Friday, 25 July 2014

EFIB2014 hosts BIO-TIC Building Block Workshop

The Seventh European Forum for Industrial Biotechnology (IB) and the Biobased Economy (EFIB2014) takes place in Reims, France from 30 September to 2 October and will be one of the events of the year on the exciting and rapidly developing European sustainable biobased economy scene. And SusChem FP7 project BIO-TIC will be contributing with a special workshop on biobased chemical building blocks.

The agenda for EFIB2014 is now confirmed with over 15 countries represented on the conference programme and plenary highlights including debate on the policy agenda for the European bioeconomy, sessions on future feedstocks including what the shale gas boom might mean for Europe's transition to a biobased economy, and opportunities to help define the value chain for a selection of biobased materials. A closing panel session will define opportunities for improving the sustainability profile of industrial production.

EFIB2014 takes place in association with IAR, EuropaBio and Smithers Rapra and will build on the success of EFIB2013.

Chemical Building Blocks
BIO-TIC’s workshop will debate what we need to do to build the foundations for the biobased chemicals industry in Europe. In 2013, the demand for biobased chemical building blocks in the EU was estimated at € 1 billion. By 2030 this is estimated to grow to between € 4.8 and 10.4 billion.

Despite the significant societal, environmental and economic advantages associated with using biobased chemical building blocks, many hurdles exist to their full implementation. These hurdles must be addressed to realise the full market potential for biobased chemical building blocks in the EU and include:

  • Securing a large enough supply of feedstock and at a price which is economically attractive compared to elsewhere in the world.
  • Uncertain definitions, for example for waste, hinder the exploitation of novel and cheap waste streams.
  • Lack of political support for chemical building blocks production, resulting in a lack of confidence from investors and users.
  • Uncertainty surrounding the potential impact of the increasing appetite for shale gas.

The BIO-TIC workshop takes place on the afternoon of 1 October at EFIB2014 and will verify that the hurdles already identified within the project are relevant and will develop concrete and actionable solutions to overcome them. The project focuses on the following chemical building blocks: 3HPA, succinic acid, PDO, furfural, and isoprene as the chemical building blocks that have the highest potential for deployment in the EU.

The workshop will seek to answer the key questions surrounding the production and use of chemical building blocks in Europe, including:

  • Should the EU focus on a broad chemical building block portfolio or should it reap the benefits from its strong R&D base and the current developments in favour of shale gas to develop a competitive advantage in biomass derived aromatics and C3/C4 chemicals?
  • Should the EU focus on improving existing technologies, fine and speciality chemicals where quality is crucial or focus on developing completely new technologies? 
  • Is it feasible or desirable to develop an internationally harmonised framework to allow international trade in biobased chemical building blocks?
  • How do we improve the cost-competitiveness of EU chemical building blocks production?
  • Should we introduce a specific mandate for bio-based chemicals in the EU or would tax incentives or infrastructure grants be more effective?
For more information on EFIB2014, including how to register, visit the conference website.


What is BIO-TIC?
BIO-TIC is a three year project, funded by the European Commission, which aims to identify the hurdles to IB and to develop solutions to overcome them, thereby unlocking the massive potential for this key technology in Europe. The project focuses on five product groups which have significant potential for Europe and which have the potential to introduce cross-cutting technology ideas. These product groups are:

  • Biobased chemical building blocks 
  • Bioplastics (PHA and PLA)
  • Biosurfactants
  • Advanced biofuels
  • CO2 based chemicals

Based on these business cases, the project is developing three in-depth “bio-roadmaps”. These will 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. 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 versions of the roadmaps are 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 and for more information about the BIO-TIC FP7 project website.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Who is Europe’s Most Innovative CTO?

Who is the most innovative European technology leader you know? Spinverse Ltd. and EIRMA, the European Industrial Research Management Association, have launched this year's quest for Europe's Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of the Year. And they are looking for your nominations.

The CTO of the Year award is designed to highlight the role of the most prominent leaders of technology-based growth, promoting innovations to renew European industry and boosting Europe’s competitive advantage. The winner does not have to be CTO by title, however, he or she must be responsible for technology and its development in their company. The competition is based on an open call for nominations, across industry sectors and across Europe.
 
The award will be given to the most innovative technology leader, bringing significant value to their company’s growth through technology. An inspiring team-builder and a leader, he or she must be a passionate communicator of the benefit of technology to all stakeholders in an understandable way. The company represented by him or her will have an innovative and competitive - or an exciting, emerging - technology-enabled offering in Europe and globally.

As Robert-Jan Smits, Director-General for Research and Innovation, European Commission says: "Europe needs to celebrate those who advance technology and innovate. Initiatives like the ‘CTO of the Year award’ are very welcome as they lead to role models and further strengthen innovation in Europe."

More information
For more information, visit http://www.ctoeurope.net. Nominations are open until August 24th. You can also follow the award on Twitter at @CTO_Europe.

Friday, 11 July 2014

SusChem: The Story So Far

As part of our 10 year anniversary celebrations an extended video on the how, what and why of SusChem has been produced. Featuring a host of SusChem personalities that have been involved in SusChem over its first 10 years, the video covers the launch of the platform, its challenges, how we work together and its key achievements so far. The video then goes to look at the new Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda (SIRA), our PPPS (SPIRE and the BBI JTI), the platform's future aspirations and, most importantly, how you can get involved with our activities now. Enjoy! 


Happy Birthday SusChem!



You can download an executive summary of the draft SusChem SIRA here.

To find our more about SusChem and its activities visit our website or contact Jacques Kormonicki, the SusChem coordinator at Cefic. Join us today!


Thursday, 10 July 2014

Formulation: Recognising a Key Enabling Technology for SusChem

At the 10th Anniversary SusChem Stakeholder Meeting (#SusChem10), held last month (June 2014) in Brussels, participants contributed to the development of the SusChem Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda (SIRA). The SIRA will form the basis of SusChem’s input to forthcoming calls for the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme and other European and national research and innovation programmes. The SIRA highlights the importance of sustainable chemistry and biotechnology in responding to the key Societal Challenges facing Europe and addressed by Horizon 2020 as part of the EU’s Europe 2020 growth strategy

In this special article SusChem board member Prof Rodney Townsend (above) outlines the opportunities for SusChem in the Health and Wellbeing area and how the stakeholder event highlighted a new area for potential SusChem research and innovation activities.

On 11 and 12 June at the Stakeholder Event breakout sessions were held to address each Societal Challenge (SC) addressed in the SIRA. Conference participants commented on and added to draft SIRA documents for each SC which had been prepared in advance of the meeting.

Although health and well-being topics were part of the initial discussions when SusChem was first established in 2004, to date SusChem has not considered in depth how innovative sustainable chemistry could deliver health benefits, generally leaving this to Horizon 2020 activities linked more strongly to the pharmaceutical industries, such as the Innovative Medicines Initiative, the Active and Assisted Living Programme and the Joint Programming Initiative on Antimicrobial Resistance.

SusChem well-being
However, it is recognised that there are a number of areas where SusChem could complement these activities, which are critically important if the objectives of Horizon 2020’s SC1 (‘Health, demographic change and wellbeing’) are to be delivered.

A number of topics have already been highlighted in personalised diagnosis using imaging; and responsive materials for prosthetic devices including:
  • Innovative further development of highly sensitive imaging technologies for tumours, ischaemia and neurodegeneration using more specific and multifunctional chemical contrast agents and point-of-care diagnostics: an exciting prospect is to improve the specificity of expensive chemical markers, thus simultaneously increasing sustainability and reducing use of expensive reagents. 
  • Further development of technologies that assist and enable those who either are partially and progressively disabled to continue to contribute positively to society for longer: Here, we envisage an enhanced role for new (‘smart’) materials, such as haptic (reactive to touch or other sensory input), photoactive or piezoelectric polymers, as well as improved prosthetic devices and biomedical implants containing improved biocompatible soft materials for artificial limbs and the like.
Formulation
In addition at the Stakeholder Meeting a key issue came to the fore during breakout discussions: formulation. This is an area that is often taken for granted, yet is of profound importance across the whole of sustainable chemical technology, pharmacology and biotechnology. Formulation comprises a set of key skills and technologies that are absolutely critical for bringing many new inventions and advances in technologies to market in nearly every industry sector.

For example, starting with health, it is fine to design at a molecular level a new contrast agent that can so specifically target characteristic moieties present in a tumour that it can lead to unambiguous identification of the location, size and nature of a tumour. But, can one also design a suitable vehicle for that contrast agent that will ensure that the contrast agent is dispersed quickly through to all the organs in the body, is kept stable as it is dispersed, and delivered in a targeted manner?

Designing a suitable vehicle to achieve this is what formulation is all about. And successful formulation technology is not just important for health applications. It forms the basis of many businesses beyond medical and/or pharmaceutical, including the processing, manufacture and delivery-in-use of foods, personal products, cosmetics, and paints. It also has a role in crude oil extraction, including enhanced recovery concepts such as ‘fracking’, vehicle fuel or lubrication systems and very many other areas.  

The theory that underpins formulation is primarily physico-chemical and was traditionally referred to as ‘colloid science’.  It is concerned with the quantification of the forces that operate at interfaces between discrete physical domains, and how these forces operate and change over a hierarchy of length and time scales in different types of colloidal systems for example suspensions, sols, pastes, gels, foams, emulsions, micro-emulsions, gels, polymer and fat crystal networks, complex fluids and liquid crystals.

These forces combine to yield the observed useful properties of these systems including targeted delivery, visco-elasticity, opalescence, thixotropy, adherence and ‘spreadability’, softness, and dispersibility etc. They also are key to the delivery of product characteristics under different physical and chemical conditions such as the clarity and response rate of a LCD phone display, when an ice cream will soften and melt, how long it takes for an emollient hand cream to spread and penetrate skin, the touch or taste or smell of a food or medicine, how easy a medicine is to swallow and how fast the active components ingest through the stomach and intestinal walls amongst many other examples.

A new SusChem KET?
Although the physics underpinning these phenomena is fairly well understood, this understanding does not in itself lead one to be able to a priori formulate a product with the desired properties. The ability to do this lies with physical and synthetic chemists together with chemical and process engineers and comprises a highly valuable set of skills, based on a sound knowledge of theory and years of experience. But this skill base, so important for future innovation, is declining across Europe as a whole.

The Stakeholder Meeting highlighted the need to nurture and build this skill set as a SusChem key enabling technology (KET) that is applicable across and along value chains that cover many different industry sectors.

In his closing remarks at the 12th Stakeholder Meeting, SusChem Chairman Dr Klaus Sommer emphasised the need for us to highlight “formulation for delivery” in the SusChem SIRA. This will probably now result in the inclusion of a proposal for a Horizon 2020 Coordination and Support Action (CSA) in the SIRA that would bring the chemical, biotechnological and pharmaceutical sectors together to exchange information and enhance each other’s innovative skills in formulation.

For more information on SusChem activities and the new SusChem SIRA contact Jacques Komornicki, SusChem Coordinator at Cefic.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Bio Based Industries JTI: A Major Advance towards the Bioeconomy

Today (July 9) the European Technology Platform (ETP) for Sustainable Chemistry (SusChem) welcomes the launch of the Bio Based Industries Joint Technology Initiative (BBI JTI). This major Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) represents a significant step forward to the realisation of a European bioeconomy.

SusChem has actively supported the development of the BBI JTI and looks forward to working with the initiative to deliver a sustainable, competitive economy for Europe able to tackle some of our biggest societal challenges and bioeconomy opportunities.

The BBI JTI is being launched with six other JTIs (including JTI on ‘Fuel Cells and Hydrogen’ and ‘Innovative Medicines’) at an event with European Commission President Barroso, Vice Presidents Neelie Kroes and Siim Kallas, and Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science (all pictured below at the BBI JTI stand). Together, the JTIs represent a significant joint public-private investment in research and innovation for Europe’s future.


Bio Based Innovation
The BBI JTI will enable a €3.7 billion injection into the European economy between 2014 and 2024, with €975 million provided by the European Commission and €2.7 billion from the Bio-based Industries Consortium (BIC), to develop the emerging bioeconomy. The JTI will finance research and innovation projects and create new and novel partnerships across industry sectors (including agriculture, technology providers, forestry/pulp and paper, chemicals and energy).

The aim of the BBI is to use Europe's untapped biomass and wastes as feedstock to make greener, sustainable everyday products and renewable feedstock.

“At the heart of this initiative are advanced biorefineries and innovative technologies that use sustainable chemistry to convert renewable resources into sustainable chemicals, materials and fuels,” says Dr Gernot Klotz, Executive Director Research at Cefic and SusChem board member.

“The BBI JTI can help develop the building blocks needed to shift from a fossil- and imports-based society to increase the EU’s rate of economic growth, boost jobs – especially in rural areas, rejuvenate industries and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” he continues. “New bio-based industries can increase the competitiveness of the European economy through re-industrialisation and sustainable growth along with other Key Enabling Technologies.”

Four of the six main Key Enabling Technologies (KETs) identified to be critical to strengthening Europe’s industrial and innovation capacity are from the chemical sector: advanced materials, industrial biotechnology, nanotechnology and advanced manufacturing.

BBI launch


Opening the launch of the JTIs this afternoon José Manuel Barroso (above), President of the European Commission, said: "Only if the best brains from academia, industry, SMEs, research institutes and other organisations come together can we successfully tackle the huge challenges that we are facing. This is what public-private partnerships are about, the joining of forces to make the lives of Europeans better, create jobs and boost our competitiveness. We are committed to prioritising the impact of the European budget on the recovery, and these partnerships are doing just that, with first calls for proposals for € 1.1 billion to be matched by industry, within a package representing an overall € 22 billion boost to growth and jobs creation over seven years. They will continue delivering results that no single country, company or even the European Union as such would achieve alone."

The launch of first calls comes almost exactly one year after the European Commission put forward the Innovation Investment Package, a set of proposals to establish seven public-private and four public-public partnerships (including SPIRE, see below).

Commenting on the BBI launch today Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, said: "The bioeconomy has huge potential that is attracting investments all around the world. With this new partnership, we want to harness innovative technologies to convert Europe’s untapped renewable resources and waste into greener everyday products such as food, feed, chemicals, materials and fuels, all sourced and made in Europe."

Peder Holk Nielsen, CEO of Novozymes, added on behalf of the industry partner, the Bio-based Industries Consortium (BIC): “The BBI is an unprecedented public-private commitment because of its focus on bringing bio-based solutions to the market. It is an opportunity to deliver sustainable growth in European regions and to reverse the investment trend currently going to other regions of the world.”


Concluding the launch event Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn (above) said: "As we heard earlier today, only through joint investments in developing our research and innovation capacity can we create the new jobs and growth to overcome the current economic crisis. The challenge is, of course, to make sure that such investments deliver tangible impacts: to help accelerate the development of new technologies and innovations, to generate new markets for innovative products and services; and to deliver good jobs and major benefits to society. I am confident that the JTIs presented here will live up to this challenge. The first calls for proposals illustrate the kind of activities that JTIs will support in our goal of accelerating the deployment of great ideas from the lab into the market – for example large scale demonstrators, testing and prototyping."

BBI and SPIRE together
The BBI JTI builds on ‘SusChem inspired’ projects such as EUROBIOREF: one of three large FP7 projects in a joint call on advanced biorefineries that responded to SusChem’s visionary project: ‘The Integrated Biorefinery’. Innovations from other SusChem FP7 projects such as the F3 Factory will also contribute to the integration of bio based processes into the economy.

“The BBI JTI is one of two major PPPs that SusChem is proud to have inspired: the other being the Sustainable Process Industry through Resource and Energy Efficiency (SPIRE) PPP,” says Dr Klotz. “SPIRE and the BBI JTI will work closely together along defined areas of common interest and will use their synergies to help deliver high resource and energy efficiency that can lay the foundation of the circular economy in Europe, alongside the materials programme of SusChem.”

BBI explained 
The BBI JTI is a €3.7 billion Public-Private Partnership (PPP) between the EU and the Bio-based Industries Consortium (BIC). The BBI is dedicated to realising the European bioeconomy potential, turning biological residues and wastes into greener everyday products through innovative technologies and biorefineries, which are at the heart of the bioeconomy. The Bio-based Industries Consortium - the industrial partner in the PPP - is constituted by a unique mix of sectors including agriculture, agro-food, technology providers, forestry/pulp and paper, chemicals and energy. A short video  explaining what the BBI JTI is all ablout has also been published (see below).


A fact sheet on the BBI and its activities is available and more information can be found at the BBI website.

An Info Day on the BBI will take place on 2 September 2014 in Brussels and will be a 'must-attend' event for all stakeholders interested in understanding the BBI rules for participation.

Five value chains
Organised in five value chains – that range from primary production to consumer markets – the BBI will help fill the innovation gap between technology development and commercialisation, sustainably realising the potential of bio-based industries in Europe.

The BBI is a shift from a fossil- and imports-based society to increase Europe’s share of sustainable economic growth, and is expected to create tens of thousands of jobs (80% in rural areas), revitalise industries, diversify farmers’ incomes, and reduce GHG emissions by at least 50% in comparison to fossil-based applications.

The aim of the BBI is to use Europe's untapped biomass and wastes as feedstock to make fossil-free and greener everyday products. At the heart of it are advanced biorefineries and innovative technologies that will convert renewable resources into sustainable bio-based chemicals, materials and fuels.

The BBI will manage the investments in the form of research and innovation projects that are defined in annual Calls for Proposals and implemented across European regions. In line with Horizon 2020 rules, all stakeholders are invited to submit innovative proposals and demonstrate progress beyond state-of-the-art.

The BBI is dedicated to realising the European bioeconomy potential, turning biological residues and wastes into greener everyday products through innovative technologies and biorefineries, which are at the heart of the bioeconomy.

The BBI is about connecting key sectors, creating new value chains and producing a range of innovative bio-based products to ultimately form a new bio-based community and economy.

Bio-based Industries: using renewable natural resources and innovative technologies for greener everyday products developing new value chains for bio-based industries, from primary production to consumer markets;
  • Using innovative technologies to turn biological residues and wastes into greener everyday products;
  • Moving from fossil-based to biobased products: planting the seeds for the European circular economy;
  • Supporting regional development by diversifying the local economy;
  • Promoting the opening of new markets for bio-based products and applications “Made in Europe”.
The BBI JTI will help create new jobs, especially in rural regions, and offer Europeans new and sustainable products sourced and produced locally. New bio-based industries can increase the
competitiveness of the European economy through re-industrialisation and sustainable growth.

The development of new bio-based products and markets based on smart and efficient use of resources will diversify industries’ revenue streams.

The BBI is expected to bridge European research knowledge with commercial scale bio-based products, making full use of European scientific and technological knowledge. The BBI should benefit all Member States where regions can play an important role through their Smart Specialisation Strategies.

Seven JTIs
The BBI was one of seven JTIs launched at a special event in Brussels on 9 July. Fact sheets on all seven JTI are available via the links below:
For more information, please visit the SusChem website or contact Esther Agyeman-Budu, Cefic communication manager for research and innovation.

An extended SusChem 10th Anniversary video describing the platform, its achievements and its contribution to BBI has also been published on YouTube.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

#SusChem10: SIRA, ICT and Combined Funding

The main topic of the 2014 SusChem Stakeholder event in Brussels on June 11 and 12 was the new SusChem Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda (SIRA). The underlying structure of the document is designed to match key societal challenges under Horizon 2020 with SIRA priorities and SusChem's enabling technologies. The SIRA covers some new topics and, with new combined funding possibilities envisaged by the Commission, will cover potential projects further along the research and innovation chain.

Parallel breakout sessions over the two days of the SusChem event explored priorities and issues in all the SIRA topics including two new areas: ‘Health and well-being’ and ‘Information and Communication Technologies (ICT)’. Brief descriptions of the current main SIRA priority areas are given at the end of this article.

ICT and process control
The ICT topic was the subject of a particularly useful discussion on June 12. ICT is essential for advanced process control in industry and will become even more important in the future as an enabler for improvements in resource and energy efficiency. It is therefore important that the sustainable chemistry community can articulate its needs, knowledge gaps and challenges to guide research and development in this area.

Topics discussed at the stakeholder event included:
  • Fundamental and data-driven modelling (molecular, processes and equipment, applications)
  • Material, product and process design
  • Process engineering techniques
  • Process and equipment monitoring and maintenance techniques
  • Data handling and data analysis techniques
  • Process control, including hardware and software
“ICT already plays a critical role in developing and maintaining chemical products and processes,” explains Pádraig Naughton, Innovation manager at Cefic. “However, in many cases the application of ICT is still conducted in a discrete way throughout the various development and production steps. Huge potential exists to apply ICT technologies across the complete development chain, in a closed loop, leading to an integrated, more efficient and more profitable approach.”

As new process technologies are developed, new ICT technologies will need to be developed and applied. For example, trends towards modular, flexible processing will require an innovative ICT approach to control and monitor variable systems. In addition, with the advent and growth of renewable feedstocks and energy, new challenges arise in the field of ICT to ensure sustainable development.

The session certainly stimulated discussion between industry, academia and the European Commission and a number of priority topics were outlined which will drive developments in this field for the chemical industry at European level. It was concluded that there is a clear window of opportunity for chemical process issues to be addressed in forthcoming Horizon 2020 calls coordinated by DG CONNECT.

Guide to combine funding
The second day of the event also looked at new opportunities for innovation through combined funding within the EU. Presentations described the new innovation investment eco-system in the EU focusing on funding instruments under Horizon 2020 and the opportunities for synergies with structural funds for investment projects that could provide funding instruments that can cover all stages of the innovation chain with optimal use of resources.

A new guide on the practicalities of combining funding described at the Stakeholder event has just been published by the European Commission.

The guide entitled ‘Enabling synergies between European Structural application: and Investment Funds, Horizon 2020 and other research, innovation and competitiveness-related Union programmes’ describes the synergies now available between ESIF (European Structural and Investment Funds) and Horizon 2020 and other EU programmes for innovation and competitiveness.

The 125 page guide contains explanations on the basic rules and principles for obtaining synergies and combining the different funds, and contains recommendations for relevant actors. It is accompanied by descriptions of the various programmes (Annex 1) and guidance via a set of scenarios designed to “inspire programme designers and implementers” with respect to the potential to combine schemes (Annex 2).

The European Investment Bank (EIB) also described its new toolbox of instruments for investment in innovation (InnovFin) that was launched during the SusChem event.

SusChem already has experience of combining funding sources as Thomas Goergen from Bayer Technology Services explained at the event. In the our flagship F3 Factory project the project itself was co-funded via the European Commission FP7 framework research programme while the construction of its backbone infrastructure facility (INVITE) was partially funded by German regional government funds and remains a valuable asset for future collaborative research and innovation projects.

SIRA Outlined
SusChem has just published a new video interview with SusChem coordinator Jacques Komornicki. In the video (below) Jacques describes some of the thinking behind the new SIRA programme and the future direction of SusChem activities.



The SIRA is structured around seven sections:
  • Climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials’ tackling priority areas in raw materials and feedstocks; water conservation, recycling and reuse; waste reduction and recovery; climate action through energy efficiency in the chemical industry; and the chemical plant of the future.
  • A sustainable and inclusive bioeconomy’ looking at sustainable agriculture and forestry; and the establishment of sustainable and competitive bio-based industries.
  • Secure, clean and efficient energy’ dealing with energy efficiency in the chemical industry; products for energy efficiency; competitive low carbon energy production; and enhanced energy storage technologies.
  • Health, demographics and well-being’ focusing on personalised diagnosis using imaging; responsive materials for prosthetic devices; and formulation technologies.
  • Smart, green and integrated transport’ covering green vehicles; materials for reduced energy consumption; materials and systems for sustainable design; and the achievement of a more sustainable internal combustion engine.
  • ICT and the chemical industry: smart processes and smart materials’ exploring the connections between the Information Communication Technologies (ICT) domain and sustainable chemistry that, on the one hand, could boost the overall performance of all the process sectors and, on the other hand, provide new technologies and materials for ICT exploitation.
  • Horizontal issues’ covering four important areas: building skills capacity in Europe; developing a robust definition of sustainable chemistry; accelerating societal uptake of innovation; and developing new innovative business models.
An executive summary of the SIRA can be downloaded here.

For more information on SusChem activities and the new SusChem SIRA contact Jacques Komornicki, SusChem Coordinator at Cefic.

Monday, 7 July 2014

iTeach: Skills for Chemical Engineers Survey

A frequent issue raised by industrialists across Europe when discussing new chemical engineering graduates is the difficulty in finding candidates with the right skills and competencies as well as knowledge to carry out the job. Universities are trying various approaches to improve this situation, but to date there is no reliable and robust framework that would enable them to measure the relative effectiveness of these approaches. iTeach is an EU funded ERASMUS project bringing together academics, industrialists and professional bodies to develop such a framework. As part of their work they have produced a questionnaire to establish a baseline for required skills and competences – and are asking industrialists to get involved. The deadline for participation in the iTeam survey is 20 July.

The first step in the iTeach programme is to establish what skills, competencies and knowledge industrialists consider important and how they currently measure these in their recruitment processes. The iTeam consortium is seeking views of representatives of as many potential employers of chemical engineering graduates as possible to inform the development of the framework.

Anyone taking part in the project will also have an opportunity to receive the project’s findings and in the longer term to influence the holistic training of chemical engineering graduates and ensure they acquiring the right skills and competencies. Participants will also be able to establish close links with academic institutions across Europe to broaden their pool of high quality candidates for recruitment in the future.

Robust and objective
The iTeach project is working to develop a robust and objective framework for the evaluation of the effectiveness of delivering core chemical engineering knowledge and employability skills to graduates. As a first step, they are gathering information on the current state-of-the-art in measuring effectiveness of teaching and perceptions from academics, employers and recent graduates.

As part of this a short (10 minutes) questionnaire has been developed. The responses received will be invaluable in helping to formulate the framework, which will be disseminated widely and made accessible to all chemical engineering academic institutions.

All responses to the questionnaire will be confidential and only used for the purposes of iTeach project. Within the survey free text boxes allow respondents to expand on any of the issues described. At the start of the questionnaire respondents are asked to provide an e-mail address if they wish to receive the results of this survey and also updates on the development of this very important framework. The email address will be kept separately from any responses to the questionnaires to avoid any breach of anonymity.

The iTeach team will also be happy to share with participants the eventual framework to test in their institution.

Please feel free to pass on news of this survey to other colleagues who may be interested in participating in the questionnaire.

About iTeach
The iTeach consortium is looking to improve the training of the future generations of chemical engineering graduates in Europe. The Improving Teaching Effectiveness in Chemical Engineering Education (iTeach) project brings together six European academic institutions from the UK, France, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Portugal, Slovakia and Germany who provide Chemical Engineering degrees with professional or accreditation bodies. Alongside these academic partners the project also involves a number of employer organisation representatives as associate partners of the consortium.

Over three years the project will develop a framework to support the assessment of teaching effectiveness in delivering not only core Chemical Engineering knowledge, but also core employability competencies. The project runs from October 2013 to the end of September 2016.

For more information contact project coordinator Jarka Glassey at Newcastle University.