Wednesday, 29 June 2011

KETs key to EU innovation

The final report of the High Level Group (HLG) on Key Enabling Technologies (KETs) was published late on Wednesday (28 June). This expert group was set up by the European Commission to examine how European industry can maintain or gain a competitive edge through deploying these industrial technologies of the future: micro- and nanoelectronics, advanced materials, industrial biotechnology, photonics, nanotechnology and advanced manufacturing systems.

SusChem co-founders Cefic and EuropaBio both had considerable input to the HLG discussions, support the report’s conclusions and will help bring to reality the recommendations. The report clearly highlights the vital role of sustainable chemistry and industrial biotechnology in furthering competitiveness and addressing the grand challenges facing the EU.

The main conclusions call on decision-makers to adopt radical policy objectives to retain critical capability and capacity in Europe through a single and comprehensive approach to KETs. In particular, the group recommends that the vital importance of KETs should be reflected in the structure and funding balance in the upcoming Horizon 2020 framework for research and innovation and in the priorities of the EU's future regional policy.

Innovation first
Launching the report EC Vice-President Tajani said: "Europe's innovation depends on the development and growth of Key Enabling Technologies. We need to focus our policies better and align them to create more synergies between our instruments to boost Europe's capabilities in the area of KETs."

Technological research and product demonstration projects should be given a high priority. Further recommendations cover the combination of funding mechanisms at EU and national level and a set of actions to enhance technological skills in Europe. An "in Europe first" Intellectual Property policy is called for and a monitoring mechanism to analyse market developments on KETs is also proposed.

The Commission will report back on the policy recommendations in the report in a communication scheduled for the end of 2011.

Gernot Klotz, SusChem board member and executive director of Cefic’s Research & Innovation group, commented: “The report gives a solid blueprint [on] how the entire value chain can be activated simultaneously, which includes not only end-user industries like cars and computer chip producers, but also considers value chain process and materials industries like chemicals.” This value chain approach is a key element in SusChem’s work on innovation issues.

Sustainable chemistry is at the root of the future manufacturing value chain. The report is also an important step towards EU 2020 policy goals for sustainable growth, including efficient use of water, energy storage, resource efficiency and health.

Klotz added: “Putting through these recommendations keeps industry on the front foot to exploit KETs quickly. The end game is a strengthened EU manufacturing base, including chemicals, that will produce lighter cars with longer lasting batteries, better medical products, and smarter ways to achieve the EU’s ambitious goals for more energy efficiency and lower CO2 emissions.”

Cefic, EuropaBio and SusChem are already working with Commission officials to ensure the role of sustainable chemistry in emerging technologies. Concrete proposals have been developed that provide solutions for resource industries, raw materials, water efficiency and smart cities involving the full value chain.

Launched in 2010 by European Commissioners Kroes, Geoghegan-Quinn and Tajani, the KET HLG (members pictured above) had three main objectives:
  • To assess the competitive situation of the relevant technologies in the EU and their contribution to address major societal challenges.

  • To analyse the available public and private research and development and innovation (R&D&I) capacities for KETs in the EU.

  • To propose specific policy recommendations for more effective industrial development and deployment of KETs in the EU.
The final report outlines the need for an integrated approach for all six KETs from ideas to marketable products, the need to establish combined funding mechanisms to promote KET R&D&I projects and finally a three pillar bridge model and strategy to enable KETs to pass over the so-called ‘valley of death’ from research to achieve marketable products and technologies.

Recommendations include the need for three separate stages to overcome this issue:
  • Technological research, consisting of taking advantage of European scientific excellence in transforming ideals from research into technologies competitive at a global level.

  • Product demonstration, in which exploitation of the KETs occurs to create innovative European product prototypes competitive at a global level.

  • Competitive manufacturing, allowing product prototypes duly validated during the demonstration phase to create and maintain in Europe attractive economic environments and globally competitive industries.
Combinations of KETs are embedded at the core of most advanced products, such as electric cars, mobile phones or a advanced medical analysis technology. For example, an electric car is a combination of advanced materials for batteries, microelectronics components for power electronics in order to reduce the weight of the car, photonics for low consumption lighting, industrial biotechnologies for low friction tyres and finally advanced manufacturing systems to produce electrical vehicles at a competitive cost.

Download the full report here.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Amsterdam hosts EFIB2011

This, the fourth Annual European Forum for Industrial Biotechnology & Biobased Economy (EFIB2011), will reflect the growing context and significance of this sector. For environmental, political and economic security in Europe industry, policy-makers and academia must come together to provide viable bio-alternatives for materials, energy and products. Europe’s knowledge and infrastructure makes it uniquely positioned to lead the industrial biotechnology revolution and bring the bio-based economy to the mainstream. EFIB2011 is one of the leading conferences in this sector with high profile speakers and a comprehensive exhibition.

EFIB 2011 will take place on 18-20 October 2011 at the Novotel Amsterdam City Hotel and is organised by SusChem co-founders EuropaBio, in partnership with IntertechPira.

EFIB 2011 will feature over 60 speakers in two plenary and six parallel tracks evaluating the evolving context and growing significance of the industrial biotechnology sector. Two plenary sessions will discuss timely topics including the role of the EU's Common Agricultural Policy reform in the bioeconomy, the bioplastics markets, the use of the bio-based products by mainstream consumer brands, and the utilisation of biofuels by the aviation industry. SusChem’s Peter Nagler of Evonik will contribute to the closing plenary session.

The closing plenary keynote speech will be delivered by Dr Roger Wyse from the leading biotechnology investment firm, Burrill & Company, who will outline challenges to financing a global biobased economy and opportunities for emerging markets.

The six parallel conference tracks cover research, the NGO perspective, innovation, strategy, policy, financing and business in sets of three each day. The Research session will look into breakthroughs in industrial biotechnology and biorefinery research.

The NGO discussion session will involve representatives from NGOs, industry and policy makers and will discuss how sustainability can be measured, visualised and implemented in sourcing and the value chain. It will provide a platform for NGOs involved in the development of policy in these fields to express their views and positions on where the challenges, threats and opportunities lie for Europe.

EFIB 2011 will feature two Innovation sessions, one on each day, and will examine different innovative biobased products. SusChem board members Marcel Wubbolts of DSM and Wim Soetaert of Ghent University will contribute to the innovation session on the second day.

The Strategy track will discuss the importance of improving awareness and understanding of the bio-economy through targeted communications. Five presentations will be followed by a panel debate on the subject of 'Communicating the Knowledge-Based Bio-economy (KBBE)'.

The Policy, Financing & Business session will explore how to profitably develop biobased products from feedstock to end product.

Joanna Dupont-Inglis, Industrial Biotechnology Director at EuropaBio says: "We are pleased to bring EFIB to Amsterdam this year and to organise it in co-operation with NIABA, the Netherlands' Biotechnology Industry Association. Although EFIB focuses largely on European industry, it has captured the interest from attendees around the world, including North America, Asia and Australia, which we are delighted about. We aim to continue attracting a truly international audience to help foster global cooperation."

More information
Full details of all presentations can be found on the event's official website and the conference brochure can be downloaded here.

EuropaBio and Cefic members are eligible for a discounted registration for EFIB2011 as members of partnering organisations. Details on how to register for the conference can be found here.

Plant-based Chemistry in Paris

The first European Congress on plant-based chemistry will take place in Paris on September 5 – 7. Plant-based chemistry constitutes a major avenue for progress in developing sustainable chemistry in Europe. Plant-based chemistry could enable a significant alternative feedstock resource from within the European agricultural community.

The two-day congress 'Plant-based Chemistry for 2020' will take place in the Maison de la Chimie in Paris and will welcome some 400 delegates representing the main plant-based chemistry players (including academic researchers, industry representatives, policymakers and venture capital providers) in Europe with the focus on achievements, challenges and opportunities for this field.

On the first day participants will discuss the state of play in biorefinery concepts from a number of perspectives in the morning, and assess the market for plant-based bioproducts in 2020 in the afternoon.

Policy and impact
On September 6 the programme will look at European policy statements and their likely impact by 2020 during the morning sessions. This session will include a contribution from SusChem on its position on the Knowledge-based Bioeconomy from SusChem board member Marcel Wubbolts.

The afternoon session will look at incentives and regulation and also feature the 2011 awards ceremony for the Agrobiobase bio economy competition.

In addition technical visits to a number of company facilities are possible on Wednesday September 8.

More details of the programme can be found here and details of the registration proceedure here.

The congress is co-organised by the Association Chimie du Vegetal (ACDV), Axelera, the European Renewable Resources and Materials Association (ERRMA), the Germany-based Agency for Renewable Resources (FNR), the French Industries and Agro-Resources cluster (IAR), the UK’s National Centre for Biorenewable Energy, Fuels and Materials (NNFCC) and the Union des industries Chimiques (UIC) – the French chemical industry body.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

FP7 PPP Info Days announced

A two-day information event on FP7 Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) calls on the Energy-efficient Buildings, Factories of the Future and Green Cars initiatives will be held in Brussels on 11-12 July 2011.

The event to be held at the Charlemagne Building will support the preparation of proposals for the third tranche of cross-thematic coordinated calls by these research PPPs. Delegates will hear about the proposed research areas, conditions for participation and future priorities of the PPPs.

The event will also host formal and informal brokerage and networking opportunities.

Details of the event programme can be found here and online registration can be accessed here. Registration will close on 5 July.

SusChem News hopes to be reporting from the conference.

Horizon 2020

"Horizon 2020" has topped the poll of the short-listed names for the future EU-funding programme for research and innovation.

Horizon 2020 received 3055 votes, with runner-up Imagine 2020 getting 2785 and Discover 2020 coming in third with 2478.

The full name that will be part of the legislative proposal at the end of 2011 for the new programme will therefore be: "Horizon 2020 - the Framework Programme for Research and Innovation".

Two nominators of the winning name Marcela Endlova, a teacher from the Czech Republic, and Beata Zyngier, also a teacher, from Poland will get to meet Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn at the European Innovation Convention in Brussels in December.

Announcing the winning name Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn said: "The new name is an important symbol of a new departure and a new adventure. Horizon 2020 is not just a new name for the same Framework Programme. This will be a smarter way to support researchers and innovators in Europe – so as to further boost excellence and to help ensure that good ideas reach the market and generate sustainable economic growth and new jobs. Research and innovation funding will focus more clearly on addressing global challenges. Needless red tape will be cut out and participation made simpler."

Friday, 17 June 2011

Draft 2012 FP7 Industrial Technologies Call Available

The European Commission has published a draft working paper on the likely calls for the 21012 FP7 programme in Industrial Technologes (aka NMP or Nanotechnology and nanosciences, knowledge-based multifunctional Materials and new Production processes and devices).

The current orientation document outlines proposed priorities for the 2012 NMP programme. It is expected that the publication date for all call documents including the final work programme will be on 20 July.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Innovation Union Information and Intelligence system launched

The European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) has just launched the Innovation Union Information and Intelligence system (I3S) as a web-based platform for all Innovation Union stakeholders.

This web-based platform gathers information on each of the 34 commitments made in the Innovation Union Communication published in October 2010. These commitments include crucial issues for innovation such as e-skills, access to finance, a viable and economic EU patent, eco-innovation or joint public procurements.

At the core of the I3S is a searchable repository of detailed information on each of the 34 Commitments. For each of these, a dedicated section of the site sets out:
  • the key dimensions of challenges faced

  • the objectives in tackling these challenges

  • the approach planned to meet these challenges
Key milestones along the way are presented, highlighting the achievements made and specific events, publications and other activities planned.

Background intelligence
Complementing this information, the system provides more detailed background intelligence information relating to each commitment. These facilitate further exploration of the key issues addressed, and provide additional supporting data and analytical perspectives.

The portal aims to ensure that all stakeholders are well informed on the implementation of the commitments by providing easy access to up to date and comprehensive information.

It is planned that the I3S site will be complemented by the launch of a web-based portal on research and innovation policies in EU Member States, Associated Countries and a number of third countries.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

State of the (Innovation) Union

Last week (June 8) the European Commission published a massive report on the state of innovation in the EU and its 27 Member States. The Innovation Union Competitiveness Report 2011 weighs in at several hundred pages, but a more digestable Executive Summary is also available.

In addition, individual country profiles can be accessed via the report's webpage. To be published every two years, the Innovation Union Competitiveness Report will contribute to the Europe 2020 Strategy by providing an in-depth analysis covering the main features of an efficient research and innovation system. The report replaces the former Science, Technology and Competitiveness Report.

Key findings
The report highlights the fact that the EU's innovation performance needs major improvements in many areas if the Europe 2020 strategy is to deliver smart sustainable growth.

Europe needs more and "smarter" investment in both public and private research and development. More research cooperation within the EU and internationally is needed, along with better use of research results, in particular a stronger, cheaper EU intellectual property regime is needed. Education systems need to be adapted to business innovation needs and innovative and fast-growing SME's need more encouragement.

"This Report underlines that the road to the Innovation Union is long and challenging, with big obstacles along the way. But it confirms that the EU has agreed the right policies to get to the end of that road. Putting the Innovation Union into practice at European and national levels is an economic 'must', as important for sustainable growth as sorting out public finances," said Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn at the launch of the report.

Worrying facts
Some disturbing trends and data are revealed by the report. In 2008, 24% of the total world R&D expenditure was performed in the EU declining from 29% in 1995. Relative to GDP, business invests twice as much in R&D in Japan or in South Korea as it does in Europe.

The development of highly-skilled people needs to be better matched with the needs of business. Only 46% of EU researchers work in the business sector compared to 80% in the US.

Weak framework conditions prevent knowledge being transformed into marketable products and services. Although the EU is the primary producer of peer-reviewed scientific publications in the world (29% in 2009) the rate of growth of Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) patent applications in Japan and South Korea is almost double that of the EU.

Shockingly, half of EU Member States do not produce high-tech European Patent Office (EPO) patents at all. The relatively high cost of filing and maintaining a patent in Europe is a clear barrier to successful innovation in Europe. It is estimated that an SME must spend €168000 to obtain and maintain patent protection in all 27 EU Member States. This compares to only €4000 for similar protection in the United States!

Voting time for FP successor

You have until 17:30 Brussels time on Friday 17 June to register your vote for the three short-listed names for the next European Commission programme on research, development and innovation.

The three names were announced by research commissioner Maire Geoghegan-Quinn (below) at the end of the Common Strategic Framework (CSF) conference on Friday (June 10). The conference was held to discuss the public consultation on the Green Paper on future research and innovation programmes, to which more than 2,000 responses were submitted.

Out of the 1600 suggestions received, the European Commission chose the following trio as candidate titles for its next research funding programme, due to start in 2014.

  • Discover 2020

  • Horizon 2020

  • Imagine 2020

The final public choice will be announced around June 20. You can vote here now.

Resounding support
The conference and consultation showed a resounding public backing for the Commission's Green Paper proposal to bring research, development and innovation under one unified framework. The Commission will work to design the future research and innovation programme in the light of the consultation responses between now and the autumn.

Some main messages from the public consultation were:

  • Strong support for bringing research and innovation closer together to enhance the impact of EU funding

  • Simplification of processes should be a top priority

  • EU funding for research and innovation should be directed towards major societal challenges

  • Successful elements of the Framework Programmes (European Research Council, Marie Curie programmes, themed collaborative research) should remain as core elements

  • Funding calls should be less prescriptive and allow room for smaller projects and consortia

  • Support should be available for all stages in the innovation/ value chain using appropriate instruments

  • Enabling easier access by SMEs to EU research and innovation funding is important

  • Basic and applied research should work (and be funded) together

You can read the European Commission analysis of public consultation here.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Cefic Responsible Care Awards 2011

The closing date for entries to the Cefic Responsible Care Awards 2011 is fast approaching. The final date for reciept of entries is 24 June.

The awards are open to companies to showcase their projects or achievements under Responsible Care - the chemical industry's commitement to sustainability - and share their effective and innovative approaches. In celebration of the International Year of Chemistry 2011, a Special Award is dedicated to outstanding community outreach projects. Business federations are eligible to receive this Special Award.

High recognition
The Awards will be presented by the Cefic President during the Global Chemical Industry European Convention in Madrid on 30 September 2011. Winners will be invited to attend the event and receive their Awards. Award winners will feature in a Cefic film that is widely used by Cefic at conferences, on YouTube and on the Cefic website. You can watch the 2010 Award winners film here! All entries commended by the independent jury will be published in Cefic’s Annual Report on Responsible Care and on the Cefic website.

Easy to apply
Just fill in the application form on the Cefic website, submit a short project summary on one page and add any further documentation available. For more information read the application form or contact Bernhard Thier, Manager Responsible Care at Cefic.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Meet our Innovation Managers

Cefic has recently welcomed two new members to its Research and Innovation team who will both play a significant role in SusChem’s development of its EIP/PPP proposals. Many SusChem stakeholders will have met Antonia Morales Perez and Ed d’Hooghe at the Amsterdam Stakeholder event, or via various SusChem workgroups, but for those who haven’t yet met them we profile our two new Innovation Managers below. Welcome!

Before joining Cefic, Antonia Morales Perez (right) was Technical Service and Development Manager at Repsol’s Polyolefins Business Unit. Antonia’s career at Repsol, the Spanish energy and chemicals company, has focused on identification of new market needs and business opportunities including close monitoring of market trends and solutions.

Prior to her position in Polyolefins, Antonia was PE Film and EVA Copolymers TS&D Manager where she was responsible for product portfolio development and technical support to customers. Previous roles included technical positions working with EVA Copolymers and Polypropylene Injection moulding. In 2004 she was “Transition Team” leader for Repsol during the acquisition process of a Portuguese Petrochemical Site from Borealis.

Antonia has been extremely active in national and international industry representative bodies including ISO. From 2006-2009 she was chair of the International Committee of Plastics for Agriculture (CIPA). Antonia has also been a long-term member of the Spanish Committee for Plastics in Agriculture (CEPLA) including serving as its Secretary General and Chairperson.

Antonia obtained a degree in Biology from the Universidad Complutense Madrid before taking a Master in Science and Technology of Polymers at CSIC – Madrid. She also studied Business Administration at the IESE Business School in Madrid.

Antonia’s role in Cefic includes responsibility for the Innovation Union Flagship PPP/EIP projects on Raw Materials for a Modern Society and the Water Efficient Europe proposal.

Ed d’Hooghe (left) will be responsible for driving innovation activities around the Innovation Union Flagship PPP/EIP projects on Sustainable Technologies by the Process Industry (previously known as Resource Efficiency in the Process Industry) and the Smart Cities initiative.

Ed worked in various customer interface and R&D roles for The Dow Chemical Company before the move to Cefic. He joined ABS product R&D in 1990 and moved to Appliances and Consumer Goods in 1991. In 1994 he took on a new role focussing on new application and product development for TPU and ETPU markets which led to the development of various patent protected technologies. In 2000 Ed was named Global Technology Leader for the FULCRUM Thermoplastic Composites business and in 2001 he transferred from The Netherlands to Texas to build a new market development and production facility. In 2003 he returned to Europe to take on the leadership of the automotive EU TS&D department – a role which was later expanded to include global leadership of the automotive plastics value growth team. In recent years Ed took on additional assignments as Global Composites Platform Leader with the mandate to define a participation strategy for this market.

Ed received an M.Sc. in Chemical Engineering from Technical University Eindhoven. He has been a recipient of the Dow 'Bob Cramer' Developmental Scientist award for 'Excellence in Technical Development' in 1998 and the 2000 Dow European Scientist Award. He is also a certified Six Sigma ‘Black Belt’.

International regulation key to nanotech growth

SusChem board member Gernot Klotz of Cefic R&I highlighted the need for a coherent approach to international regulation for nanotechnologies at the EU-US High Level Regulatory Cooperation Forum in Brussels today (8 June).

The event, co-organised by BusinessEurope and the US Chamber of Commerce, also involved the EU Commission and the Transatlantic Business Dialogue - the main business voice with the U.S .Government and the European Union on the transatlantic economic relationship.

Dr. Klotz made the opening statement and outlined the business perspective in a panel discussion on nanotechnologies to which US and EU regulators then responded. He is the coordinator for High Level Group on Key Enabling Technologies working group on nanotechnology.

Follow the CSF Conference via the Web

This Friday’s (June 10) conference on the Common Strategic Framework (CSF) for EU Research and Innovation is taking place in the Charlemagne building in Brussels. The all-day meeting hosted by Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn (below) will present the first results of the public consultation on the Green Paper on the CSF. The Commissioner will also announce the winner of the competition to propose a catchy name for the future CSF that will bring together all EU research and innovation funding.

Registration for the meeting closed awhile ago due to oversubscription, however the conference will be webstreamed live and the final programme can be found here.

The soon-to-be-renamed Common Strategic Framework will, from 2014, cover the successor to the Framework Programme for Research (FP7), the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) with a set of coherent goals and shared strategic objectives. This will create a coherent set of instruments along the whole innovation chain from basic research to the market. The CSF will also feature far-reaching simplification of procedures and rules.

The conference will feature high-level speakers from the European Commission, science organisations, universities, entrepreneurs and governments from across Europe and beyond and will wrap up the public consultation on the Green Paper, present the results of the consultation and focus on how best to support research and innovation in Europe going forward. Leading industrialists, researchers and politicians will highlight the critical importance for research and innovation as a major component of the next EU budget round.

The meeting opens at 9h15 on Friday. Edited video highlights are likely to be available sometime after the meeting.