Thursday, 22 February 2018

The PHOENIX Initiative rises!

Today (22 February 2018) PHEONIX, a European initiative linking national and European Research, Development and Innovation (RD&I) activities on CO2 valorisation, was launched at the EU INDUSTRY Days 2018 in Brussels. The initiative is a collaborative effort supported by EU Member States (France, Germany and the Netherlands) and the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic). PHOENIX will function as an umbrella organisation linking RD&I efforts in this area to ensure an optimal use of public funding and private investment. PHOENIX will interact with all relevant stakeholders from industry through research institutions to national governments and the European Commission.

The PHEONIX initiative was launched at a dedicated workshop at the EU INDUSTRY Days 2018. The workshop was opened by Jürgen Tiedje from European Commission DG Research & Innovation. Dr. Helmut Löwe of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) gave an overview of the objectives of the PHOENIX Initiative and the coming steps. The launch was supported by five short talks from industry speakers providing case studies from all core countries of the initiative and application fields of CO2valorisation.

The talks covered mineralisation of CO2 in the cement industry, biological valorisation of CO2, CO2 for energy storage, CO2 to chemicals, and cross-sectorial approaches.

Finally, a lively panel discussion, moderated by Dr. Pierre Barthélemy involving members of the European Commission, the Phoenix initiative and representatives of the various industry sectors concluded the successful launch event.

What is PHEONIX about?
PHOENIX’s ambition is to build the future of CO2 valorisation on a European scale, collaborating across national borders. PHOENIX will strive for joint progress, while recognising that policies will vary from country to country or region to region. In striving for progress, PHOENIX will make optimal use of national, regional and European instruments to achieve significant CO2 valorisation in and from Europe.

The technical scope of the PHOENIX initiative includes five elements that can contribute to a more sustainable production of chemicals, materials, fuels, biomass and can provide means to store renewable energy. Cost-competitive access to CO2 is a cross-cutting element (see below).

Why CO2 valorisation? 
Carbon is a crucial part of a wide variety of products – from food to materials – that are all essential to society. Alternative carbon sources and production pathways need to be considered for more sustainable production in and from Europe. CO2 sources are abundant and available in Europe. Recycling carbon from CO2 for a more sustainable production of chemicals, materials, fuels and biomass needs to be part of our European strategy towards CO2 emission reduction in a future circular economy.

CO2 valorisation can be beneficial for multiple sectors including, chemicals, cement, steel, transport, renewable electricity and horticulture. It can also contribute to Europe’s industrial leadership in clean technologies, stimulate growth and pave the way to a more circular low carbon economy.

The right policy framework
Coherence between the various policies (energy, circular economy, innovation, industry) is essential to enable innovative technologies developed in Europe to contribute fully to a sustainable European economy and address climate protection and resource efficiency issues. This is as true for PHEONIX as any other large-scale innovation initiative.

Policy coherence in content and timing, as well as policy stability over time, is essential to establish a regulatory framework that enables investment in sustainable innovative CO2 valorisation technologies. Uncertainty and extended timelines for policy decisions have negative consequences on the confidence of private and public investments in these new clean technologies. An appropriate, coherent and supportive regulatory framework is an essential element to ensure continuing European leadership towards a low carbon economy including circular concepts.

How can I get involved?
Additional Member States and Horizon 2020 associated countries are invited to join the initiative and interested industry stakeholders are requested join in contributing to the design of PHOENIX as a powerful initiative to support the deployment CO2 valorisation in and from Europe.

For more information, visit the PHEONIX Initiative website.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

EU Industry and RTOs declare Competitiveness as key priority for FP9

In a joint declaration issued today (21 February 2018) key European industrial research and innovation stakeholders, including CEFIC, call on the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union to develop the next EU Research & Innovation Framework Programme (FP9) with an appropriate design and budget that meets the ambitions of the Renewed EU Industrial Policy Strategy.

This second joint declaration by the 25 stakeholders highlights the crucial role of Research, Development and Innovation (RD&I) activities to support and boost industrial leadership that is at the heart of the renewed European Industrial Policy Strategy.

Europe’s future competitiveness and the sustainability of the European social model largely depend on RD&I with two-thirds of economic growth in Europe deriving from RD&I activities and RD&I investments are the key drivers of the technological developments that deliver many impactful innovations for society. However, RD&I intensity is much lower in Europe than in other countries like the US, China, Japan or South Korea. Reaching the EU’s objective of 3% GDP expenditure on R&D will require strong additional spending states the declaration.

Previous declaration
In a previous joint declaration, the stakeholders had called on FP9 to prioritise support to industrial competitiveness from the start to fulfil European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s wish to “make our industry stronger and more competitive” and “help our industries stay or become the world leader in innovation” as stated in his Annual State of the Union speech in September 2017.

This requires an ambitious strategy, taking full advantage of current research successes, understanding emerging risks and opportunities, considering the wider international industrial landscape, and focusing on European added value.

Competitiveness boost
The stakeholders believe that to boost competitiveness by increasing our productivity, the EU needs to anticipate developments in other global regions in key technology areas that form the basis of our society’s future products and services. Accordingly, FP9 design should reflect such priorities and aim to:
  • Maximise the impact of the EU funded RD&I for society, building on Horizon 2020’s efforts.
  • Strengthen European Industries’ capacities to further absorb and scale up novel technologies matured into new products and services and apply them in addressing global challenges. 
  • Strengthen Europe’s capabilities to keep on top of the “innovation race” with third countries to safeguard Europe’s economic growth and employment. 
  • Support European cross-border industry-driven collaborative RD&I in particular the role of public-private partnerships (cPPPs and JTIs) in leveraging private sector investments.
You can read the full declaration here.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

SusChem publishes views on Key Enabling Technologies (KETs) in FP9

In preparation for the next Research and Innovation (R&I) Framework Programme (FP9), the European Technology Platform for Sustainable Chemistry (SusChem) has today (19 February 2018), publishes a new paper outlining its position on what can be achieved by Key Enabling Technologies (KETs).

The paper 'Key Enabling Technologies in FP9' calls for strong support for EU future technology competitiveness and details the major technology developments and initiatives needed to:

  • Create Advanced Materials for use in energy efficiency (e.g., light weight), renewable electricity production and energy storage (e.g., batteries elements), or smart functionalities responding to stimuli (e.g., self repair).
  • Develop Advanced Process Technologies, including Industrial Biotechnology, for more sustainable production including through utilisation of alternative carbon feedstock (waste, biomass, CO2) and alternative energy sources.
  • Leverage Digital Technologies for use in advanced process control and materials modelling, to enable disruptive business models and to create new customer experiences.

The paper calls for on the European Commission to ensure strong support for KETs in the next Framework Funding Programme. You can download and read the paper here.

European Commission publishes its priorities for the EU Budget Post-2020

On 14 February the European Commission published a Communication outlining the various options and their financial consequences for the next long-term EU budget (the Multi-annual Financial Framework or MFF) after 2020. The Communication, entitled ‘A new, modern Multiannual Financial Framework for a European Union that delivers efficiently on its priorities post-2020’, was prepared ahead of an informal meeting of EU Leaders that takes place on 23 February 2018.

The Communication argues that the first step for reforming the EU budget is to define what Europe wants to do together and agree on priorities. Secondly, the EU needs the right instruments to be able to act quickly in response to external developments.

Commenting on the Communication, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: "Budgets are not bookkeeping exercises – they are about priorities and ambition. They translate our future into figures. So, let's first discuss about the Europe we want. Then, Member States must back their ambition up with the money to match. And whilst we all need to understand that business as usual is not an option for this upcoming discussion, I firmly believe that we can square the circle and agree on a budget where everyone will be a net beneficiary.”

The Commission is contributing to the MFF discussion in three ways: First, by providing the necessary facts about the EU budget, its benefits, achievements and added value. Second, by drawing up scenarios which illustrate the financial impact of various possible policy choices. And third, by showing the consequences for students, researchers, infrastructure projects and others should the adoption of the new EU budget be delayed.

EU added value for innovation 
The Communication covers numerous areas of interest to innovation and sustainability and argues that investment is increasingly focused on programmes directly managed at European level and in areas such as research and innovation, trans-European transport and energy networks, mobility programmes for young people and Europe's external action, and that the principle of European added value should shape the future MFF.

Research and innovation and digitisation – clear SusChem priorities - are high on the Commission’s list. The EU currently spends close to EUR 80 billion on the Horizon 2020 programme. The Commission states that maintaining or lowering this budget post 2020 would not address the problem of underfunding, while an increase by 50% to EUR 120 billion would create an estimated 420,000 additional jobs by 2040. Doubling the Framework Programme to EUR 160 billion would create an estimated 650,000 jobs by 2040.

For digitalisation the current EU spend for data infrastructure, connectivity and digital skills is around EUR 35 billion. The Commission notes that maintaining or even lowering current investment levels would risk compromising the EU’s ability to remain competitive while doubling the amounts invested in the digital economy to around EUR 70 billion would deliver strong progress.

Modernisation and financing
The paper also examines how the EU ‘can do more with less’ and sources of finance for the budget.
One option to improve the efficiency and impact of instruments aiming at investment support would be to integrate them into one single investment support instrument. This would further reinforce the European Fund for Strategic Investment and have a positive impact on investment levels, economic growth and employment across the EU. The Commission foresee that wider uptake could more than double the investments mobilised over the next MFF up to EUR two trillion.

Ideas for sources of finance for the MFF include a revamped EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) that could generate revenues up to EUR 105 billion over seven years; access to VAT-based resources, and a Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base.

Other areas covered in the Communication include mobility of young people, specifically the ‘Erasmus+’ programme; Economic and Monetary Union; Cohesion Policy; the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP); external borders and defence.

Next steps
The European Commission will table its formal proposal for the next long-term EU budget in the coming months, at the latest in early May 2018. In the meantime, the Commission will continue listening to all stakeholders, including via the public consultations on the priorities of the EU that were launched in January 2018.

For more detailed information on the MFF process and to access ongoing stakeholder consultations on the shape of the MFF post 2020, please visit the DG Budget website.

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

PHOENIX: A European Integrated Approach to CO2 Valorisation

Join the launch event of the PHEONIX initiative during the EU Industry Days on 22 February at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Brussels. The PHOENIX initiative aims to facilitate the development and deployment of CO2 valorisation technologies at both European and national level. Interested? Register now! Registration will close on 8 February 2018.

Carbon is an essential part of a wide range of products we depend on, including our food, chemicals and materials, and which we currently derive mostly from fossil fuel sources. To ensure more sustainable production in and from Europe, we must consider alternative carbon sources, such as carbon dioxide (CO2).

CO2 is abundant and available in the form of industrial point sources all over Europe. Recycling carbon from CO2 for a more sustainable production of chemicals, materials, fuels and biomass needs to be part of our European strategy towards radically reduced carbon emissions in a more circular economy,” says Sophie Wilmet, Innovation Counsellor at Cefic.

CO2 valorisation can be beneficial for multiple sectors including, chemicals, transport, cement and renewable electricity. It can also contribute to Europe’s industrial leadership in clean technologies, stimulate growth and pave the way to a low carbon economy.

You can read more about chemical valorisation of CO2 in Europe here.

Launching PHOENIX
The PHOENIX initiative will be officially launched on the afternoon of 22 February during the EU Industry Days event in Brussels organised by the European Commission.

During the event, the PHOENIX initiative will be introduced to all interested stakeholders from the private and public sectors in an interactive session. This will include an exchange on the value of an integrated European approach on CO2 valorisation to transform technology developments into real benefits for Europe. In addition, there will be short presentations from industry to showcase the variety of CO2 valorisation projects already ongoing in Europe including mineralization, CO2 to chemicals, CO2 valorisation for renewable energy storage etc.

“The impact of CO2 valorisation in Europe will depend on having ensured support for breakthrough technology development, willingness to share risk and an appropriate sustainability-based policy framework,” concludes Sophie.

Four Members States - France, Germany, The Netherlands and Spain - that have jointly started the PHOENIX initiative in close collaboration with Cefic are inviting other Member States to join and engage their stakeholders.

This interactive stakeholder workshop will be held on 22 February 2018 from 14.30 to 16.00 in Brussels during the EU Industry days Event.

Registration and more information
Registration for the event is open until 8 February. You can register now here and you can obtain more information on the EU Industry Days event here.

EU Industry Day will update stakeholders on the Commission's strategic approach to industrial policy and actions to further develop industrial competitiveness in Europe.

It will also be a forum where stakeholders contributing to European industrial competitiveness can showcase their activities, learn from each other, discuss cross-cutting issues and develop joint visions for the future.

Attendees will come from a variety of industrial sectors, finance, research and innovation, government and public administration.

The main event in Brussels, Belgium on 22-23 of February will be a high-level conference with many key experts and a number of stakeholder workshops including the PHEONIX initiative.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Introducing new SusChem Chair: Dr. Markus Steilemann

The European Technology Platform for Sustainable Chemistry (SusChem) Board has announced that Dr. Markus Steilemann is its new Chair, succeeding Dr. Klaus Sommer who served six years in this position.

Dr. Steilemann (above), who will lead the Board in managing SusChem’s strategy and activities, brings valuable expertise in innovation and management. He is the Chief Commercial Officer of material producer Covestro and - since 2015 - a member of the Covestro Board of Management. His responsibilities encompass all commercial functions, including innovation and the company’s three segments: Polyurethanes, Polycarbonates and Coatings, Adhesives and Specialties.

Dr. Steilemann holds a PhD in Chemistry and started his career at the Bayer Group, where he moved to various management positions at the former Bayer MaterialScience, which has become Covestro in 2015.

SusChem beyond 2020
“I am honoured to take the leadership of SusChem at a time when new strategies in the European research and innovation policy, missions and funding beyond 2020 are being designed,” Dr. Steilemann said, adding that SusChem is already working together with the European Commission on the preparation of the next EU Framework Programme after Horizon 2020.

“The role of the chemical industry should feature prominently in it as the crucial link between scientific breakthroughs and societal challenges for delivering impact. The disruptive technologies needed to transform our economy and society towards a more sustainable future will be enabled through chemistry,” Dr. Steilemann underlined.

A driving force for KETs
SusChem is a driving force behind the EU strategy for Key Enabling Technologies. Under Dr. Sommer’s leadership its strategy was refocused and its role for accelerating innovation reinforced. 

SusChem now includes 14 national technology platforms, connecting national and regional sustainable chemistry initiatives and developing synergies with EU policy and funding schemes. 

Dr. Sommer (pictured right) played a decisive role in the discussions, initiated by SusChem, which lead to the establishment of the SPIRE Public-Private Partnership in the process industries and of which he was also Chair of the Board of Management.

2017 LRI Innovative Science Award Ceremony and Workshop on Making Sense of ‘Omics’

The winner of the prestigious LRI Innovative Science Award, worth €100,000, will be announced at the opening gala dinner of the 19th annual Cefic Long-range Research Initiative (LRI) workshop on November 15-16 in Brussels. The topic of the main workshop is “Making Sense of Omics”. 

Cefic’s LRI Innovative Science Award is Europe’s biggest prize for early career life scientists. It finances outstanding research contributions developing novel approaches for assessing the potential impact of chemicals on human health and the environment.

The research undertaken by the LRI programme complements that done by SusChem with  focus on technology innovation and chemical safety/omics for regulatory applications.

Participants attending the 19th Annual Workshop have the opportunity to gain insights into the LRI programme and its future direction.

Omics: global perpectives
This year’s workshop theme is “Making Sense of Omics”. A dedicated session will discuss the regulatory applications of omics from a European and US perspective.  ‘Omics’ describes a wide portfolio of biology research areas including genomics, proteomics and  or metabolomics.

The event showcases the results from LRI Programme projects and their impact on pressing issues around the technical aspects of chemicals policy. Chemicals-related topics to be examined at the workshop by leading scientists involved in policy making in Europe, Canada and the USA include:
  • Biodegradation
  • Bioaccumulation
  • Carcinogenicity
  • Inhalation nanotoxicology
Key speakers
Key speakers of interest to the media include:
  • Dr Albert Piersma - professor in reproductive toxicology at Utrecht University and Senior Scientist at the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in the Netherlands, member of the Dutch Health Council and of advisory committees for the EU, OECD and WHO
  • Dr Frank Gobas – environmental toxicologist at Simon Foster University, Canada and a member of scientific expert groups and advisory boards for the UN, the US Environment Protection Agency (EPA) and the Canadian government
  • Dr Damian Helbing – assistant professor at the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Cornell University, USA
More information and registration
The LRI workshop takes place at two venues with the opening gala dinner and awards ceremony at Le Plaza Hotel in Brussels on the evening of 15 November with the workshop taking place at The Square conference facility in central Brussels on 16 November.

The full programme for the workshop is available here and you can register via this link. Participation is free.