Sunday, 23 September 2012

SusChem Brokerage Big Success

SusChem's last FP7 brokerage event on 18 September was a great success. Well over 100 attendees at the Sheraton Hotel in Place Rogier, Brussels got briefed on SusChem relevant calls for 2013, IPR issues in collaborative research and heard about dozens of new project proposals and expressions of interest - all wrapped up with an afternoon of 'speed dating'!

Opening proceedings Ger Spork from the SusChem secretariat reminded delegates that "research remains a strategic area for SusChem." He also described how SusChem's involvement in project and programme implementation had evolved over the past few years.

Initially our brokerage events were all about SusChem enabling information sharing and supporting consortia formation. This evolved to SusChem being actively engaged in strategic project proposals and driving consortium building. Now and going forward SusChem will aim to be proactive in consortium creation and implementation in SusChem inspired programmes and priority areas (such as SPIRE) and this will require the brokerage process to be initiated earlier in the project proposal process to further strengthen the industry engagement.

Ron Weerdmeester from PNO Consultants outlined how follow-up support will be provided through pro-active project building for strategic topics such as the project on New Indicators and Tools for Resource Efficiency in the Value Chain that PNO is currently building on behalf of the SPIRE community, and through on-line tools such as the SusChem brokerage database.

2013 call
All delegates were issued with summaries of SusChem relevant projects from the 2013 FP7 calls as part of conference pack. Frederic Gouarderes from the European Commission's DG Research presented the 2013 call and reminded his audience that during the five years of FP7 so far some 14 223 grant agreements had been signed, involving 79 167 participants and attracting over €25 billion of Commission funding.

He saw sustainable chemistry as a driver for collaborations to more sustainable products and services and highlighted a number of SusChem inspired projects that had already had tremendous impact.

The 2013 call in FP7 plays a linking role with the next framework programme: Horizon 2020. This programme scheduled to start in 2014 will more closely couple research and innovation and look to get even greater involvement from industry and SMEs. Its proposed budget is €80 billion.

Twenty project ideas for the open calls were presented by industry and academia, with concrete invitations to large industries, SMEs and research organisations to join with their proposals to the EU. Following these presentations partner search requests, various network events, expressions of interests and speed-dating fostered the consortium building on the spot. All project ideas and expression of interests (over 50) are available in the on-line SusChem database for follow-up and further partnering activities towards the open calls.

IPR important
The basics of IPR (intellectual property rights) management in EU projects were outlined by Jeorg Scherer from the European IPR helpdesk . He emphasised the need to consider IP issues at all stages of project formulation and implementation.

Jeorg indicated that with more emphasis on innovation in Horizon 2020 IPR issues will be more important than ever - especially at the proposal stage. He also highlighted that the ownership of IP stays with the partners that developed it. This is a basic element of managing IPR within the consortium agreements.

The IPR Helpdesk is a free service funded by European Commission. The Helpdesk offers a variety of services via personal training, its website and a telephone helpline – the helpdesk can even check articles in consortium agreements.

SusChem hopes to initiate an IPR workshop in early 2013 to examine best practices in IPR management in Public-Private projects.

Building Up
Delegates were also briefed about the Building Up cross technology platform FP7 project on the future construction and energy. SusChem had been involved with this excellent example of value chain collaboration. Laszlo Bax of Bax & Willems Consulting, who had been involved in the project as SusChem representatives, described the project that was now nearing its conclusion.

Its objective was to identify and elaborate cross-sector priorities on materials research and innovation for energy efficient buildings. The end result would be medium term (2020) and long-term (2050) roadmaps detailing cross-ETP collaboration on relevant topics. These outputs will feed into calls and roadmaps issued by the Energy Efficient Buildings PPP, including the targeted extension of this PPP in Horizon 2020. The project also contributed to a SusChem position paper on the Smart Cities EIP in Spring 2012.

Goodbye Ger
One of the final sessions of the day was ‘speed dating’, in which short one-to-one meetings between potential collaborators were arranged. This was a particularly popular part of the event (see picture below) with many more meetings taking place than originally planed.

The meeting was wrapped up by Ger Spork and Ron Weerdmeester giving a reflection of the required evolution of SusChem’s Brokerage role towards Horizon 2020. With the expected first calls for this new EC framework programme for Research and Innovation in early 2014, the brokerage activities will start sometime in mid 2013 on themes from the roadmap basis for the calls. During the SusChem 11th Stakeholder Event, scheduled for 23 – 24 April 2013 in Brussels, more details will be shared on this extended SusChem Brokerage activity.

This meeting was the last SusChem stakeholder event for Ger who is returning to Dow Chemical after four successful years leading the SusChem secretariat and during the closing session Ger introduced his successor, Jacques Komornicki (left below), seconded from Arkema.

In the very near future SusChem News will be publishing an interview with Jacques and Ger to mark Ger's departure and explore Jacques' aspirations for his new role with SusChem.

Ger aims to remain in close contact with SusChem in his new role as New Business Development Director for Dow. The networking cocktail after the Brokerage event was an opportunity for delegates to wish Ger well for the future and welcome Jacques to the SusChem community.

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