Thursday, 29 November 2012

Consultation supports SPIRE Roadmap

The revised roadmap for the proposed Public Private Partnership (PPP) for Sustainable Process Industry through Resource and Energy Efficiency (SPIRE) has been recently published on the SPIRE website. This document was the result of over 450 responses to the consultation on the draft roadmap and showed highly positive support for the initiative from a wide range of industry sectors, value chains and stakeholder communities.

The initial roadmap was first presented at the European Commission Info Days on 9 – 10 July and was widely disseminated with the official launch of the consultation on 27 July. The consultation period was open until 1st October 2012.

This public consultation allowed opportunities for submission of comments, requests for clarification and to suggest additional ideas not only from members of the process industry community but also from other bodies and actors across the European Research Area (ERA).

Positive feedback, high acceptance
More than 450 responses were received to the online questionnaire part of the consultation and showed a wide coverage along many different value chains (upstream industry included) as well as across the SPIRE core sectors and other organizations including SMEs, large industry, research and technology organizations, academia and NGOs.

Analysis of the responses from all the different sectors and communities showed high levels of acceptance of the SPIRE roadmap with particularly high scores for the contribution that SPIRE’s vision can make to tackling the challenges listed in the European Commission’s Europe 2020 strategy and its ability to address sustainability issues in the process industries. The responses also indicated that SPIRE will add value to sustainable innovation across the various sectors.

“Overall the consultation process showed an overarching positive feedback across many actors in the ERA,” commented A.SPIRE aisbl Executive Director Loredana Ghinea. A.SPIRE is the legal entity established to manage and implement the SPIRE PPP.

“The highly positive acceptance levels for the contents and structure of the SPIRE roadmap shown in the consultation demonstrates that it reflects the main challenges and interests of the process industry stakeholders,” she added.

More information
The revised post-consultation Roadmap is available to download now on the SPIRE website and will also be published on the European Commission PPP website. A period of validation will now take place until 15 December before formal submission to the European Commission.

For more information on the SPIRE initiative and how you can get involved please visit the SPIRE website or email the SPIRE secretariat.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

A.SPIRE GA hears SPIRE Progress

The first full General Assembly of A.SPIRE aisbl, the legal entity established to manage and implement the proposed Sustainable Process Industry through Resource and Energy Efficiency (SPIRE) Public-Private-Partnership (PPP), was held on Tuesday 20 November at the Sheraton Airport Hotel in Brussels.

Member companies and research and technology organisations (RTOs) heard about the development of the organisation, progress on the SPIRE initiative, including work on the SPIRE Roadmap document, and future plans.

SPIRE roadmap
Following the recent public consultation the new version of the SPIRE Roadmap has been published on the SPIRE website. A period of validation will now take place until 15 December and will be the last chance for input to the document before formal submission to the European Commission. The new post-consultation Roadmap is available now on the SPIRE website and will also be published on the European Commission PPP website.

SPIRE needs you!
A.SPIRE President, Klaus Sommer, and Executive Director, Loredana Ghinea, emphasised the tight schedule for developing the SPIRE PPP and making sure it made the desired impact with decision-makers. The six working groups established to develop the roadmap would continue to work on detailed proposals and support the work of the A.SPIRE board and the Ad-hoc Industry Advisory Group (AIAG).

“It is imperative that all of SPIRE’s members and supporters are fully engaged in developing the PPP and promoting it whenever the opportunity arises at European, national and regional level,” said Klaus Sommer.

Membership of A.SPIRE now stands at 59 member companies, associations or institutions from eight process sectors and 14 countries. New members of his important European initiative are always welcome.

For more information on the SPIRE initiative and how you can get involved please visit the SPIRE website or email the SPIRE secretariat.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

SusChem finalises strategy for Horizon 2020

SusChem has just published its enhanced strategy document: ‘Meeting the Challenges of Europe 2020’. The new refined strategy for the European Technology Platform (ETP) is squarely aimed at enabling SusChem to be fully equipped to meet the challenges that are implicit in the Europe 2020 strategy for growth. It sets a consistent basis for SusChem’s engagement with the forthcoming European Commission Horizon 2020 framework programme for research and innovation.

The enhanced strategy is the result of a consultative process launched at SusChem’s 10th Stakeholder Conference in April and was led by former SusChem Chairman Prof Rodney Townsend (below).

SusChem Chairman Dr. Klaus Sommer comments: “This document will set SusChem strategy for the next few years and will guide our efforts to make a very significant contribution to achieving smart, sustainable growth in Europe. SusChem will be fully engaged in Horizon 2020, and other elements of the Europe 2020 agenda, to ensure that chemistry and biotechnology continue to drive the innovative, truly sustainable technology solutions that are needed to address the challenges facing society today.”

“I thank Rodney for his hard work and dedication in leading the consultation process and preparing the strategy,” continues Dr. Sommer. “The final document also fits very well in terms of both content and in timing with the recent position paper from the European Commission of the future of ETPs.”

The consultation process on the document was exhaustive. “Over the past six months the strategy has evolved as the result of a wide range of inputs from stakeholders,” says Prof. Townsend. “Like so many of SusChem’s activities this has been a highly collaborative effort and the result is a strategy which provides a clear path forward for the platform.”

Key elements
The key elements of the SusChem 2020 strategy can be summarized in two paragraphs:

The new SusChem strategy retains research, innovation and education actions at the heart of its activities. There is a new commitment to engage with policy makers and partner organisations to shape research and innovation policies and deliver truly sustainable innovation that creates value in and for European society.

To achieve its objectives the platform’s partnership activities will be expanded strategically, by increasing substantially multidisciplinary and cross-sector working along value chains. In addition, cooperation between SusChem Europe and its National Technology Platforms will be strengthened.

To download the new Strategy document, please visit the SusChem website. For more information on the new SusChem strategy, please contact the secretariat.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

SusChem: Skills for the Bioeconomy

SusChem presented its Educate to Innovate ideas to the European Commission’s conference "New Skills for a European Bioeconomy" on 20-21 November in Brussels. Gernot Klotz from Cefic outlined SusChem's new strategic approach and the role of education in the platform’s activities.

SusChem is a new form of Technology Platform which fully integrates researchers, academia, industries and skills argued Gernot Klotz. This integrated approach is needed to build a distinct European distinct innovation system that can compete in a global market.

Innovation requires not only technical and scientific skills, but also business and personal skills. Cefic and SusChem initiated studies to determine the critical skills (business, personal, scientific and technical) that scientists and engineers will need to boost innovation in the European chemical industry – a major driver of the future bioeconomy.

The study found a need for a broader scientific skill set that goes beyond traditional single discipline teaching: a multidisciplinary and broad skill set base, also business and personal skills for efficient interdisciplinary work and easy adaptation to new tasks, and strategic awareness of business and innovation management issues.

Educate to Innovate
But how can this be achieved in Higher Education Institutes (HEIs)? In many ways it is a matter of a different approach to teaching rather than teaching something different (in terms of content) suggested Gernot.

Business and personal skills can often be addressed through different teaching methodologies rather than additional courses or new curricula, and opportunities for context- and problem-based learning should be considered when developing new courses. Promoting multidisciplinary working is also important.

This needs a sound industry-academia collaboration to help fill the skills gap. Collaboration between industry and academia on research topics is already well developed. The SusChem Educate to Innovate programme seeks to exploit innovation outputs from SusChem’s Research and Innovation projects to enhance the innovation skills of future generations of scientists and engineers through effective engagement of industry and HEIs.

The programme is developing a framework that will capture examples of innovation and innovative approaches emerging from the SusChem projects and identify and engage with key stakeholders in European industry and academia.

The programme can facilitate constructive dialogue and exchange of ideas on the best ways to introduce key innovation themes into academic teaching. It will also design educational resources that can be used at undergraduate and masters level to develop the skills needed to enhance innovation in the chemical and industrial biotechnology sectors.

The recently adopted European Commission Communication "Innovating for Sustainable Growth: A Bioeconomy for Europe" aims to shift the European economy towards greater and more sustainable use of renewable resources, building on research, innovation and investment. Anticipating and upgrading knowledge and skills and better matching of skills and jobs are key to the success of the bioeconomy strategy in delivering growth and new employment opportunities in Europe.

The "New skills for a European Bioeconomy" conference organised by DG Research and Innovation brought together bioeconomy and education and training stakeholders to discuss skills development needs and employment opportunities rising from the transition to a bioeconomy.

For information on Educate to Innovate see the Education section of the SusChem website or contact Sophie Wilmet at Cefic.