Friday, 30 September 2011

Klaus Sommer, new SusChem Chairman

At the SusChem Board meeting on 22 September Dr. Klaus Sommer, Head of Business Management at Bayer Technology Services was appointed as the new Chairman of the board. He succeeded Dr Paul-Joël Derian who has recently moved from Rhodia to a new position with Suez Environnement.

Klaus has been intimately involved in the founding and evolution of SusChem – in particular through leading the Reaction and Process Engineering workgroup and working to realize the SusChem F3 Factory visionary project and several other strategic initiatives for SusChem.

SusChem News caught up with Dr. Sommer after the board meeting to find out his thoughts on the future direction of SusChem and his immediate goals for the technology platform.

SN: What are your plans for SusChem as its new chairman?

KS: As you know SusChem is a multi-stakeholder organization and relies on the work of many committed members, including the board members, from industry, academia and other research institutions. Over the years SusChem has managed to increase its visibility and its effectiveness by defining positions for the Chemical and Biotechnology Industry with respect to programmes and projects based on European Commission funding.

The ultimate aim for SusChem is to contribute to strengthening the competitiveness of Europe. Innovation and Technology are the two key elements in maintaining and improving competitiveness and SusChem has highlighted the critical role of sustainable chemistry and industrial biotechnology in delivering new technological solutions and innovations along the value chain.

We are now at a crucial point since the new Common Strategic Framework for research and Innovation – Horizon 2020 - is currently being defined by the European Commission and the European Parliament. SusChem has two main focus points in this context.

First, to continuously give input for the content and the calls of the Common Strategic Framework and, secondly, to launch significant programmes such as Public Private Partnerships (PPP) or make a significant contribution to European Innovation Partnerships (EIP) in collaboration with other European Technology Platforms. It is my priority to support SusChem in both focus areas.

SN: Do you have some specific programmes in mind?

KS: As I already indicated SusChem will have to develop a strategic plan for Horizon 2020. This would be similar in spirit to the original SusChem Strategic Research Agenda but adapted to recognise the new Societal Challenges like resource and energy efficiency

SusChem is strongly supporting PPPs and EIPs, such as “Sustainable Process Industry through Resource and Energy Efficiency”, “Water Efficient Europe”, “Critical Raw Materials” and “Smart Cities”. These set our priorities for the near- and mid-term.

SN: Do you have any specific expectations from the policy makers?

KS: I can say that SusChem has – over the years – established a very effective dialogue with the policy makers. This goes right back to the original reason why this European Technology Platform was set up namely to establish a body that can coordinate, align and deliver positions in Research, Development and Innovation for the Chemical and Biotechnology Industry. Our expectation is that the dialogue continues and that our positions, together with that of others, are recognized and considered in shaping future policies.

One additional specific point is that tools and workflows need to be continuously simplified so that it becomes even easier to have access to the European Commission Programmes. The formal requirements to engage with European programmes are still often considered to be too high and this acts as a barrier to participation. We have recently seen some encouraging communication and commitments; Horizon 2020 is a great opportunity to implement steps in the right direction.

SusChem has raised the profile of the sustainable chemistry, biotechnology and process engineering over the past few years. It has had a tremendous success in developing a specific research agenda and initiating a range of related projects. I believe that it has even greater opportunities ahead with the innovation agenda and I look forward to leading our technology platform, jointly with the SusChem board members, in these challenging times.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011


The SusChem inspired F3 Factory project took a major step forward recently with the opening of the INVITE research centre at the Bayer Technology Services (BTS) Chempark in Leverkusen, Germany.

The INVITE (INnovations, VIsions and Technologies) research facility (pictured left) is a joint venture between Bayer Technology Services and TU Dortmund University and was formally opened on September 21. The facility is dedicated to the development and testing of flexible and efficient production concepts for the “Factory of the Future”.

The SusChem F3 Factory project will be one of the first projects to take advantage of the INVITE infrastructure. F3 stands for Fast, Flexible, Future and this project marks the first time that 25 partners, including seven of the leading European chemical companies, have put aside their own competing interests to combine the advantages of larger, better optimized plants with those of smaller, more flexible plants with the aim of conserving resources.

Ambitious goals
“INVITE will provide a major part of the infrastructure required to achieve the F3 Factory projects ambitious goals,” said Dr. Klaus Sommer of Bayer Technology Services, a SusChem board member and a leading figure in the F3 project. “The F3 Factory project was originally launched as a “Visionary Project” inspired by the strategic work within SusChem and is an example of how industry and academic partners can collaborate to push technology along in a very relevant area.”

The principle idea is to build chemical factories according to a modular principle. Modular standard apparatus are consolidated into containers, which can then be connected in series to form a complete plant. Both stakeholders in INVITE GmbH (BTS and TU Dortmund) are participants in F3 Factory, a €30 million research project coordinated by Bayer Technology Services.

INVITE’s Managing Director Dr. Thomas Bieringer is pictured above holding a modular micro-reactor component that can be used to construct highly optimized process configurations in the facility.

INVITE funding
Construction of the INVITE facility began in October 2010 and was partially funded by the German federal government and the state of North Rhine-Westphalia with contributions also from Bayer and TU Dortmund University. The centre will eventually employ more than 20 people in the 800m2 facility that comprises a technical centre, laboratories and office space.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Warsaw to showcase SusChem FP7 success

When the European Commission’s FP7 Programme was launched in 2007 its aim was to increase productivity and economic growth through innovation. SusChem had already developed its Strategic Research Agenda to promote collaborative Research, Development and Innovation between European industry and academia in the fields of Industrial Biotechnology, Materials Technology and Reaction and Process Design and many of its ideas and concepts were incorporated into the initial calls for FP7. Now these initial FP7 projects are being competed.

To celebrate the successful conclusion of these initial ‘SusChem inspired’ projects, SusChem is organising an event in collaboration with SusChem Poland under the patronage of the Polish Presidency of the EU to share the outcomes of three successful SusChem FP7 projects that all included Polish participants.

The event, which takes place at Warsaw University on 18 October is entitled ‘SusChem’s FP7 Success Stories: Creating economic value through effective collaboration’ and will feature FP7 projects: EUMET, EFECTS and INTENANT.

The projects
EUMET (Design, Development, Utilization and Commercialization Of Olefin Metathesis Catalysts). Led by St Andrews University in the UK, EUMET has developed a range of novel olefin metathesis catalysts which exceed the state of the art. The first example has already been scaled-up by industrial partner Umicore and is available from chemical research catalogues. Improved olefin metathesis catalysts have also been discovered and approved for the synthesis of a Janssen Pharmaceuticals drug currently in Phase III clinical trials.

INTENANT (Integrated synthesis and purification of single enantiomers). Coorodinated by Max Planck Institute, Magdeburg in Germany the project has looked to simplify the synthesis, purification and yields of enantiomeric substances for the pharmaceutical industry. In partnership with AstraZeneca, Bayer Technical Services and Molisa improved process technologies have been developed and applied to the development each of the company’s development pipelines. Training in the application of the methodologies is being rolled-out across the companies and is changing how they perform their candidate drug pipeline development. A spin-out company FGEN has also been formed which uses the technology developed in INTENANT to develop optimized biocatalysts.

EFECTS (Efficient Environmental-Friendly Electro-Ceramics Coating Technology and Synthesis) was coordinated by the University of Ghent in Belgium and has advanced the use of ink-jet printing technology to develop functional electro-ceramic coatings which have been incorporated into commercial products as diverse as high-temperature superconductors for Zenergy Power’s wind turbines and Nanophos’s self-cleaning ceramic tiles.

The SusChem Newsblog will be featuring case studies from further ‘SusChem inspired’ collaborative projects over the next few months.

SusChem – key to chemistry
This event will bring together European policy-makers, politicians, industry and academia to discuss to share the benefits and impacts that have resulted though collaboration in these and other FP7 projects and discuss best practice for maximising commercial impact from collaboration.

In addition speakers from the European Commission will outline the FP7’s successor programme: Horizon 2020. And SusChem representatives, including Prof Rodney Townsend, will describe the vision and strategy that the technology platform will be taking to maximise the benefits of sustainable chemistry for the chemical community, the European Union and its citizens.

More information
For more information on the Warsaw SusChem Success event take a look at the SusChem website. In particular you can find the agenda for the event here and can register directly for the event here.

For further information and specific queries please contact the SusChem secretariat.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Brokerage event presentations online

Following the very successful Brokerage event on 14 September the SusChem Brokerage Database is being populated with the presentations made on the day. This valuable resource is open to all SusChem stakeholders and registration for access is quick and simple.

All presentations on proposals for potential projects made in the morning session and the Expressions of Interest (EOIs) outlined in the afternoon will be included.

Key tool for you
The brokerage database is a key tool for you to find projects and partners. To be able to utilise the brokerage database you need to register via a simple access form. This can be found here.

A screenshot of the access form is above. The form is easy to complete, but needs input in all areas. In particular if the following fields are not completed: ‘Name’, ‘Organisation’, and ‘Country’ your profile will not be visible in the profile directory and this will limit your use of the database.

If you have any specific requirements re brokerage or other database queries, please do not hesitate to contact the SusChem secretariat. And in any case if you have comments and experience you can share that could improve our Brokerage service, please let us know: IT IS THERE FOR YOU!

Last but not least, we hope to see you all at the Brokerage Event 2012!

Thursday, 15 September 2011

ChemWater plans strategy for sustainable water

Improving efficiency in water use is essential to avoid the potential impact of climate change and other factors on water resources in Europe. The new ChemWater FP7 project will help to address these issues by linking the process industry and water industry.

ChemWater launched earlier in the summer and is a coordination and support action project under FP7 that will last 30 months and involves 11 partners. Its essential aim is to link process industry and water industry know-how to develop sustainable water resources.

The 11 international partners are drawn from the scientific, industrial and water utility communities and will develop a long-term strategy for sustainable industrial use of water in close coordination with existing initiatives and projects. A special focus will be the exploitation of the technological potentials in the fields of nanotechnology, materials and process innovation.

Sustainable solutions
“In developing sustainable solutions for water issues the process industry, especially chemistry, can play an essential role: both as a major water user and a key innovation provider for the development of future water technologies.” says Dr. Thomas Track of project coordinators DECHEMA. A core rationale behind the project is to highlight the role of the European Chemical and related process industries as solution providers within the context of the complex challenges of industrial and urban water management. The project aims to coordinate EU strategies across and beyond existing technology platforms, including SusChem, to integrate and exploit new findings.

“This role emphasises a transformation in perspective which values "chemistry for water" alongside the more traditional notion of "water for chemistry",” explains Thomas. “Such a perspective allows the project to extend its reach and impact beyond the chemical sector itself to key strategic European process industry sectors such as mining, industrial biotechnology, health, food, electronic, pulp and paper, and energy.”

Roadmap for a Water Efficient Europe
Relevant European Technology Platforms active in these sectors will be involved to allow the identification of cross-industry synergies, build a roadmap for technologies and process development requirements and construct an action plan. At the same time, concepts for the rapid commercialization of innovations will be formulated.

ChemWater can provide significant support for the proposed European Innovation Partnership (EIP): "Water Efficient Europe". This will be discussed in a ChemWater workshop to be organised in early 2012. The project will also have synergies with the proposed Sustainable Process Industry through Resource and Energy Efficiency (SPIRE) PPP.

Obviously the issue of sustainable water resources is a global issue. And ChemWater will be looking to work with existing EU international networks and cooperation actions to disseminate its findings across the World.

More information at the ChemWater website.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Brokerage breaks records, sets standards

The SusChem Brokerage 2011 event today (September 14) saw a record number of registrations as delegates presented their research ideas and started to build the basis for consortia to bid for the latest SusChem relevant FP7 calls. In addition to this invaluable networking, delegates learnt about the importance of incorporating standardisation issues into their project proposals – a vital element for market entry.

The opening plenary session at the Hotel Silken Berlaymont in Brussels was literally standing room only as Ger Spork, SusChem coordinator at Cefic (below left) and Ron Weerdmeester of PNO Consultants (below) described SusChem objectives for the day and took participants through the programme.

Following a presentation on integrating standards into project proposals from Ségolène Martin of CEN-CENELEC (see more below) a dozen prospective project proposals were presented in rapid-fire succession before lunch.

After lunch Ron Weerdmeester demonstrated the SusChem brokerage database – an online tool open to all SusChem stakeholder on request – that promises to be a valuable addition to project formulation and consortium building. This was followed by a series of presentations outlining expressions of interest or available expertise from a variety of research organisations.

Before the final wrap up session an hour of ‘speed dating’ and pre-consortium meetings was facilitating with 80 one-to-one meetings arranged prior to the day and many more set up on the day. A poster session was available through out the day.

“The day was a great success,” commented Ron Weerdmeester of PNO. “With so much interest we knew that a ‘military-style’ operation was needed and it all went very well. We look forward to a seeing some great ‘SusChem inspired’ FP7 projects emerging from today’s work.”

Standardisation – a vital market issue
The CEN-CENELEC Management Centre in Brussels was established in 2010 and coordinates the activities of the two EU-funded standards bodies: CEN (the European Committee for Standardisation) and CENELEC (the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardisation). Both bodies coordinate the relevant National Standards authorities from 31 European countries.

Ségolène Martin (right) from the Management Centre described the importance of including work on standards into project proposals. Many FP7 calls explicitly include a reference to work on standardisation as a key deliverable, but all research projects should consider including work packages in this area.

Early consideration of standardisation issues can yield benefits including:
  • Faster and easier access to market
  • Enhanced economic value of the research
  • Easier access to public procurement market
  • Possible licensing revenue
  • Interoperability
  • Codifying the ‘state of the art’
  • Reassurance to consumers and customers
Standardisation issues can be included at all steps of project development to implementation. Standardisation work packages are often placed within the dissemination element of project strategies.

A CEN-CENELEC Research Helpdesk has been established to provide support to the research and innovation community on standards issues. The Helpdesk has a dedicated website and also can also be contacted directly by email.

EC consults on European Research Environment

Yesterday (13 September) the European Commission launched a wide scale public consultation on the state of the EU’s research environment and ideas to improve it. The consultation was launched by European Commissioner for Research and Innovation Máire Geoghegan-Quinn at the European Research Area Committee’s (ERAC) Stakeholder Seminar at the Berlaymont building in Brussels.

The Commissioner’s goal is to achieve the European Research Area (ERA) by 2014, creating a genuine single market for knowledge, research and innovation. This will enable researchers, research institutions and businesses to circulate, compete, and co-operate across borders, increasing growth potential. The consultation will allow the scientific community and other interested groups and individuals to contribute to this process by helping redefine the research landscape in Europe.

At the launch Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn (pictured below, right with Robert-Jan Smits, Director General of DG Research and Innovation at the ERAC meeting) said: "The need to boost Europe's economy means that we have to get the very best out of our research. It is unacceptable that it is often more attractive and easier for our top scientists to cross the Atlantic than to move across the EU. We want the research community to tell us what they need, so we can work together to tear down barriers to growth and jobs."

“We have excellent researchers in Europe. I am determined to give them the research area that they deserve, so that they can drive Europe's economic recovery,” she concluded.

Open consultation
The consultation is open now and will run until 30 November 2011. Some of the questions the European Commission wants to tackle include:
  • Are researchers looking for new opportunities, but finding themselves locked behind national borders?
  • Are scientists in need of new research infrastructures to perform and test ideas?
  • Does the research community need more opportunities to share views, realise new projects and create new products and services?
The Commission will draw on input received on these and many other questions to finalise its proposal for an enhanced ERA Framework, to be published before the end of 2012. The Framework will optimise the coordination of research funding across Member State borders, improving the efficiency and the impact of European research.

The European Commission has identified the ERA as a prerequisite for a new era of innovation and competitiveness in Europe, with the best brains working together so the European Union becomes an "Innovation Union".

All those interested in European research and innovation should participate in the consultation which can be found here.

What is ERA?
The ERA concept was proposed in January 2000 by the European Commission in its communication "Towards a European Research Area" (COM(2000)6), and launched at the Lisbon European Council in March 2000. It was given new impetus in 2007 with the European Commission's Green Paper on ERA (COM(2007)161).

Commissioner Quinn is now determined that it will become a reality. You can read the full text of the Commissioner’s speech at the ERAC seminar here.

ERAC is a strategic policy advisory body that assists the European Commission and the Council of the European Union in matters relating to research and technological development.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Wetsus talks sustainable water technology

The 7th annual Wetsus congress will be held in the northern Dutch city of Leeuwarden on October 3 and 4. The theme for this year’s congress is ‘Cooperation in innovation, a global requirement?’

The congress is split into two halves with the first day covering international cooperation initiatives on water technology including the involvement of public-private partnerships. In the afternoon, parallel sessions cover the major challenges for water and how educational and human resource issues interface with water issues.

The second day is devoted to developments in water science and technology, again in parallel sessions, including the structure of water, invisible threats to water supply, safety of non-piped systems, water reuse, agricultural water treatment, getting value from waste water, desalination and energy from water.

Registration for the first day of the congress is free, but a €175 fee (free for students) is charged for the October 4 sessions.

Centre of excellence
Wetsus is a centre of excellence for sustainable water technology. It creates a unique environment and strategic cooperation for development of profitable and sustainable state of the art water treatment technology. This multidisciplinary collaboration between some 70 companies and 13 research institutes in Wetsus results in innovations that contribute significantly to the solution of global water problems.

More information on registration and programme content can be found on the Wetsus website.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

REACH and Innovation

As part of its extensive review of the REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) Regulations the European Union has commissioned a new survey to assess the impact of the regulations on launched the innovativeness of the chemical industry in Europe.

The survey, which will be open for input until 7 October 2011, is being conducted by the Centre for Strategy and Evaluation Services (CSES) on behalf of the European Commission DG Enterprise and Industry.

This innovation survey forms part of a wider exercise to evaluate the effects of REACH and to inform future amendments to the legislation.

Chemical stakeholders
The online survey of businesses across the European Union will receive feedback on key issues related to the implementation of the REACH Regulation. The survey targets manufacturers and importers of chemical substances but also downstream users, distributors of chemicals and other firms involved in the different stages of the chemicals supply chain that may be affected by the REACH Regulation and is available in all European languages.

Views are solicited on innovation from product conception through testing and piloting to production. Within the interpretation of the term “innovation” is included product, process, marketing and organisational innovation.

For more information on the purpose of the study, please contact Jan Smits, REACH evaluation project leader at CSES. The survey can be found here.