Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Tomorrow starts with chemistry at EC HQ

As part of the International Year of Chemistry 2011 (IYC2011) the European Commission DG Enterprise is hosting an exhibition at the European Commission Headquarters: ‘Tomorrow starts with Chemistry’. The event will be held at the piazza of the EC’s Berlaymont building in Brussels. Earlier in the year the Berlaymont building was adorned with a giant IYC2011 banner (right).

The exhibition will take place from 5-8 September and will be officially opened on 6 September at an early evening ceremony involving EC Vice-President and Commissioner for Enterprise and Industry Antonio Tajani, Mr. Giorgio Squinzi, President of Cefic, the European Chemical Industry Council, and Prof. Ulrich Schubert, President-elect of the European Association for Chemical and Molecular Sciences (EuCheMS).

The exhibition will show how advanced materials can deliver a more sustainable future and demonstrate the fundamental role of chemistry in our everyday life via engaging exhibits and displays that will lead visitors through an experience that stimulates all the senses. Technologies such as conductive films, light and smart materials, photovoltaic cells and other renewable energy technologies will be highlighted to show how sustainable chemistry can turn science into tools for a world that is fit for the future.

It is often forgotten that chemistry is not only the basis for technologies that make our current high standard of living possible, but also the key to solving many of society’s current challenges.

Without chemistry, innovative advanced materials to build complex electronic devices, or to improve the efficiency and safety of current and future electric vehicles, solar panels or wind turbines to harness the energy of nature, new products to protect health, food and water would simply not be possible.

United effort
In its efforts to create smart growth and an economy based on knowledge and innovation, Europe needs to play to its strengths and build upon robust industrial sectors that have a track record of successful research, innovation and deployment of technology. The chemical industry is such a sector and is determined to play its part.

The chemical community is committed to support, and where appropriate lead, new public-private partnerships in key areas, such as raw materials, sustainable technologies, water efficiency and smart cities, to ensure that big and small businesses can collaborate with society to keep Europe at the forefront of innovation and sustainability and address the major challenges that society faces. The exhibition will demonstrate how many of these challenges may be addressed.

Monday, 29 August 2011

SusChem brokerage event open to all

Preparations are well underway for the 2011 SusChem Brokerage event. The event takes place in Brussels on September 14 and will include opportunities to present project proposals, make general expressions of interest in an area of research and engage in ‘speed dating’ for consortium building.

“The SusChem Stakeholder event is open to all stakeholders in the European sustainable chemistry community, which means anybody with an interest in the sustainable chemistry research and innovation agenda,” says Ger Spork, Innovation Manager and SusChem coordinator at Cefic. “Any party with an interest to participate in the new round of FP7 calls that relate to this agenda is welcome to join us.”

The event will be held at the Hotel Silken Berlaymont (pictured) in Brussel’s European quarter. Delegates can find out more information on the Brokerage event on the SusChem website and you can register for the event here.

The agenda for the event and other useful information, including an overview of the relevant FP7 2012 calls across topics including Nanosciences, Nanotechnologies, Materials and New Production Technologies (NMP), Knowledge Based Bio-Economy (KBBE), Energy, and Environment can be accessed here.

To help in the organisation of the event, and to highlight your project idea or specific offer of expertise, the SusChem Brokerage Partnering Database is now available. This database provides you with the opportunity to upload your project idea and expression of interest for specific calls prior to the event. To register for the SusChem Brokerage Partnering Database, click here.

We look forward to seeing you on 14 September.

Friday, 12 August 2011

EU companies to boost innovation investments


The latest European Commission survey of EU R&D Investment Business Trends published on 10 August shows that the top R&D investing companies based in Europe expect their global research and development (R&D) investments to grow by 5% annually from 2011 to 2013.

The results published in the sixth EU Survey on R&D Investment Business Trends is more than double last year's expectations, and represents a significant upturn from the 2.6% R&D cuts in investment implemented by these companies during 2009. The survey also revealed that an average of 27% of the annual sales of the companies analysed in the report come from innovative products introduced in the past three years. A clear indication of the value of innovation to commercial success and to job creation.

"The survey provides welcome positive economic news and grounds for cautious medium-term optimism, given that business R&D is a key driver of sustainable growth and jobs. But if we are to achieve our Europe 2020 targets, including getting R&D investment in the EU up to 3% of GDP, we will need these forecast investments for 2011-13 to be delivered in practice,” commented Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science. “We will also need further increases in the rate of growth of private R&D investment in subsequent years, both by the big companies covered in this survey and by SMEs. And we will need to deliver an Innovation Union in Europe so that investing in R&D here is more attractive than doing so elsewhere."

Investment in EU and globally
Companies surveyed expect their R&D investment inside the EU to grow 3% a year over the next three years. But they expect the growth in their R&D investment in other world regions to be higher: in particular China (25%) and Japan (17%). The surveyed companies carry out a quarter of their research outside the EU, in particular in the US and Canada.

This trend shows that EU-based companies want to benefit from the growth in emerging economies while still retaining a strong overall focus on the EU.

In response to questions on the key factors that have a positive effect on innovation, the main factors identified were: the availability of qualified personnel and of public support such as grants and fiscal incentives. Collaboration with other entities, such as higher education institutions, was also seen as important.

Factors perceived as negative for all sectors were enforcement costs of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and the time needed to obtain IPR protection. This again highlights the critical importance of fostering an innovation-friendly IPR regime in Europe -in particular the proposed unitary EU patent.

Survey background:
The EU Survey on R&D Investment Business Trends was carried out by the Commission’s Joint Research Centre’s Institute for Prospective Technology Studies based in Sevilla, Spain. The survey results are based on 205 responses of mainly larger companies from the 1000 EU-based companies in the 2010 EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard. Taken together, these 205 companies are responsible for R&D investment worth almost €40 billion, constituting around 30% of the total R&D investment by the 1000 EU Scoreboard companies, which is a significant share of European business investment in R&D.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

New EU prize celebrates Innovative Women

The role of female innovators is being highlighted by a new EU prize. Women make a continuing and vital contribution to Europe's research scene, developing, managing and commercialising the results of myriad studies that impact sectors across the continent.

However turning bright ideas and research into commercial success is an issue in Europe. This latest initiative for encouraging and fuelling the participation of women in innovative enterprises is the European Union Women Innovators prize. The idea is to reward three of Europe’s top women innovators, who have seen the fruits of their labour successfully go to market.

The prize will bolster awareness of why innovation is important, and why an increasing number of women entrepreneurs are needed in both research and industry. These womens’ success can, in turn, foster innovation and enterprise in other women.

How to get involved?
Interested parties must meet six conditions in order to participate in the competition. The contestant must be:
  • a woman living in either a EU Member States or a country associated to the EU's Research Framework Programme;
  • a founder or co-founder of an active company;
  • their company must have been registered before 1 January 2009;
  • their company should have posted a turnover of at least €100,000 in 2010;
  • the contestant must be a recipient of EU funding from either the EU Research Framework Programme or Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) - either as an individual or through the business founded/co-founded by the contestant;
  • the candidate must be active in research and innovation activities, linked to the origin of the product or services, provided by the company she founded or co-founded.
Those keen, and qualified, to take part in the contest must submit their applications by 20 September 2011 at the Women Innovators prize application site. The winning contestants will be notified in mid November.

A total of €175,000 in prize money is on offer! The first prize is worth €100,000, second prize €50,000 and third prize €25,000. An independent panel of judges from academia and industry will assess and select the winning candidates. An award ceremony will take place during the European Commission Innovation Convention taking in Brussels, Belgium on 5 December 2011.