Tuesday, 17 May 2011

An Excellent Stakeholder Dialogue

The 9th SusChem Stakeholder in Amsterdam was a dynamic event that again showed SusChem to be the European network for sustainable chemistry in Europe. Delegates discussed and contributed to SusChem's plans for European Innovation Partnerships (EIPs - see separate report) and caught up on other SusChem developments.

SusChem board member Peter Nagler (right) of Evonik summed up the event saying "We have had a good and interesting day, a lively discussion and good ideas on how to drive things forward."

With respect to the EIPs he noted a key word: Simplicity. "It is a challenge to all of us to build a saleable story, to get better understanding by all stakeholders - indeed all Europeans to actively support these critically important initiatives," Nagler said.

Nagler also stated that the chemical industry is fully engaged with the EIP task as are the European Commission. He sensed differing opinions in the various EU Member States on detail, but all welcomed the EU2020 Agenda where it engaged with national priorities. It was likely that each country would assess their commitment to each EIP on a case-by-case basis.

But there was a need for speed and focus to achieve the ambitions of the EU2020 Agenda. The initial task was to build a common understanding of the challenges in order to build common targets. Nagler speculated if technology platform can change mentalities? In particular to promote entrepreneurship in Europe - is it a mindset or can we educate people to be entrepreneurs? "In any case SusChem must promote further dialogue with stakeholders and the wider society," he stated.

EIPs: work in progress
The Commission's EU2020 implementation process was evolving and the four SusChem work groups' activities were ongoing. The aim to achieve concrete plans by mid-2011 had been pushed forward by the workshops in Amsterdam.

The key messages that chemistry and the chemical industry are solution provider was loud and clear. The essential role of SusChem in EIPs was to align stakeholders and drive deliverables.

A further key message was that the value chain approach championed by SusChem was the way forward. "Within the workgroups this afternoon it became clear that there is no one component in the value chain that can deliver comprehensive solutions alone: we need to engage the whole value chain," Nagler emphasised.

Over the next year SusChem had plenty or work to do and would look forward to the first substantial steps forward for EIPs in its areas of interest.

EIP viewpoints
Earlier delegates were welcomed by Gerard van Harten (left) CEO of Dow Beneluxand Chair of the SusChem national platform in the Netherlands. He wished everyone an "inspiring day". He believed that the SusChem national platforms provided a vital link between EU and national R&I activities. The day's programme was outlined by Peter Nagler who encouraged the audience to "think big". He compared SusChem to the event venue - the Beurs van Berlage. "Both were created to create value and improve competitiveness," he stated. "Sustainability is a comprehensive innovation opportunity."

Following a video message from Cefic president Giorgio Squinzi, Waldemar Kütt from Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn's cabinet described the evolution of the EIP concept. He said that EIP proposals should not cover too broad a policy area, needed to "focus on a few 'killer' activities" and must be targeted to aligning existing R&I tools. He anticipated announcements on the next "wave" of EIPs in September or October following evaluation of the initial EIP on Healthy Aging.

Dutch civil servant Renée Bergkamp, Director -General of Enterprise and Innovation in the Economics ministry, described the R&I policy landscape in the Netherlands. Chemistry had been identified as one of the country's top nine sectors. Each of the "top sectors" had a "top team" including industry, SMEs, science and government to plan national priority programmes. Netherlands would consider engagement with EIPs on a case-by-case basis in terms of how they fitted with national policy.

Following a coffee break a lively panel discussion led by EU journalist Willy de Backer (above far right) saw Waldemar Kütt (right) and Gerard van Harten joined by Janneke Timmerman - a government member of the Dutch "top team" for the chemistry sector - that really opened up discussion on EIPs to stakeholder questions.

ICIS Interactive reports
ICIS - the SusChem media partner for the Amstersdam event was active videoing interviews with speakers and SusChem leaders during the day and will be producing a special edition of the digital publication 'ICIS Interactive' on the event and SusChem developments in the very near future.

The SusChem 9th Stakeholder event was proud to be an official event of the International Year of Chemistry 2011.

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