages with the private sector, civil society and politics to contribute to international chemicals policies and the formation of a global network for collaboration, innovation and education on Sustainable Chemistry. Activities to achieve such objectives are: dialogues amongst stakeholders, building on a global start-up service and funding, developing a Sustainable Chemistry curriculum, and also working towards a research agenda outlining a common understanding on Sustainable Chemistry, sustainability assessment and cross-sectorial topics.

Both platforms share the intent of contributing to a more sustainable world and a circular economy, and to the transformation of the chemical sector towards sustainable chemistry, responding to global challenges.