Thursday, 17 February 2011

Star-COLIBRI talk biorefineries in Budapest

The SusChem/ EuropaBio project, Star-COLIBRI, is organising an Expert Forum Conference on biorefineries on 12-13 April in Budapest, Hungary.

The Star-COLIBRI European Expert Forum on Biorefineries is a two-day conference that aims to initiate partnerships between projects on both a European and national level, and will provide a platform for networking between stakeholders. The meeting will take place at the Radisson Blu Béke Hotel.

The conference will also gather input for two major policy documents in the framework of the Hungarian Presidency of the EU: the Joint European Biorefinery Vision for 2030 and the Joint Strategic Research Roadmap for Biorefineries for 2020.

The first day of the conference will include sessions on 'What is at stake for biorefineries?', 'Covering the whole value-chain: the biorefinery innovation challenge', and 'Preparations for a Joint European Research Roadmap 2020'. The second day looks at public-private partnerships with perspectives from both sides.

The full programme for the event can be accessed here and registration and other details can be found here.


Star-COLIBRI (Strategic Research Targets for 2020 – Collaboration Initiative on Biorefineries) is a two-year Coordination and Support Action funded under FP7. The project involves five European Technology Platforms (including SusChem) and five major European Research organisations.

Star-COLIBRI's main objectives are to overcome fragmentation and promote cross-fertilization in the area of biorefineries research, support innovation by speeding up and facilitating industrial exploitation of research results in the biorefinery field, promote coordination in the field of future R&D funding, and facilitate the creation of Public-Private Partnerships.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Process Intensification in Delft

TNO is hosting the Implementation of Process Intensification Technologies (IPIT) symposium on 15 April 2011 at the Prinsenhof in Delft, the Netherlands. The IPIT Symposium will focus on practical implementations of Process Intensification Technologies with contributions from international chemicals producers and equipment manufacturers. SusChem is supporting the event.

Process Intensification Technologies promise time-saving and flexibility, enabling more cost-effective and sustainable production of chemicals. They are a key aspect of the SusChem inspired F3 Factory project. The IPIT Symposium will highlight barriers to implementation of the technology and discuss how technology leaders in this field succeed. Presentations at the symposium will give examples of best practise and excellence in implementation. A panel discussion is scheduled for the end of the event.

Speakers include Edouard Croufer of Arthur D. Little Benelux, Raf Reintjens of DSM, Nigel Fletcher from Foster Wheeler and Lothar Ott of Lonza. Sigurd Bucholz of Bayer Technology Services and project coordinator for the F3 Factory project will also present, as will Hartmut Schiemann of Procter & Gamble, Peter van Broeck from Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Prof. Xiong-Wei Ni of NiTech, and Dirk Verdoes of TNO.

Registration details
The registration fee for the IPIT symposium is is €200 and you can register at: http://www.tno.nl/ipitsymposium. A preliminary programme for the event is already available.

The symposium commences at 9:00 am and will close with a buffet dinner and networking opportunity from 18:00. Delegates are also invited to join a guided tour of the museum Prinsenhof at 20:00. The museum tells the story of William of Orange and his role in the creation of the Dutch Republic.

Symposium organisers TNO offer innovative processing technologies in a Flow Chemistry approach to Process Intensification, whereby the whole processing chain, from reaction to final purification of the desired product, is the area of attention. In hosting the IPIT Symposium, TNO hopes to give delegates the chance to learn about European-wide experiences with Process Intensification in practice.

BECOTEPS unlocks Bioeconomy potential

The FP7 project BECOTEPS (of which SusChem – via EuropaBio – is a partner) is holding its final event "Unlocking the Potential of the Bioeconomy" on 22 March 2011, from 3pm at the Royal Belgian Institute for Natural Sciences in Brussels.

This closing meeting will present and discuss the project's recently published White Paper entitled: The European Bioeconomy in 2030 - Delivering Sustainable Growth by addressing the Grand Societal Challenges. The meeting will also be a great opportunity for bio-economy stakeholders to network.

SusChem is one of nine European Technology Platforms (ETPs) involved in the Knowledge-based Bio-Economy (KBBE) thematic area that are party to the BECOTEPS (The Bio-Economy Technology Platforms join forces to address synergies and gaps between their Strategic Research Agendas) project.

White paper - grand challenges
The BECOTEPS White Paper is the result of discussions between its constituent ETPs and a series of open meeting with a wide variety of stakeholders. The primary focus of this document is to elaborate on common themes and joint priorities across the widely diverse sectors relevant to the European Bioeconomy.

It shows how the Bioeconomy can address the grand societal challenges and sets out a vision for 2030 together with a set of policy recommendations needed to achieve it. Realising the vision across a range of sectors will create a smart, sustainable and inclusive European Bioeconomy. It is hoped that the White Paper will help to provide a better understanding of the Bioeconomy and key actions needed for its successful development to 2030.

The paper concludes that a successful Bioeconomy needs coherent and integrated policy direction, with key areas being:
• Investment in relevant research areas, both within each of the sectors and by encouraging multidisciplinary programmes;
• Encouraging innovation to make sure that more of the knowledge developments reach the commercialisation stage;
• Making entrepreneurship within the Bioeconomy a desirable career option;
• Providing a skilled workforce by making the various sectors of the Bioeconomy attractive career options through secondary and tertiary education;
• A streamlined and innovation-friendly regulatory framework which balances both risks and benefits;
• Good two-way communication with the public embedded in R&D projects to ensure societal appreciation of research and innovation.

Registration
The closing event on March 22 is free and a walking dinner will be provided, but pre-registration is mandatory. An outline programme for the event is given below. To register for the BECOTEPS "Unlocking the Potential" event just email Antoine Peeters at EuropaBio with your name and organisation.


BECOTEPS is a FP7 Specific Support Action (SSA) that was formally launched in March 2009 and funded for two years. The project aims to increase coordination between its participating ETPs and develop recommendations for better interaction between stakeholders along product supply chains, promote sustainability, and address research synergies and knowledge gaps.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Got a Good Bio-based Business Idea?

During 2011 and 2012, the SusChem inspired European project BIOCHEM will provide entrepreneurs wishing to develop new bio-based products with a unique opportunity to promote their company and meet face-to-face with top European biotech investors, venture capitalists and other industry players.


Four ‘Accelerator Fora’ are being organised by BIOCHEM as part of its mission to boost innovation by smaller enterprises in the emerging bio-based sector.

The first forum is now scheduled for 5-7 October in Milan. In 2012, two more fora will be held in Frankfurt and in London. The first forum was initially planned for Madrid in May 2011 but this has now been postponed until 2012.

Networking is key
The BIOCHEM Accelerator Forum offers a partnering system to assist in identifying potential partners from academia and industry, venture capitalists and test facilities all over Europe.

Recent research is showing that this type of networking is critical to small business success in the biotech sector. Writing in the International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business, Cristina Sousa and colleagues at "INETI" - the National Institute of Engineering, Technology and Innovation based in Lisbon, Portugal claim that the opportunities that arise, and whether or not they are exploited by biotechnology entrepreneurs, depends to a large extent on how well connected the individual business person is and how well they mobilise their social network.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

SusChem assists HLG implementation

SusChem was well to the fore at the European Commission’s conference on the competitiveness of the chemicals industry in Brussels on February 10. This one-day meeting emphasized the urgency of implementing the recommendations of the report of the High Level Group to preserve and extend Europe’s position in this vital global market. The conference focused on two key drivers for competitiveness: innovation and human resources

The High Level Group on the Competitiveness of the Chemical Industry (HLG) issued its report containing 39 recommendations in July 2009. The key objective of the February 10 meeting was to review how implementation is going.

A Commission working paper reviewing implementation was published on 4 February. In it SusChem gained praise for its actions in orientating research initiatives and supporting the participation of chemical companies in EU R&D programmes, refocusing its activities over the full knowledge triangle (research, innovation and education), and increasing co-operation to address sustainability across sectors. This type of integrated approach will be important for the upcoming Innovation Partnerships initiative (EIPs – see below) .

Opening the conference EC Vice President Antonio Tajani (below left) pointed out that the HLG’s recommendations were a road map for the sector's competitiveness and that, although the work is off to a good start, "there is still a lot to be done". He stressed that the Commission is working alongside industry and will assume its responsibilities but "we also call on all other players to continue and step up their efforts".


Global competition
The EU chemicals sector has to face increasing global competition especially from emerging countries in recent years. "The market is changing fast, which obliges us to give thought to how to keep our leadership on the global market," said Giorgio Squinzi, president of Cefic, the European Chemical Industry Council (above right).

Squinzi praised the “many positive elements in the Commission’s communication ‘Innovation Union’” and called for rapid implementation of the European Innovation Partnerships (EIP) described in the communication.

“The chemical industry is determined to lead the future of innovation with other sectors through the innovation partnerships,” said Squinzi. “The chemicals sector stands out as a solution provider to major societal challenges. We believe our sector has a unique position and a natural fit for a leadership role that frames the partnerships.”

Chemical Innovation Partnerships
The potential for the chemical sector to take a leading role in European Innovation Partnerships was further highlighted by Gernot Klotz, Executive Director Research and Innovation at Cefic.

His presentation focused on what the sector can contribute to EIPs with SusChem’s thinking and leadership as key themes. Klotz’s presentation covered the industry’s commendable track-record in innovation, broadening engagement and sharpening skills.

The industry has four priorities for Innovation Partnerships: a Water Efficient Europe, Raw materials for a modern society, Smart Cities, and Resource Efficiency in the Process Industries.

He argued that the chemical industry in the future would be recognised for its clear value to society. This would need a mind shift within the industry to greater pre-competitive cooperation and open innovation along the value chain.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

A Comprehensive Approach

Today (9 February 2011), EU Commissioner for Research and Innovation Máire Geoghegan-Quinn (below) presented a Green Paper which proposes major changes to EU research and innovation funding that should make participation easier, increase scientific and economic impact and provide better value for money for EU taxpayers. The proposals are out for consultation until 20 May.

The changes, which could be introduced in the next EU budget after 2013, would bring together the current Framework Programme for research (FP7) and its successor, the Competitiveness and Innovation Programme (CIP), and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT).


This proposed "Common Strategic Framework" (CSF) would create a coherent set of instruments along the whole "innovation chain" starting from basic research, culminating in bringing innovative products and services to market, and also supporting non-technological innovation, for example in design and marketing.

"These ideas are very much in line with current SusChem thinking both in terms of the continued emphasis on research and our strategic work programme on innovation along the value chain and in close cooperation with other related European Technology Platforms. The indicated simplification commitments are crucial to ensure increased private engagement and show confirmation of increased trust in public private collaborations," commented Ger Spork, Innovation Manager at Cefic and SusChem coordinator. SusChem intends to respond positively to the Green paper.

Simplification
The Green Paper provides the basis for far-reaching simplification of procedures and rules. The changes aim to maximise the contribution of EU research and innovation funding to the Innovation Union and the Europe 2020 Strategy.

Some initial actions on simplification of the rules for participation were announced by Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn at the end of January, but the proposals in the Green paper go further and require co decision with other European Institutions.

At a press conference to launch the paper Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn said: "Our aim is to maximise value from every euro the EU invests in research and innovation. By making our programmes more coherent and simpler, we will make life easier for researchers and innovators – especially SMEs - attract more applicants and get even better results."

She promised: "Rigidity replaced by flexibility, confusion replaced by consistency."

A video extract of the press conference is embedded at the end of this article.

Clear focus
The CSF keeps a clear focus on three mutually reinforcing objectives: giving the EU a world-beating science base; boosting competitiveness across the board; and tackling grand challenges such as climate change, resource efficiency, energy and food security, health and an ageing population.

It also makes EU funding more attractive and easier to access for participants, for example through a single entry point with common IT tools or a one-stop shop for providing advice and support to participants throughout the funding process. The CSF should allow a simpler and more streamlined set of funding instruments covering the full innovation chain, including basic research, applied research, collaboration between academia and industry and firm-level innovation.

There will be much simpler and more consistent procedures for accounting for the use of the funds received. This may involve, for example, greater use of lump sum payments.

Other ideas in the Green Paper include: further steps to pool Member States' national research funding; better links with cohesion funding; using EU funding to stimulate public procurement; more use of prizes; further strengthening the role of the European Research Council and of financial instruments such as the Risk-Sharing Finance Facility (RSFF) and the loan guarantee and venture capital investments; and drawing up a set of performance indicators to measure the success of EU research and innovation funding.

Dedicated response
The Commission is initiating a widespread consultation on the Green Paper and has established a dedicated web page on the document to handle responses. The deadline for contributions is Friday 20 May 2011.

Responses can be made in a variety of ways. There is an online questionnaire, written submissions can be made (some of which may be published on the site), and an interactive blog has been initiated.

In addition events are planned to be held during the consultation period with the Commission planning to host a major event on June 10 after the close of the consultation to bring together and discuss the main outcomes.

These will be used to design the proposals, to be presented by the Commission by the end of 2011, for a legislative decision of the Council and Parliament on the Common Strategic Framework.

Name that CSF
However a new name for the proposals should be available by then as, in parallel, a competition for the name of the Common Strategic Framework is being organised. This open competition to find the most inspiring name for the CSF will be launched in the next few weeks with the winning entry announced at the June 10 conference. Got any suggestions?




GREEN PAPER "From Challenges to Opportunities: Towards a Common Strategic Framework for EU Research and Innovation funding."

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

EuropaBio sustaining SMEs

SusChem partner EuropaBio has recently published a brochure highlighting its policy initiatives and resources for SMEs in the biotech sector. EuropaBio established a dedicated SME platform in 2009.

The EuropaBio brochure highlights six key recommendations that can help biotech SMEs to flourish in Europe. These include making EU funding instruments more accessible to biotech SMEs through improving the awareness of initiatives such as European Investment Bank loans, and developing short term investment vehicles that can increase the availability of risk capital. Maximising the use of European State Aid rules at member state level and developing measures and opportunities to capture the value of research within Europe are also important. Further simplification of rules for participation in EU Framework Programmes for Research is also required and the achievement of measures such as the Enhanced Single European Patent.


Cross-sector
Biotech SMEs are active in all sectors from healthcare to industrial and agricultural applications, often working with larger companies to develop solutions for longer, healthier and greener lives. In the healthcare sector, for example, larger biopharmaceutical companies are increasingly relying on external R&D. This is mostly performed by emerging SMEs which represent as much as 30% to 50% of the research pipeline for many major companies.

Andrea Rappagliosi, Chair of EuropaBio said: “These enterprises have the high-end skills to deliver the innovative products and services and the smart, sustainable and inclusive growth that the EU is seeking. But if we want them to fulfil their potential there are some significant barriers that we need to break through. This new publication consolidates the aims and achievements of EuropaBio’s SME Platform, highlights the obstacles still in the path of biotech SMEs and makes six clear recommendations on how to tackle them.”

Monday, 7 February 2011

BIOCHEM ready to accelerate

During its first year of operation, BIOCHEM – a SusChem inspired project that supports SMEs wishing to innovate in the field of products made from biomass, such as bioplastics - has laid the groundwork for acceleration of industrial biotechnology innovation in Europe during 2011.

Enormous progress
So far, BIOCHEM has completed a comprehensive assessment of the needs, the barriers and the opportunities specific to the European bio-based products market. A partnering platform has also been developed in order to help SMEs share their ideas and identify business and research partners ready to follow them in their new activities.

“We have achieved an enormous amount in the first year of the BIOCHEM project,” commented Dr. Steve Fletcher, BIOCHEM project coordinator at Chemistry Innovation Ltd in the UK. “Our BIOCHEM business toolbox should be fully operational by April, we have assembled pieces of high quality information to support the project, and we have identified SMEs across Europe that can take advantage of all this.”

A toolbox to accelerate bio-based innovation
Once ready, the toolbox, which includes business planning tools, lifecycle analysis and access to facilities, partners and funding, will be accessible through the European Commission’s INNOVA Portal. It will be used to help selected European SMEs conceive and deploy their innovative business ideas, and to accelerate their growth within the bio-based market.

“In March we will train about forty individuals – National Innovation Managers - in the use and application of the toolbox,” continues Steve Fletcher. “Then the work can begin to assess the potential of each company and provide it with information tailored to its specific profile and needs.”

A large database of relevant EU-based start-ups and SMEs who might benefit from BIOCHEM assistance has been compiled, and 100 SMEs will be audited by BIOCHEM experts throughout 2011. By the end of the project, at least 250 SMEs will have received support from BIOCHEM.

Launched in February 2010 BIOCHEM is a pan-European project co-funded by the European Commission’s INNOVA programme to support companies entering the rapidly emerging market of bio-based products. For more information on BIOCHEM visit the website or why not register on the Partnering Platform - it is free to join!

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Sustainable chemistry on Commission HQ

Yesterday (2 February) a 'mega banner' promoting sustainable chemistry was unveiled on the European Commission's headquarters, the Berlaymont building, in Brussels.


The 40 metre tall banner celebrates International Year of Chemistry with the message 'Chemistry innovating for a sustainable future'.

The banner coincides with an important conference for the High Level Group on the Competitiveness of the Chemical Industry (HLG) that takes place in Brussels on 10 February.

The conference will take stock of the current situation for the European chemicals industry and present examples of actions undertaken to implement the recommendations of the HLG report published in early 2009 with particular emphasis on innovation and human resources.