SusChem 2012 was a resounding success. Well over 200 participants enjoyed two days of discussions and debate on future SusChem strategy and heard about progress in priority innovation activities including resource efficiency, water, critical raw materials, smart cities and education. New initiatives were launched and delegates left with a clear understanding of SusChem’s commitement to Europe’s priorities and renewed enthusiasm for the challenges ahead. A summary video of the stakeholder event can be viewed on YouTube.
The next year will be important for SusChem, sustainable chemistry and Europe as the scope and direction of Horizon 2020 and our portfolio of innovation initiatives are discussed and decided.
Summing up the two-day event Klaus Sommer, chairman of the SusChem board, stated: “SusChem has achieved excellent recognition with European institutions. We have good momentum in all our activities and a fantastic opportunity to shape our own and Europe’s future.”
The main conference session on day one had been opened with a supportive message from Prof Jerzy Buzek, MEP who conveyed his strong belief that the “real remedy [to the current economic crisis] will be found through research, development, and applied innovation and the chemical sector will play here a leading role.” He thought SusChem and other technology platforms held a key role in identifying the right ideas and ensuring that EU funds are allocated in the most appropriate manner. The full text of Prof. Buzek's message can be read here.
At the start of the event the 11th full SusChem National Technology Platform (NTP) was formally initiated with the launch of SusChem Belgium.
The 10th Stakeholder also saw the launch of a significant new Education initiative – ‘Educate to Innovate’ - that seeks to exploit innovation outputs from SusChem’s research and innovation projects to help enhance the innovation skills of future generations of scientists and engineers.
Sommer described the education initiative in his summary as: “an opportunity to introduce concepts of sustainability, social skills and entrepreneurship as a mind set and new paradigm into higher education.”
Workshops and plenary sessions throughout the meeting covered the four main innovation initiatives that SusChem is involved with. The road ahead and main issues were discussed. In particular for the proposed SPIRE Resource Efficiency Public-Private-Partnership had been the subject of a Dinner Debate on the evening of the first day with supportive messages from industry, public authorities and the Commission.
On day one SusChem board member Rodney Townsend had had presented the new SusChem strategy initiative to move SusChem towards a European Technology and Innovation Platform (ETIP). On the second day he summed up initial feedback from stakeholders on proposals.
This was generally positive, but there were calls for greater clarity on economic considerations and a clearer definition of innovation. Also there were queries about how to set criteria to define sustainability and suggestion to include regional networks and standardisation into SusChem thinking. Issues such as how collaborative activities can be continued beyond the pre-competitive stage, relationships between large and small companies, and investment, merger and acquisition will all feed into the developing strategy.
Concluding the conference Sommer discussed increased stakeholder involvement in SusChem activities. He saw a need to improve communications with our National Platform network and ensure their alignment with activities on the European level. Discussion and debate between stakeholders was important in shaping policies and more time for this needed to be included in stakeholder meetings.
Sommer also promised a regular email newsletter to SusChem stakeholders to ensure everyone was up-to-date on the status of our initiatives in what was likely to be a dynamic year ahead. And he stressed that stakeholders should not hold back from sending their feedback and input to SusChem at any time – multiple channels were available (twitter, email, this blog etc) – and all input was appreciated.
Next SusChem events
SusChem will be participating strongly in the European Commission’s Industrial Technologies 2012 conference and exhibition in Aarhus, Denmark from 19 – 21 June.
The next SusChem event will be the FP7 Brokerage event on 18 September in Brussels. We look forward to seeing you there!