Monday, 2 July 2012

The Aarhus Declaration

The Declaration signed on 21 June in Aarhus, Denmark was the climax of the Industrial Technologies 2012 conference and represents a major commitment by industry to support European research and innovation activities for the common good of European society and its citizens. The declaration was formulated and signed by a range of industrial partners, including SusChem on behalf of the proposed PPP SPIRE consortium, and we reprint the text in full below.

Please feel free to forward the declaration to colleagues and other interested parties. To find more information on the declaration and SusChem activities to achieve its aims and objectives, please contact the SusChem secretariat.

Declaration at the Industrial Technologies 2012 Conference

“We, the undersigned, represent globally competitive industrial sectors employing over 19 million people in Europe. Our members are committed to join forces with the public sector to significantly contribute to European recovery and to address the challenges facing European society. This is a matter of great urgency. The European economy is stagnant. Unemployment in the EU-27 countries stands at over 10% as of April 2012. Significant and sustainable improvements in economic growth and employment are required.

The EU 2020 strategy demonstrates that this requirement is well understood, and an emphasis on mobilising EU policies to support growth and strengthen job creation is welcome. In order to succeed in the light of intensified global competition a significant effort on not only research, but innovation is needed.

Significant public support for industrial innovation has enabled manufacturing in the US to add 160 000 jobs since 2009, and to maintain this growth significant funding for industrial innovation has been committed via their recovery package. China’s Innovation 2020 plan will see it invest heavily in research and development in High End Manufacturing and Advanced Materials, whilst continuing to spend heavily on infrastructure.

The Opportunity
To address this challenge, we must have companies and industries which are able to thrive in global markets, thereby increasing employment in Europe. Europe cannot compete by compromising on labour costs and less strict environmental protection; nor can it change the restricted nature of its budgets, especially in these challenging times.

Our belief is that innovative products and processes provide the only sustainable way for our industries to thrive in global competition and to continue to create jobs in Europe.

This is an area in which Europe has great potential. We know that Europe benefits from having an exceptionally strong technology base. The European industrial ecosystem has integrated value chains which include a healthy mix of globally leading companies and an extensive network of SMEs, assuring the necessary set of competencies to compete for leadership and excellence.

The Industrial Technologies conference has demonstrated what is meant by industrial innovation:

  • Transforming factories through intelligent automation and integrating factories into smart business networks
  • Developing new technologies to accelerate the implementation of energy efficient solutions in our building stock, enabling new business models and value propositions for citizens
  • Building competitive process industries with exceptional resource efficiency, with value chain coverage to address the sustainable manufacturing requirements in Europe.
  • Ensuring our mobility system becomes more sustainable
Realising this vision requires action and commitment from all partners, public and private.

Public Private Partnerships for Research and Innovation

A better orientated partnership between Industry and Research
We will work closely with the research community, to develop innovations which can be applied in new products and services, and we commit to an open dialogue and responsible partnerships with research centres and universities, to communicate our needs and to be open to new technological opportunities. The most successful outcomes will often occur as a result of collaboration, across research and industry, but also across disciplines: Europe can build from clustering the key value chain players and create a global competitive advantage from this, through such a collaborative approach.

European industry will continue to maintain the high quality of its research base, and therefore the emphasis on excellence is welcomed. This also requires a strategic partnership from the research community to take research closer to market introduction by working on applied research and prototypes.

Public support and investment
Governments at European and national level play a critical role in funding research and innovation in areas where the level of the challenges and market uncertainties make it difficult or impossible for companies or consortia to undertake such projects alone. This requires funding programmes to be structured in a way which enables companies to participate, with faster decision making and by reducing the administrative burden.

We also strongly believe that, to make innovation happen in Europe, public engagement must go further, to design favourable, consistent and coordinated framework policies and fund activities that, whilst closer to market, are still risky and knowledge-intensive, such as piloting and demonstrations.

The overall role of public as incubator specifically where breakthroughs on societal challenges are required must be incorporated in this overall endeavour and therefore policy engagement is required in addition to funding initiatives.

Industrial Commitment
Industry's role is to participate as a partner in this collaborative research and innovation and to ensure that successful joint demonstrations are followed by commercial investment in Europe into new products and processes, which will also trigger job creation.

With this requirement well recognised, our industries are ready to enter into joint programmes and investments to develop, implement and deploy innovative solutions that will secure the sustainability and competitiveness of European industry along with the highly skilled jobs that it provides.

Investing our finances, resources, knowledge and skills will represent our strong and determined commitment to this undertaking, and we foresee that our own investment in Europe will provide an important leverage to that of the public sector and have an impact on growth, competitiveness and jobs."

The declaration was supported and signed by the following four parties in Aarhus, Denmark:

Ignacio Calvo
Vice-President, Energy Efficient Buildings Association (E2BA) on behalf of the Energy Efficient Buildings European Initiative (E2B EI).

Massimo Mattucci
Chairman, European Factories of the Future Research Association (EFFRA)
Klaus Sommer
Chairman of the Board, SusChem, representing the Sustainable Process Industry through Resource and Energy Efficiency (SPIRE) consortium

Wolfgang Steiger
Chairman, European Green Cars Initiative

In addition three organisations representing European material research societies and the wider community of academic and industrial researchers and innovators supported the commitements expressed in the document and were willing to share in achieving its goals of a more competitve and sustainable industrial economy in Europe.

The organisations are:

Rodrigo Martins
President, European Materials Research Society

Ehrenfried Zschech
President of the Federation of European Materials Societies (FEMS)

Marco Falzetti
Chairman of the Steering Committee of EuMaT (the European Technology Platform for Advanced Engineering Materials and Technologies)

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