SusChem’s first pan European Innovation project - BIOCHEM - has been selected for funding by the European Commission under its INNOVA scheme. INNOVA is part of the Competitiveness and Innovation Programme (CIP) managed (during 2009) by DG Enterprise. The proposed total cost of the BIOCHEM project is €4.5M including a significant EU contribution. The project will hold its kick-off meeting on 5 February 2010.
Commenting on the decision Ger Spork, Innovation Manager at Cefic said: “This is a key concrete step in SusChem’s new focus to foster innovation in the chemical and related industries.” This new direction was prompted, in part, by the recent report of the High Level Group (HLG) on the competitiveness of the European chemical industry which asked SusChem to consider promoting innovation networks in key strategic areas – in particular to support SMEs.
“The BIOCHEM project aims to stimulate demand driven bio-based business in the chemical sector and improve the innovation capacity of bio-based chemistry start-ups and SMEs,” says Steve Fletcher of the UK’s Chemistry Innovation Knowledge Transfer Network who lead the BIOCHEM consortium. “In addition, and as a consequence of these actions, the project will help to accelerate the development of the bio-based chemistry market, which is one of the six Lead Market Initiatives (LMI) identified by the EU.”
Initially, using its network of partners, BIOCHEM will define and promote bio-based product opportunities in the chemical sector. The project will also facilitate and help finance of new bio-based business ideas to proof-of-concept, including facilitating access for organizations to European test facilities.
The project will develop tools, methodologies and processes (such as innovation management, life cycle methodologies, business planning, fund raising etc.) that are targeted towards those SMEs who aspire to innovate in the bio-based products market. BIOCHEM has a target of reaching at least 250 companies across eight European countries with these tools.
It will facilitate partnering of technology providers (from both industry and academic) with solution seekers, through new on-line open innovation support tools. In addition it will build capacity with regional and national Innovation Management organisations and chemistry cluster organizations to improve innovation management with local SMEs.
A novel concept will be the market testing of a “federated” Bio-Based Products Investment Fund (BBP-IF) to involve at least five regional funding agencies, business angels and early-stage funders in different European countries. This should improve access to capital and provide support to early stage ventures and accelerate their international growth.
During the project the impact of the different support tools and the integrated service package on start-ups and SMEs in six countries will be assessed. From this recommendations for extending the scope and uptake of the tools developed by BIOCHEM will be made.
In addition to Chemistry Innovation, the BIOCHEM consortium includes other national innovation programmes in Italy, Belgium, Germany, Finland, the Netherlands and Spain, as well as specialist partners in venture capital, public funding and programme consultancy. It will also work with other established European networks and innovation initiatives.
For more information, please contact Steve Fletcher at Chemistry Innovation.