Friday, 19 December 2014

Commission calls for Pilot Project Ideas

The European Commission has just launched an open consultation on part of the 2016-2017 work programme for Horizon 2020. It covers the societal challenge 5 “Climate Action, Environment, Resource Efficiency and Raw Materials” (SC5) and concerns ideas for relevant large-scale pilot or demonstration projects.

The new call for ideas is intended to:

  • Help identifying which research and innovation areas attract most interest from innovators and innovation users, and 
  • Stimulate developers and providers of innovative solutions to engage in projects of greater ambition in terms of scope, scale and impact

Ideas are invited at this stage for possible pilot/demonstration projects in the following areas:

  • Systemic eco-innovation for a circular economy
  • Climate services
  • Nature-based solutions
  • Water

The Commission will carefully examine all ideas received with a view to:

  • Designing its 2016 – 2017 work programme and ensuing calls for proposals, and 
  • Defining and implementing a supportive EU research and innovation policy framework

The Commission may use some, all or none of the ideas that are proposed in future calls and no grants will be awarded as a direct result of this call for ideas.

More information 
For more information, please go to the survey webpage or contact Avelino Gonzalez-Gonzalez at the European Commission. The deadline for submission to the call survey is 28 February 2015.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

BIC publishes new practical guide to Combined Funding

SusChem stakeholders all know that in theory there are now numerous synergies between sources of European Union (EU) funding for innovation and research. And EU leaders are promoting combined funding to maximise impact when tackling societal challenges. Now a practical guide has been published by the Bio-based Industries Consortium (BIC) focusing on Combining BBI funds under Horizon 2020 with European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF).

The new guide  (below) is is a very useful tool for anyone applying for funds in the Biobased Industries JTI calls and interested in creating synergies with European regional funds. And the guide is also an excellent primer for anyone interested in the practicalities of combined funding for research and innovation.

New funds
New European funding programmes to strengthen research and innovation in Europe have come available in the 2014 – 2020 Financial Framework of the European Union. A myriad of different programmes are available for beneficiaries throughout Europe to co-fund innovation and market developments. These include:

Many of these funds can be combined to boost the European bio-based economy.

In June 2014 the European Commission (EC) has published a European Guide on synergy possibilities between ESIF and other (centrally managed) EU funds including Horizon 2020. The Bio-based Industries Consortium (BIC) guide complements this and provides guiding principles, synergy scenarios and illustrative practical examples on how the Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI) funding from Horizon 2020 can be combined with ESIF (and other) funding.

The 'BIC specific' practical guide is particularly useful as the BBI aims to build new biobased Value Chains from different kinds of (regional) biofeedstocks to new biobased products, aiming to bridge currently different worlds and sectors. Synergies are targeted to maximise the impact of public policies and support in bridging regions, sectors and value chain stakeholders towards new biobased business, new and better jobs and benefits for the environment.

The 38 page guide includes a number of case studies, many SusChem related, that illustrate how funds have been combined. These include:

  • Bio Base Europe: one of several pilot facilities funded by ESIF (INTERREG IV 2007-2013 programme).
  • Novamont: an industrial company integrating chemistry, agriculture and the environment that has various relevant experiences with both EU and regional funding.
  • Biochemtex: its proprietary PROESA(R) technology received funding under FP7, NER300 (a financial instrument of the EU Commission and EIB for renewable demonstration plant) and national funds.
  • R4R: The FP7 funded project is a good example of regional smart specialisation activities receiving funding from FP7, ERDF, INTERREG (ESIF) and national/regional funding.

Commission guide 
A guide on the practicalities of combining funding was published by the European Commission.
The European Commission guide published in June is entitled ‘Enabling synergies between European Structural application: and Investment Funds, Horizon 2020 and other research, innovation and competitiveness-related Union programmes’ and 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).

More information
To download the BIC guide visit the website and for more information on BIC and BBI activities, or you can contact the BIC secretariat.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Eighth CRM_InnoNet Newsletter published!

The latest (eighth) issue of the CRM_InnoNet newsletter (below) has just been published and is available to download from the project website.

The December 2014 issue includes the following features:

Please feel free to share the newsletter with your networks and colleagues.

More on CRM_InnoNet
CRM_InnoNet is a Coordination and Support Action (CSA) funded under FP7 that is creating an integrated community to drive innovation in the field of critical raw material substitution for the benefit of EU industry. SusChem is a

The European Innovation Partnership (EIP) on Raw Materials aims to play a major role in securing a sustainable supply of raw materials for Europe and has set itself an ambitious list of targets to achieve by 2020. CRM_InnoNet’s goals complement those of the EIP on Raw Materials and the project will seek to align its outputs with those of the EIP.

The CRM_InnoNet consortium is comprised of recognised and experienced key actors across the value chain of substitution of CRM representing academic, research and industry bodies of relevant sectors that will ensure a wide European coverage and high potential to engage other necessary players across the ERA.

For more information on email the project secretariat at the UK’s Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) and you can also follow the project on Twitter.

Friday, 12 December 2014

SusChem presents at ERRIN and WssTP Brokerage Event

WssTP, The European Water Platform, together with ERRIN, the European Regional Research and Innovation Network, organised the annual brokerage event on water-related topics last 26-27 November in Brussels. The main aim was to present the Horizon 2020 calls on water-related topics for 2015 and, of course, SusChem was there.

The event brought together different speakers from National Contact Points, the Enterprise Network and the European Commission, who shared their experiences with regards to the project calls in 2014, either as participants or as evaluators, respectively.  A special emphasis was given to the cooperation among the different European Technology Platforms as a better way to address the challenges in the water sector. No single sector can solve the problem alone. SusChem, the European Technology Platform of Sustainable Chemistry, was invited to present its views in the event, explaining the chemical sector perspective as a water using sector as well as a solutions provider.

At the event, Antonia Morales, Head of SusChem National Technology Platforms (NTPs) and Innovation Manager at Cefic, presented the barriers and bottlenecks to innovation in water in Europe and addressed the role of European Technology Platforms and the chemical sector in mitigating non-technological barriers and bottlenecks to innovation. Morales stressed the importance of industrial symbiosis and the need to push for the integration of industrial-urban and rural water management in order to achieve a more efficient use of water.

Water priority
Water is a priority area for SusChem and as part of the event, SusChem offered insights into new technologies, presented chemical sector solutions to tackle water quality and water quantity issues, and provided examples of innovations that are leading to the development of less energy demanding technologies.

The collaboration between WssTP and SusChem has been long-standing. Back in May 2012, during the closing session of the Water Innovation EU conference, the two organisations renewed their formal agreement, which set the support of the European Innovation Partnership on Water amongst its priorities.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Sixth European Innovation Summit: Passion and 3D Printing

Sixth European Innovation Summit ran from 17 to 20 November and SusChem, Cefic and other sustainable chemistry stakeholders were heavily involved with the event. In total 40 Members of the European Parliament, led by the K4I Forum Chair Lambert van Nistelrooij and Vice-Chair Jerzy Buzek, attended the event and 900 registered participants took part in the 30 conference sessions that featured some 150 speakers gathered under the patronage of the President of the European Parliament.

 ‘A Mandate for Innovation in Europe’ was the topic of this year’s summit summarising a common ambition of making innovation the top strategic priority in the new institutional cycle. The continuing inability of Europe to successfully bring great ideas to the market remained the key issue raised by the summit participants. Better regulation, change in the educational system, risk acceptance and management were discussed as the key steps, necessary for Europe to move forward.

A particular focus was put on the importance of a strong engagement of the member states on the innovation front.  There was a broad agreement on the need to clearly assess the potential impact EU legislation has on innovation across all sectors.

Advanced manufacturing
On Tuesday morning The European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic) organised a breakfast debate on "Advanced Manufacturing for a new European Industrial Renaissance." The debate was hosted by Christian Ehler, MEP. Much of the discussion was focused on the ongoing European Commission budget negotiations and the threats to Horizon 2020 funding that could – according to Ehler - lead to a € 10 billion reduction in funds.

Rudolf Strohmeier (above), Deputy Director-General at DG Research and Innovation, European Commission described the proposed budget cuts rather bluntly as “Intellectually incoherent” and joined Ehler’s call for industry and other stakeholders to raise their voices to preserve research and innovation funding.

He stated that the programme itself had got off to a good start in particular praising the success of the new PPP initiatives such as SPIRE. But he said the Commission needed to better understand what is hampering innovation in Europe: what inhibits private investments in Research and Innovation and he called on stakeholders to talk to the Commission about their experience.

Gernot Klotz, Executive Director (above), Cefic talked about the new processes that chemistry could bring to enable a circular economy in particular via the SPIRE and BioBased Industries initiatives. He described Project Phoenix a proposed flagship project of common European interest led by the chemical industry that would work to bring breakthrough innovation to use CO2 to make chemicals and fuels for Europe.

Obstacles to innovation
The debate was continued at the first plenary session on Tuesday that was hosted by Neena Gill, MEP and moderated by Gernot Klotz.

Amongst the speakers Vicky Ford (above), MEP stated that “We must be positive – we can do it” and saw the key as sectors working together for innovation. But she saw a skills shortage as an issue.

Vladimir Sucha (below third from right), Director-General, the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre thought that we needed to break things down and understand the building blocks of innovation. In fact a general misunderstanding of innovation was one of our biggest bottle necks to progress.

Joanna Dupont-Inglis (on left above), Director of Industrial Biotechnology at Europabio described initiatives to build a European bioeconomy a development that would “require bold political moves, clarity of long-term strategy as well as legal certainty and stable conditions.”

Klaus Hoffmann, President of Dow Corning Europe (second right above) agreed with the need for stability. He thought that conditions are important. “Make it easy for me to say yes to invest,” he said. An attractive environment that was predictable and flexible was important.

Horizon 2020: First impressions
The budget discussion was revisited in this final session Tuesday morning. Rudolf Strohmeier called for a wider participation for experts – in particular for industry - to evaluate call responses in Horizon 2020. He also said there was a need for “concrete examples of use of structural funds in combination with Horizon 2020 funds – how it is done

And concluded with a warning that if the European Council get the budget they are proposing then the net effect will be to return European research and innovation back to the level of FP6.

Andreas Förster (above), Director, Dechema said his members thought that Horizon 2020 was working well, in particular in the cross sectorial and value chains initiatives such as SPIRE and BBI working well and more could be done in this area.

He thought that more explanations of calls with higher technology readiness level (TRL) would be good especially for academics who rarely operated at this level. He also thought wider adoption of two-stage assessment process would be useful in reducing workload and standardisation is an issue.

Innovation for energy
Prof. Jerzy Buzek, MEP introduced the debate on energy stated that an upgraded European energy community with new technology for low emission fossil fuels as well as renewable sources.

David Salisbury, President of GERG (the European Gas Research Group) said that we need to think differently about the future. Must avoid ruling out the options keep things open. He observed that existing European gas networks deliver much more energy than the electric grids: “[Europe] must use the existing networks better and smarter,” he said.

Gernot Klotz (above, with Jerzy Buzek) talked about the chemical industry’s contribution to innovation in energy as a major users of energy and also a supplier of materials for energy use and production. There was a need for a strategic continuum for energy technology development, he said.

He also described the three areas of the proposed Phoenix project that all impacted on energy: using CO2 to make chemicals; use of CO2 chemistry for large-scale chemical storage of energy; and the longer-term ‘artificial photosynthesis’ conversion of CO2 into chemicals and fuels.

3D highlights
One of the highlight of the event for many people was a visit to the Cefic SusChem stand and our 3D Printing machines in the Exhibition Space on the third floor gallery of the Parliament in Brussels. The Cefic team is pictured below.

K4I President Lambert van Nistelrooij made a particular reference to the SusChem exhibit in the closing press conference stressing the “need for” and the new materials needed for 3D printing. “We need to not only build new industries, but also rejuvenate traditional and existing industries,” he said. He was also scanned for a ‘mini-me’ figurine (see below).

He had been impressed with the 3D Printing demonstration and saw “a real change coming [in manufacturing] and it was imperative that the EU remains at the core of advanced manufacturing.”

The scanning and 3D printing of figurines was a very popular feature with a number of MEPs being scanned (below) and reproduced in plastic.

Also at the press conference Gernot Klotz emphasised the need for clear stability of policies for innovation. Trust is important in attracting innovation. He also said there was a need for structured research and development advice in all European Institutions and he hoped that the recent abandonment of the Chief Scientific Advisor role at the European Commission was not a sign of a future trend to disregard scientific advice in policy-making.

Passion for innovation
At the opening ceremony on the evening of 17 November Commissioners Carlos Moedas (Research, Innovation & Science), Corina Cretu (Regional Policy), Phil Hogan (Agricultural and Rural Development) and Günther Oettinger (Digital Economy & Society) had made their first public appearance.

Observers described Commissioner Moedas’ speech as “impassioned” and showed a very clear understanding of the issues. Here is an excerpt:
"Over the next five years, I know the new Commission will be tireless in its efforts to create the right conditions for European innovation to flourish.
 Research, science and innovation are not just the sum of a Commissioner's portfolio. They are not just the domain of multinational corporations or elite academic institutions.
They touch every tiny aspect of our lives. From the way we heat our homes, to the way we run our businesses. From the way we heal our bodies, to the way we construct our buildings.
Nothing has greater power to bring about economic prosperity. Nothing will enable us to contribute more to an increasingly interconnected, global society. Nothing has greater power to secure our place on the world stage, as a continent that leads: that eats, sleeps and breathes excellence.
Nothing has more power than research, science and innovation to change lives, to change the status quo, to wake us up, to disrupt! To unleash an outpouring of transformative energy."
You can read the full text of his speech here.

More about K4I
Knowledge4Innovation is an open, independent, non-profit platform with a wide variety of stakeholders including small and large companies, universities and research centres, regions and cities, trade organisations and think tanks. As such, it is the leading Brussels based innovation platform operating within the environment of the EU Institutions. K4I members are from the private, academic and public sectors and include large networks such as EUREKA, COST, Cefic, ECPA and EFPIA as well as universities, regional development organisations, cities, think tanks and small enterprises.

Jacques Komornicki speaks to International Innovation

In an exclusive interview with International Innovation SusChem Secretary Dr. Jacques Komornicki (pictured below) talks about the sustainable solutions to key challenges facing the European chemical industry that SusChem is working to address. He explains how, by bringing together industry, academia, governmental policy groups and wider society, the SusChem is inspiring European chemical innovation. We reprint an excerpt from the International Innovation article below.
Could you describe the European Technology Platform for Sustainable Chemistry (SusChem)’s purpose in the wider context of the European technology landscape, and outline its vision? SusChem is an industry-led platform that brings together stakeholders interested in sustainable chemistry. Its vision is a chemical and biotech industry which fosters innovation in many industrial sectors by providing products and solutions in an open innovation mode. In the broader context of European Technology Platforms (ETPs), achieving this vision means working together and maintaining strong relations with the other Platforms. This is visible with the Sustainable Process Industry through Resource and Energy Efficiency (SPIRE) roadmap established with seven other ETPs. 

How did you become involved with SusChem and what is your academic background? I became involved in SusChem when I accepted an Innovation Manager position at the European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC). Part of this role was to become the new SusChem secretary. My educational background is in chemical engineering, with a PhD in Chemistry. I am currently seconded from industry, with a long history of R&D experience in advanced materials and chemical processes. Nanomaterials were part of the domains in which I worked; in the field of materials we also worked on nanostructuring materials, which are not nanomaterials per se but do provide specific high performances.
Why does SusChem regard Horizon 2020 as a key turning point for research and innovation in Europe, and a major opportunity for sustainable chemistry? The new Horizon 2020 framework programme provides an holistic view, integrating the why (the needs) and the how (the technologies) without being too prescriptive. This leaves the innovation field open. Horizon 2020 is also geared towards more near-to-the-market solutions, which is what is needed to promote growth and jobs in Europe. SusChem’s vision and the technologies proposed in its roadmap (the Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda) come with solutions to the main challenges facing Europe and are certainly part of the best answers to the issues. SusChem is therefore attuned to the Horizon 2020 spirit on a global scale.
You can download the whole article as a pdf from the SusChem website or access the article on the International Innovation website. To access the article in this way you will need to register (for free) with the International Innovation website.

About International Innovation
International Innovation is a global dissemination resource that provides insight and analysis on current scientific research trends, as well as funding and policy issues. Focusing on environmental science, technology, healthcare and regional research, II works with researchers to capture the essence of their projects to transform complex science and technology into digestible, design-rich and articles with impact. Reaching a worldwide scientific and lay audience, with a reach of over 30,000, International innovation is available both on-line and in print.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Chemistry and 3D Printing

Chemical research for the development of 3D printing materials covers a huge range of opportunities including synthesis and discovery of new or mixed material compositions that are amenable to printing techniques, new methods of printing to increase speed while simultaneously reaching higher resolutions, and materials that can provide component properties (such as strength) that are on a par with components produced by conventional methods.

Chemists use 3D printing
Chemists have used 3D printing to manufacture customised lab ware and reaction systems; others are working on a 3D printer that, instead of objects, is able to print molecules. An exciting potential long-term application is printing your own medicine using chemical inks.

What kind of ‘ink’ is used in 3D printing?
3D printers can use metallic powders, polymers, resins, sand, organic materials (for example cells, but also chocolate!), and mixtures amongst many others.

Chemists provide new materials for 3D printing
Chemists developing materials to be used in 3D printing need to take into account variety, composition, strength, and finishing procedures in order to increase the versatility of the technology. Currently, the variety of materials is limited to the ability of the materials to be powder-based or have low enough viscosities to be extruded from the printing head. Many manufacturers require proprietary materials to be used in their 3D printers or risk forfeiting the warranty. This scenario has limited the material pool, and thus, for 3D printing to continue to grow, the quantity and diversity of materials must increase.

Polymers with the right end-use performances and adapted to the specific 3D printing technologies are needed together with suitable metallic or ceramic materials. The chemical industry can deliver these materials - often working on novel derivatives of existing polymer formulations – and the area is a priority topic within the SusChem Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda (SIRA).

Want to know more?
Visit the Cefic-SusChem booth in the exhibition space at the 6th European Innovation Summit organised by Knowledge4Innovation (K4I) on 17 – 19 November 2014. Or contact the SusChem secretariat.