Wednesday, 30 November 2011

SusChem welcomes Horizon 2020 proposals

Today (November 30) the European Commission's proposal for Horizon 2020 - a key component in implementing the Innovation Union flagship under the Europe 2020 strategy - was published. The European Commission communication outlines an ambitious research and innovation programme that reflects much SusChem thinking. SusChem looks forward to supporting and fully engaging with the Horizon 2020 programme.

At the press conference to launch the 350 page programme proposal Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn described the Horizon 2020 as: “A new vision for European research and innovation in a dramatically changed economic environment. Horizon 2020 provides direct stimulus to the economy and secures our science and technology base and industrial competitiveness for the future, promising a smarter, more sustainable and more inclusive society."

She also promised that Horizon 2020 will allow "more research with less bureaucracy" by slashing red tape to reduce time to grant by 100 days compared current EU programmes.

SusChem response
Responding to the communication Gernot Klotz Executive (right) Director of R&I at Cefic and SusChem board member said: “SusChem and the chemical industry fully support this EU-wide approach to research and innovation. The significant increase in the proposed budget in comparison to FP7 is particularly welcome, especially in the area of innovation.”

“Horizon 2020 has a focus on output rather than being over prescriptive,” Klotz continued. “We support the use of bridging actions to coordinate programmes and the inclusion of pilot plant and scale-up activities that are vital to moving ideas into the market quickly.”

Such Horizon 2020 initiatives include European Innovation Partnerships (EIPs) and Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) that incorporate both research and innovation activities. SusChem is involved with the development of four proposed innovation initiatives namely, water-efficiency, resource efficiency, critical raw materials, smart cities and is especially pleased to see references in the Horizon 2020 communication in these areas that strongly reflect SusChem thinking in these areas.

SusChem is also very happy to see the strong commitment in Horizon 2020 to develop and support the concept of Key Enabling Technologies (KETs) and will contribute strongly to this area especially on advanced materials, biotechnology and nanotechnologies.

Fit for innovation
To accelerate the EU out of economic crisis SusChem believes that the whole value chain (from advanced materials and processes to consumer-focused industries) needs to be stimulated simultaneously. Horizon 2020 must support and catalyse this innovation process.

The proposals for a single set of rules for participation and dissemination are attractive, but often drivers for research and innovation are different. “We need to make sure that the research-orientated instruments used in Horizon 2020 are fit-for purpose,” says Klotz. “They also need to pass a ‘fitness-check for innovation’ and, if necessary, be adapted to ensure they address issues such as value chain inclusion and speed of implementation.”

“European Technology Platforms (ETPs), such as SusChem, could help here,” says Klotz. “The formation of advisory groups involving relevant ETPs and other stakeholder could ensure funding is most appropriately and beneficially allocated. We also think that ETPs should now function as EU Technology and Innovation Platforms covering research and innovation and education – all three components are vital for future economic success.”

SusChem is already heavily involved in establishing cross platform and cross sector research and innovation initiatives. For example it has worked closely with others to build the basis for a proposed EIP on a ‘Water Efficient Europe’ that will offer both technological solutions and the opportunity to rethink water use in Europe. The aim being to ensure water quality that is appropriate to its use is available and make sure that for this increasingly scarce resource in Europe ‘every drop counts’.

Horizon 2020
Horizon 2020 promises to be a radical departure from current EU research funding. It aims to modernise and simplify support for research and innovation around three major objectives: excellent science, competitive industries and better society.

It will focus its investments on addressing major concerns shared by all European citizens such as climate change, affordable renewable energy and ensuring a sustainable future. The proposed budget for Horizon 2020 is €80 billion and the programme will run from 2014 to 2020.

The European Commission and European Parliament members are supporting or looking to increase Horizon 2020’s proposed budget, however a number of Member States are advocating lower expenditure. An extended negotiation will now take place before programme budgets are finalised.

More information
A press summary of the Horizon 2020 proposal can be found here and a more detailed memo summary found here. The full European Commission communications on Horizon 2020 proposal communication can be downloaded here from the revamped Horizon 2020 website. To view a recording of the Commission press launch click on the embedded video link below or on the EBS website here. This video link may not be functional after December 6.

A powerpoint presentation on the Horizon 2020 proposal is also available.

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