Friday, 17 October 2014

Presenting the ICIS Innovation Awards 2014

Today (17 October 2014) the winners of this year’s ICIS Innovation Awards have been announced with Huntsman Textile Effects being chosen as the overall winner for 2014. The judging panel for the 2014 awards included SusChem board member Peter Nagler of Evonik and SusChem coordinator at Cefic: Jacques Kormonicki.

Huntsman’s AVITERA SE poly-reactive dyes for cotton and cotton blends were judged to be a significant scientific advance, and one that goes a long way to answering the textile industry’s sustainability challenge in terms of water, energy and waste reductions. The process cuts water and energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions by 50% and salt consumption by 25%.

The Huntsman entry also won the category for Innovation with the Best Benefit to Environment or Sustainability that is sponsored by U.S. Chemicals, LLC.

In their deliberations the judges were looking for innovations that were at or close to commercialisation and that fulfilled a need or created a new need or market. The innovations also needed to be creative and relevant to the market.

The Awards, sponsored overall by Roland Berger Strategy Consultants and with category sponsorship from U.S. Chemicals, LLC, recognise outstanding technological and business innovation in the global chemical industry.

Warm glow of Innovation
The award for best product innovation went to Solvay, for its Emana polyamide fibres that contains an additive that converts the wearer’s body heat into physiologically beneficial far-infrared radiation. The winning entry, developed in Brazil, was deemed to have a strong scientific element to it and innovative marketing.

Jacques Korminicki of Cefic said: “It looks like a great innovation and a strong marketing opportunity.”

Honeywell UOP, with INEOS and Total, were awarded the best process innovation award for their advanced methanol-to-olefins process. This award category, which was reintroduced to the ICIS awards after a couple of year’s absence, was judged to be very timely with migration of global petrochemical feedstock from naphtha to coal and natural gas.

Finally the best innovation by an SME award was made to Argex Titanium for a novel route to titanium dioxide pigment.

The judging panel also awarded Clariant a special mention in the Best Process Innovation category, for its Heat Generating Material for use in on-purpose olefin production using the Catofin process.

John Baker, ICIS editor and organiser of the Awards, commented that: “This year the Awards attracted a near-record entry, showcasing a wide range of excellent innovation across the chemical sector. All the winners demonstrate not only that innovation is well and truly alive in the chemical industry but that this innovation brings benefits not only to companies and their customers but the environment as well. And it helps the sustainability of the business of chemicals.”

Full descriptions of all the winning entries, and interviews with the sponsors, can be found on the ICIS website and a special ICIS Chemical Business supplement on the awards and the winners can be accessed on-line here.

What are the ICIS awards
The awards are open to any chemical company or collaborative effort between industry and academia anywhere in the World. The judging panel looks for innovative projects that solve problems or provide solutions for the company or its customers or that demonstrate an innovative approach to business, the environment and sustainability.

In 2014 there were four prize categories:

  • Best Product Innovation
  • Best Process Innovation
  • Best Innovation by a Small or Medium-sized Enterprise (SME)
  • Innovation with Best Benefit for the Environment or Sustainability

For more information about the ICIS Chemical Business Innovation Awards or for specific queries contact John Baker at ICIS.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

BIO-TIC looks at CO2 based chemicals

BIO-TIC's second business case workshop took place in Lyon on September 24 as a side event of the Third CO2 Forum conference entitled: ‘Large Volume CO2 Utilization Enabling Technologies for Energy and Resource Efficiency, 3rd Edition, The CO2 Forum, International Sustainable CO2 Chemical and Biochemical Recycling’ organised by CPE Lyon. The objective of the BIO-TIC workshop was to discuss the use of CO2 as a feedstock for Industrial Biotechnology (IB) processes and more specifically to discuss the barriers that hamper the development of IB for CO2 utilization.

The potential to use greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) as a feedstock for producing new materials is a hot topic currently and could help to develop a true circular economy.

To define the opportunities and hurdles in the “CO2 to Chemicals” business case the BIO-TIC workshop explored the role of industrial biotechnology in:

  • Direct production of chemicals through the transformation of CO2
  • “Artificial leaves”, using CO2, water, sunlight and a (semiconductor) catalyst to produce glucose as a feedstock for industrial biotechnological processes to produce chemicals

Hurdles identified
The delegates, from both academic and industrial backgrounds, identified the main hurdles for CO2 bioconversion technologies and sketched out a set of recommendations and concrete actions to overcome these hurdles. Participants also stressed the need for a close collaboration between IB experts, the chemical industry and the owners of CO2 sources, since CO2 bioconversion will require some level of customization such as tuning the IB processes to match the characteristics of different CO2 emission sources.

Overall the discussions with participants provided the BIO-TIC project partners with additional, focused input for the next and final version of the roadmap on Industrial Biotechnology, to be released at the end of the project in July 2015.

“Although there are already a few concrete projects, such as the fermentation of syngas, the general view of participants was that CO2 Bioconversion technologies could become viable in the 2020-2030 timeframe,” commented Pierre Barthelemy, Research and Innovation Manager at Cefic. “The most advanced process, including artificial photosynthesis, will require more time to become significant and could only play a role after 2030.”

What is BIO-TIC? 
Funded by the European Commission, BIO-TIC was launched, as an FP7 project, with the aim to establish an overview of the opportunities and barriers to biotechnology innovation and propose approaches to address them.

Modern use of industrial biotechnology is critical in a bio-based economy. Deploying the full potential of biotech innovation will enable European industry to deliver high-value products to consumers and create new commercial opportunities. New feedstock demands will lead to synergies amongst SMEs and large industrial partners. New technological developments will boost European export of technology and facilities by bringing some of Europe’s top sectors together: chemical industry, engineering and renewables.

However to date, major hurdles continue to hamper the full exploitation of biotechnology in Europe. These hurdles may vary from technological bottlenecks to limited availability of venture capital and fragmented policy frameworks.

BIO-TIC seeks to define product segments and applications that promise significant potential for Europe’s industry and society by 2030. Five major “bio-business cases” have been identified that are EU-competitive and have the potential to introduce cross-cutting technology ideas. The event in Lyon was the second in a series of five workshops looking at these identified product segments and applications.

Based on these business cases, BIO-TIC will develop three in-depth “bio-roadmaps”. These focus on the market potential, R&D priorities and non-technological hurdles of IB innovation. In particular, the market roadmap will provide market projections up to 2030. The technology roadmap will focus on setting R&D priorities and identifying needs for pilot and demonstration of plant activities. And, last but not least, the non-technological barriers roadmap will identify regulatory and non-technological hurdles that may inhibit industrial biotech innovation reaching new market opportunities. The second draft version of the roadmaps is already online while the final version will be released in July 2015.

All the BIO-TIC roadmaps can be downloaded from the BIO-TIC Partnering Platform. You can find more information on the BIO-TIC FP7 project here.

MatVal: Concrete Actions from Closing Conference

On 30 September 2014 the MatVal FP7 project held its closing conference as part of the major European Commission LETS 2014 event in Bologna, Italy. The conference brought together policymakers, R&D experts, material manufacturers and end users under a unifying theme - 'Shaping the future of Europe’s Materials research and innovation through a value chain approach' - to explore how materials R&D in Europe can be more innovation focus, be clustered along the value chain and create strong partnerships in the overall European materials community.

Materials research and innovation is a technology area that affects almost every industrial sector. Starting in 2012, MatVal (a value chain approach to materials research & innovation) has worked to identify the success and failure factors in this area. This two-year FP7 project was initiated by the Alliance for Materials (A4M) that brings together major European Technology Platforms (industry-led) and materials research societies (Academia-led) involved in materials research and innovation activities in Europe.

Working initially with the technology platform’s roadmaps and the materials research agendas of different industry sectors it was clear that the value-chain concept was widely recognised and used and the integration of the manufacturing aspects for a material has to be an integral part of any materials research agenda. Other factors identified included the importance of regulations, the need for coherent long-term visions and road-maps (technology planning), and the rising importance of recycling issues.

The project has identified a number of key findings in materials research for innovation including some issues in the working relationships between industry and academia and how to resolve them. Aspects of public funding for materials research and innovation have also been identified; in particular the need for continuity of funding of projects. In addition there is a need to establish a ‘common house’ to continue the work of MatVal in facilitating interaction between industry and the materials research community in Europe.

Speaking at the conference, MatVal project co-ordinator Dr Marco Falzetti (above), Manager of EU Research Affairs at Centro Sviluppo Materiali, said: “this conference is the public closure event of the MatVal project and a crucial moment to discuss the achievements and the future actions needed to ensure the continuity of the groundwork laid for the construction of a unified policy on Materials R&D as real enabler of the European industrial renaissance, through its promotion of jobs, growth and competitiveness.”

Opening the conference Clara de la Torre (above) Director of Key Enabling Technologies (KETs) at the European Commission's DG Research and Innovation said that: "Advanced materials was one of the six key enabling technologies supported and promoted by the Commission that were essential for competitiveness and growth." She looked forward to MatVal's conclusions to reduce fragmentation of European research efforts and reduce resource waste and its suggestions for prioritisation of future projects.

Main findings
The main findings from the project were presented by Michal Basista (research aspects), Lutz Walter (innovation aspects) and SusChem co-ordinator Jacques Komornicki (the Strategic Report document).

One of the key findings in materials research for innovation relate to issues in the working relationships between industry and academia and how to resolve them. Aspects of public funding for materials research and innovation have also been identified - in particular the need for continuity of funding of projects. These findings support the need to establish a ‘common house’ to continue the work of MatVal in facilitating interaction between industry and the materials research community in Europe. A follow-on project is being formulated.

On the innovation side, it is recommended that high tech materials be supported through public funding on a continuous base – this is pulled directly by high-tech markets with an immediate need of these materials (e.g. aerospace) with the vision that other markets will benefit from these materials at a later stage. This can be facilitated by some efficient technology transfer structures.

For smart materials market needs, performance/cost ratios and time-to market are key success factors with strong collaboration within the value-chain vital. Manufacturing aspects are very important and public-private partnerships oriented towards value-chain innovation can offer good support.

The event was rounded up with a panel discussion moderated by SusChem Blog Editor Tim Reynolds involving Gernot Klotz of Cefic and SusChem, Fabrice Stassin of EMRI, Matteo Santin, President of the European Society for Biomaterials, Mike Clinch of LUXFER cylinders and Jean-Pierre Birat, General Secretary of the European Steel Technology Platform (ESTEP).

A comprehensive conclusions report from the project of the project will be published in the near future and will shape future European initiatives in materials research and innovation – a key enabler for sustainable competitive growth. For more information, please visit the MatVal website.

LETS contributions
SusChem and SPIRE were also featured in the main LETS (Leading Enabling Technologies for Societal Challenges) conference programme in Bologna.

Loredana Ghinea (above), executive director of A.SPIRE the industry body supporting the SPIRE PPP, spoke about this cross-sectorial initiative for resource and energy efficiency in the session on 'New industrial networks based on cross-cutting technologies.'

While Gernot Klotz (above, right) of SusChem made a number of contributions in his role as Chairman of the Horizon 2020 Advisory Group for Nanotechnologies, Advanced Materials, Biotechnology and Advanced Manufacturing and Processing (NMBP) including the session entitled on 'From science to market through FET (Future and Emerging Technologies), KET and more.'

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Presenting at SPIRE PPP InfoDays on 21 October?

The SPIRE PPP will be featured at the Horizon 2020 Information Days on Public-Private Partnerships taking place in Brussels on 21 October. And you have just a few days left if you want to reserve your place to make a presentation during the related brokerage sessions for the 2015 calls.

The four research public-private partnerships launched in the framework of Horizon 2020 - Sustainable Process Industry, Green Vehicles, Factories of the Future and Energy-efficient Buildings - will be the main features during the European Commission Information Day on Tuesday 21 October 2014. The aim of the event is to give the research community an overview of ongoing activities in the PPPs under Horizon 2020, and to support the preparation of proposals for the upcoming 2015 calls.

To register for the event use the registration form on the European Commission website. But hurry as places are being allocated on a first-come first-served basis and all participants will need to register. Don’t expect to turn up on the day and get in!

SPIRE session and brokerage
A specific session dedicated to the SPIRE PPP will take place during the afternoon of 21 October in the Charlemagne building from 13.30 to 15.30 and will be followed by a brokerage and networking event from 15.30 to 17.30 during which interested stakeholders will have the opportunity to present their project ideas for the 2015 SPIRE calls and meet potential partners. The full Info-Day programme can be accessed here.

If you are interested in presenting a project idea during the brokerage session, contact Valeria Lautizi in the SPIRE secretariat with your name, the name of your company or organisation, the title of your project and the reference of the Horizon call topic addressed.

You can find more information on the 2015 calls for SPIRE under Horizon 2020 here.

To be sure of a place you must contact Valeria by the end of business on Monday, October 13. If successful in gaining a place to present you will be provided with a SPIRE Powerpoint template to organise your presentation on the day. See you there!

Should you need any further information, please do not hesitate to contact the SPIRE secretariat.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

BIO-TIC Workshops: Building blocks, Biofuels and Bioplastics

Three Bio-Business workshops are being organised by SusChem’s FP7 BIO-TIC project during Q4 2014. The workshops will help shape BIO-TIC’s strategic agenda to boost the uptake of industrial biotechnology (IB) in Europe. The workshops cover three major IB product segments that promise significant potential for Europe’s industry and society: Chemical Building Blocks, Biofuels and Bioplastics.

Building blocks
The first workshop takes place on 1 October in Reims, France as part of the major IB event: the European Forum for Industrial Biotechnology and the Biobased Economy (EFIB 2014). Its title is: "Chemical Building Blocks – What do we need to do to build sustainable foundations for the bio-based chemical industry in Europe?

“The objective of this workshop is to collect input from stakeholders interested in chemical building blocks, discuss the main hurdles that impact the use of IB in this market segment and develop concrete actions to mitigate these hurdles,” says Pierre Barthélemy, Innovation Manager at Cefic. “The information collected during this and the other workshops will be included in the final version of the BIO-TIC roadmap that will be published in mid-2015.”

The second workshop is organised in London on 23 October and covers "Advanced Biofuels – Fuelling the Industry in Europe." Although at present the production of advanced biofuels world-wide is still quite low, various policy drivers both in the EU and elsewhere provide a significant incentive for their future development. However, many hurdles exist to the full exploitation of advanced biofuels production in the EU.

The outputs of this workshop will be used in the development of a roadmap to identify research and innovation funding priorities within the EU and will help shape the EU research and innovation agenda to 2030.

You can download a flyer for this workshop here.

Finally a workshop entitled "Bio-based Plastics – How do we grow the EU Industry?” will be held on 1 December in Brussels. Today, bio-based plastics have an established market, demonstrating rapid growth both in Europe and globally. While Europe is currently the largest producer and user of bio-based plastics, this situation is expected to change in the future with production increasingly being based in countries where feedstocks are cheaper and where production costs are lower. Even with increasing fossil fuel prices expected to make bio-based plastics more competitive compared to fossil-derived plastics, ensuring the cost-competitiveness of EU bio-based plastics production compared to other regions globally is expected to become an increasingly difficult challenge.

“Stakeholders interested in bioplastics will have the opportunity to discuss the main hurdles that impact the use of industrial biotechnology in the bioplastics market segment and propose concrete actions to overcome these hurdles,” explains Pierre Barthélemy.

Registration for all the workshops is now open and can be accessed via a dedicated website.

With these workshops and two previous events, the BIO-TIC project consortium aims to bring together industrial biotechnology end users (downstream) with technology providers (upstream), innovation agencies and decision makers to stimulate interconnected discussion and knowledge exchange platforms and processes.

The objectives of all the workshops are to:

  • identify technological, non-technological and market hurdles for the uptake of industrial biotechnology in these sectors, 
  • develop recommendations and solutions to overcome the identified hurdles, 
  • contribute to the development, testing and fine-tuning of the BIO-TIC roadmaps,
  • bring together industrial biotechnology end users (downstream) with technology providers (upstream), innovation agencies and decision makers to stimulate interconnected discussion and knowledge exchange platforms and processes,
  • collect data to develop draft indicators to measure the socio-economic and environmental impact of IB and the use of renewables-based products in the European Union.

More information
Input from the market and experts in industry and research are critical to build a basis for the BIO-TIC roadmaps and to ensure that actions are developed which best fit the needs of this sector. SusChem, Cefic, EuropaBio and all the BIO-TIC partners welcome any comments on the current draft documents. You can submit comments via email.  

For more information on the BIO-TIC project and the business-case workshops visit the project website or contact Pierre Barthélemy, Innovation Manager at Cefic.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

SusChem at Expoquimia 2014!

Barcelona will be hosting the seventeenth Expoquimia International Chemical Show from 30 September until 3 October and both SusChem Europe and SusChem Espana are organizing activities throughout the conference and exhibition.

On 30 September SusChem Spain will hold its annual General Assembly. Among the topics to be discussed are the use of CO2 as a raw material for the chemical industry, process intensification and the added value that the SusChem network brings to the industry, the wider chemical and process community and society as a whole. In the evening, there will also be a session dedicated to new opportunities to finance research and innovation activities including combining funds for maximum effect.

October 1 sees a session entitled ‘Smart cities: Chemicals inside’. The meeting will be chaired by Prof. Carlos Negro, President of the forum “Chemistry and Society” and will include presentations by Elisa Martin Garijo, Director of Innovation and Technology at IBM, and Antonia Morales from Cefic.

SusChem project workshops
Also on 1 October SusChem FP7 project E4Water is hosting a workshop on ‘Industrial Water Management: New Ways to Improve Efficiency.’ E4Water addresses crucial process industry needs to overcome bottlenecks and barriers for an integrated and energy-efficient water management. Its main objective is to develop, test and validate new integrated approaches for a more efficient and sustainable management of water in the chemical industry, with cross-fertilization possibilities for other industrial sectors.

SusChem Europe and the SPIRE PPP will be presenting on 2 October and SusChem FP7 projects BIO-TIC and R4R (Chemical Regions for Resource Efficiency) will be holding workshops on 3 October. See you there!

Smart Chemistry
Expoquimia takes place at Barcelona's Gran Via Exhibition Centre and will be attended by the leading companies and organizations from the international chemical industry. A major feature of the event is the Smart Chemistry, Smart Future initiative headed by the Spanish Federation of Chemical Industries (FEIQUE) that showcases the sector's capacity to generate wealth and employment and its contribution to improving the well-being of society as a whole.

The Smart Chemistry, Smart Future zone at Expoquimia is based around four main themes where, both now and in the future, the contribution of the chemical sector is absolutely fundamental:
  • Smart Cities (how we can make the cities in which we live more sustainable)
  • Energy & Water (how to improve the management of our natural resources)
  • Life: Health and Food
  • New Technologies4U (new technologies and their impact on our daily lives).
Expoquimia is being held in conjunction with Eurosurfas and Equiplast, two benchmark events in the surface treatments and plastics sectors respectively effectively making Barcelona the industrial and scientific capital of the chemical industry in Spain and southern Europe during the event.

For more information contact the conference organisers.

Innovation in Raw Materials Policies, Technologies and Strategies

The availability of raw materials and their sustainable use is of increasing concern in Europe and globally and is a significant focus for research and innovation activity. Cefic, together with ERRIN and the East & North Finland EU Office, is organising a seminar and brokerage event in Brussels on 22 October at Norway House to discuss and demonstrate how European Regions and the Chemical Industry can work together to address the challenges in this area.

With around 30 million EU jobs depending on the availability of raw materials, there is a need to bring innovation and new ideas into the sector in terms of policy initiatives such as the future Raw Materials Knowledge Innovation Community (KIC), the European Innovation Platform (EIP) on Raw Materials, and the SPIRE (Sustainable Process Industries through Resource and Energy Efficiency) PPP.

The supply and use of our raw materials must be smarter and more sustainable and, with recent increased attention on the concept of a truly circular economy, must be able to keep added value in products for as long as possible and work towards the elimination of waste.

The transition to a more circular economy requires changes throughout our value chains but also regional commitments - many of which are linked to smart specialisation strategies. This workshop will be an opportunity to get an excellent overview of EU policy and industry perspectives and how these perspectives are being implemented at the regional level.

The 22 October workshop will also be an excellent opportunity to network and to find collaborative partners for future Horizon 2020 calls in this topic. Registration is for the workshop is open now!

For more information on the workshop, please contact Antonia Morales at Cefic.

Material partners
In addition to Cefic the workshop is being organised by ERRIN and the East & North Finland EU Office.

Founded in 2001, ERRIN is a Brussels-based platform of Research and Innovation Organisations and Stakeholders based in the European regions. ERRIN aims to strengthen regional Research and Innovation capacities by exchanging information, sharing best practice, supporting European project development, helping to shape policy and raising its profile by working together for a partnership-based approach. ERRIN helps regions get their voice heard in Brussels!

The East & North Finland EU Office represents several regions of Finland in Brussels with a focus on regional policy, research, development and innovation policies, transport and energy policies, external relations, demographic challenges, industrial policies and international co-operation between the regions.