Friday, 12 October 2012

Council endorse Raw Materials EIP, KETs

Yesterday (11 October) at its meeting in Luxembourg the Council of the European Union on Competitiveness endorsed the launch of the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) on Raw Materials and called on the European Commission to develop and finalise the partnership’s Strategic Implementation Plan by the end of 2013. SusChem is part of the consortium that developed the proposal for the EIP. The Raw Materials EIP will support the development of innovative technologies, possible regulatory measures and standardisation and public procurement initiatives.

“SusChem is very happy to see the endorsement of the EIP,” said Antonia Morales Perez, Innovation Manager at Cefic, who has coordinated the ETP’s work in this area. “SusChem has been heavily involved in the process of the preparation of the EIP, in particular leading the work package on substitution of raw materials. However many other aspects of the partnership are also of great interest for us including extraction and recycling activities. Policy and international cooperation complement the topics to be further developed in the Strategic Implementation Plan.”

SusChem is also a member of the Alliance 4 Materials (A4M) organisation that brings together a number of European Technology Platforms with a strong materials agenda to collaborate and coordinate activities.

Conclusions
The Council conclusions welcomed the European Commission’s Communication entitled "Making raw materials available for Europe’s future wellbeing ─ Proposal for a European Innovation Partnership (EIP) on Raw Materials" that was launched at the end of February this year.

The EIP is seen as a key contribution to the successful implementation of the Innovation Union, the Integrated Industrial Policy for the Globalisation Era, and the Resource-Efficient Flagship initiatives.

The Council is also looking for the Commission to appoint representatives to the High-level Steering Group that will oversee the Raw Materials EIP that represent a good balance between industry, environment and research, including all relevant fields of expertise in the raw materials value chain. The Commission will report on progress in developing the Raw Materials EIP by the end of July 2013.

Chemical innovation is key
Our modern society is dependant on a range of raw materials, including industrial minerals and metals used in high technology applications that support our lifestyle and infrastructures. But many of these raw materials are not easily available or only found in areas geographically remote from Europe. All are an essentially finite resource: we only have one planet to live on.

Four sustainable solution strategies can contribute to improving the future security of supply for these raw materials. The activities are collectively known as the ‘4Rs’:

  • Reduce – use less of the material to deliver the same product effect
  • Reuse – enable the recovery of a material to deliver the same effect repeatedly
  • Recycle – enable the recovery if a material to be reprocessed with no loss in value
  • Replace – substitute with a material, process, technology or business model that delivers the same (or better) effect

Any new solution should also reduce the overall environmental impact and be safe to users and consumers.

All these solutions will require sustainable chemistry to achieve them and will contribute to the medium to long term security of supply for raw materials in Europe. They will also boost resource efficiency and develop new business areas such as advanced recycling processes.

KETs
The Council conclusions also strongly endorsed the Commission’s strategy on Key Enabling Technologies (KETs) and its Communication entitled "A European strategy for Key Enabling Technologies ─ A bridge to growth and jobs". This policy area is also of intense interest for SusChem and a critical element for the future competitiveness of Europe.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Sustainable Chemistry Future in an Uncertain Europe

SusChem board member and former Chairman Prof Rodney Townsend has written a feature article on SusChem, research, innovation and the future of Europe for the Finnish chemistry magazine Kemia.

Prof Townsend was invited to write the article following lectures at Helsinki University and at the Helsinki Chemicals Forum earlier in the year.

The article entitled ‘Building a Sustainable Chemistry Future in an Uncertain Europe’ was published in Kemia (the Finnish Chemical Magazine) and can be accessed here. The article covers the increasing importance of sustainable chemistry and the way new chemical technologies can make a tangible difference to all our futures. According to Kemia’s editor the article has attracted a lot of reader response and interest already.

Readers of the article are strongly encouraged to learn more about SusChem and to actively join in with SusChem’s activities. Prof Townsend hopes that the article will prompt interest in Finland forming its own National Technology Platform – a development that SusChem would welcome.

Kemi is a professional magazine dedicated to chemistry and first published in 1974. It is the membership magazine of the Association of Finnish Chemical Societies and the Biobio Society with a total readership of over 10 000.

Water Task Force Priorities

The Task Force set up to draft the Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP) for the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) on Water met for the first time on 25 September in Brussels.

The Task Force has 45 members covering a wide representation of stakeholders al with great interest in solving, through innovation, the current water challenges that Europe and the rest of the world are facing. The chemical industry is represented by Gernot Klotz (for Cefic and SusChem) and Markus Bush (of Dow Water Solutions and also representing Cefic).

“This first meeting of the Task Force was a very productive meeting, mainly dedicated to discussing the priorities to be selected as a further step to those already proposed by the Steering Group,” commented Gernot Klotz.

Priorities
The three priorities already selected by the EIP High-Level Steering Group were:

  • Water-energy nexus
  • Water governance
  • Financing for innovation.

Following a ranking exercise two further priorities stood out and the Task Force consensus was to add these as EIP on Water priorities. These priorities are:

  • Water re-use and recycling
  • Water and wastewater treatment

Three further priorities were also selected by the Task Forcefollowing an in-depth discussion at the meeting. They are:

  • Risk management of water-related extreme events (floods & droughts)
  • Management models and monitoring
  • Ecosystem services

Out of the eight priorities chosen by the Task Force, some have clear cross cutting characteristics, whereas others are priorities in themselves.

From the chemical industry point of view all the priorities reflect the value of a “Symbiotic approach” based on the integration of the Urban-Rural and Industrial areas that will achieve faster implementation of innovative solutions and obtain the maximum benefit from the synergies among them. The priorities, their innovation potential, market opportunities and concrete actions will be described in the EIP on Water (SIP) that will be drafted by the Task Force

A summary report on the outcomes of the Task Force meeting is available on the Water EIP website.

The Task Force proposal has to be approved by the Steering Group during October. The Task Force will then start writing a first draft of the SIP, including concrete activities related to the full set of priorities.

The Task Force reports to the EIP’s High-level Steering Group which provides strategic guidance for the development of the SIP. The SIP document should be finished by the end of November and approved by the Steering Group before the end of this year.

Background
The background to the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) on Water is outlined in the European Commission Communication of May 2012. The EIP will be a tool to support the Blueprint to safeguard Europe's water resources, which will be presented by the Commission in November 2012 as the water milestone of the European Commission’s Resource Efficiency roadmap.

For more information on SusChem activities in the water sector contact Antonia Morales Perez, Innovation Manager at Cefic.

Note this is an update to an article first published on 3 October 2012.

Friday, 5 October 2012

SusChem and SPIRE thank Ger and Ed

At the latest SusChem Board meeting (October 5) SusChem Chairman Dr. Klaus Sommer thanked Ger Spork and Ed d'Hooghe for their contributions to SusChem's achievements and wished them both good luck on their return from secondment at Cefic R&I to Dow. And the entire SusChem team wishes them all the best for the future.

Klaus Sommer thanked Ger for being the "good spirit of SusChem" for the past four years. He praised Ger's self motivation, loyalty and ability to coordinate the diverse stakeholder community that was SusChem - a task he described as being akin to "herding cats". Klaus also thanked Ger for being "great fun to work with" and hoped that he would "not be a stranger" to SusChem in his role as New Business Development Manger in Dow Benelux.

Klaus Sommer introduced Dr. Jacques Komornicki as Ger's successor at Cefic. You can read an extended interview with Jacques and Ger here.

SPIRE success
Klaus was also full of praise for Ed d'Hooghe who is returning to Dow to be Human Resources Director for the Benelux region. Klaus described Ed as the very "visible spearhead for SPIRE" and thanked him for his drive, tenacity and stamina in establishing, what he believed to be, "the basis for success for SPIRE" going forward.

Klaus Sommer is President of A.SPIRE aisbl the legal entity established to develop the SPIRE Public Private Partnership.

Ed's duties as Executive Director of A.SPIRE have now been assumed by Loredana Ghinea from the Cefic R&I team who has been working on the SPIRE concept since its inception. Klaus, Loredana and Ed are pictured above.

Consultation closed
Loredana's main task at the moment is the analysis of the responses to the SPIRE Roadmap Consultation document. The consultation period closed on 1 October and several hundred responses were received.

These will be used to inform a final version of the Roadmap which should be available by the end of October.

For more information on SPIRE activities or to become a member of the PPP consortium, please contact Loredana or visit the SPIRE website.

SusChem: Some Future Perspectives

Jacques Komornicki is taking over the reins of the SusChem secretariat now that Ger Spork is returning to Dow after a successful four year secondment as the ‘face’ of SusChem. SusChem News caught up with Ger and Jacques, pictured below with SusChem chairman Klaus Sommer (left), to review the recent achievements of the platform and discuss what the future may hold.

Dr. Jacques Komornicki has a chemical and materials research background and is joining Cefic from French company Arkema where he was recently R&D Director for oxygenated products. His career to date has been very much in research areas working with various materials development initiatives including high performance polymers. He describes himself as a “Research and Innovation fan”, which is why he was attracted to the secondment to Cefic and SusChem.

“It is a very different job, with a steep learning curve,” he admits. “I will need to understand the context and environment in which SusChem works in Brussels – understand the acronyms and language used in the European Commission and Parliament. I need to get to know who the key people are - who does what. My understanding, which corresponds to my personal philosophy and gives me a high motivation, is that we are working in a highly collaborative mode whether we are talking about industry partners or European Institutions.”

Fortunately he and Ger have had some time for a handover period that has helped introduce Jacques to the world of SusChem.

Value chain
Jacques comes from an area of the Chemical industry, Performance Products, where working along the value chain is natural. “To be successful the chemical industry you cannot work in isolation,” says Jacques. “You really have to collaborate with partners – both downstream and upstream – to get the best solutions. In general within the chemical industry to get the best out of R&D you need to embrace open innovation.” He also has good experience of working in EU projects and has experienced first hand the value of pan European collaborative research.

Improving the public’s perception of chemistry and the chemical industry is also very important to Jacques. “Generally in France the chemical industry is still seen by many people as polluters - the bad guys,” says Jacques. “The image does not match reality and people do not value the industry enough. I hope that working in Cefic I can help to put chemical industry back in its right place as a genuine solution provider for societal needs.”

Ger agrees and his experience indicates things are moving in the right direction. “SusChem has made a great evolution in the last years, bringing it in much better position for public and private partners,” he says. “The industry has got a stronger profile and the current environment gives a better position for our solution provider role: and a great opportunity for SusChem.”

Platform for sustainability
Looking back Ger sees many changes during his time with SusChem. “Suschem was well established as a research platform and we could build from that,” he says. “I was impressed with how things were run but had one question: what is our impact?”

Finding out what the impact was a revelation and allowed SusChem to step up a gear and consider a wider ambition. “When the early impact analysis was done in 2009 the numbers were fantastic: €600 million worth of granted projects that were SusChem inspired in the first 18 months of FP7,” boasts Ger. “And on average we are still looking at around €300 million per year. These sorts of figures made the industry take notice of the value position of our Industry platform.”

And chemistry and the chemical industry can still do better than this. “If you look at relative contribution to GDP then our sector should get nearer one billion Euros,” claims Ger. "This level of funding would be in line with our fundamental contributions to society and help to bring the support together to create full programme proposals like in a Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) with large-scale collaborative research and elements of demonstration. Now that is real impact to my mind.”

These concepts will be important in the new framework programme (Horizon 2020) to ensure that innovation gives Europe a real competitive edge.

SusChem has moved from a pure research platform to become a research and innovation platform targeting societal needs. The chemical sector has a lot to do as the solution provider for societal challenges such as producing novel lightweight materials, improving resource and energy efficiency. Challenges such as using CO2 as a feedstock for useful products are areas where the chemical industry will be the key solution provider.

Leading collaboration
Ger is keen to highlight another change in SusChem's approach. "Previously we always stepped away from the content of projects," he says. "SusChem acted as a catalyst enabling others to build projects. Now SusChem is also involved in the process of contributing to projects and driving initiatives where necessary."

This trend is highlighted over the past four years by the willingness of Cefic and other SusChem partner organisations to make a greater content contribution to projects and programme. “This is very positive,” says Ger. “The willingness to do more than just run the technology platforms is a big plus. Cefic is now willing to become a concrete partner in projects, for example E4Water, which adds great value.”

“So change is very important," continues Ger. "It is important to regularly get a new perspective."

Jacques recognises the value of these initiatives. “SusChem is now involved with a lot of other platforms and projects: for example A4M, E4Water and of course SPIRE. The industry is an actor in all value chains: an important actor, but not the only one. This means that collaboration is essential,” he says. “And it goes beyond research. To do good research, get good results, to set up a pilot line is useful but how does this translate into jobs in the EU? That is the essential question today.”

Ger agrees. “Public engagement to cross the so-called innovation ‘valley of death’ is key to address societal challenges, which are excellent growth creation opportunities and what we are doing is important here,” he believes. “This will ensure we achieve something truly sustainable and again this means that we need to know what is the impact. We need to be able to demonstrate that we are creating a sustainable future. We must be able to demonstrate the capability to generate jobs by 2020.”

Both Jacques and Ger are enthusiastic about the role of the platform leading open innovation in the chemical industry. “This is an area of great future interest for the industry,” concludes Ger. “At present a lot of people talk about open innovation, but not many actually do it. SusChem has a huge potential role to promote open innovation.”

You can contact Jacques Komornicki at the SusChem secretariat.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Water Task Force Launched

The Task Force set up to draft the Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP) for the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) on Water met for the first time on 25 September in Brussels.

The Task Force has 45 members covering a wide representation of stakeholders al with great interest in solving, through innovation, the current water challenges that Europe and the rest of the world are facing. The chemical industry is represented by Gernot Klotz (for Cefic and SusChem) and Markus Bush (of Dow Water Solutions and also representing Cefic).

“This first meeting of the Task Force was a very productive meeting, mainly dedicated to discussing the priorities to be selected as a further step to those already proposed by the Steering Group,” commented Gernot Klotz.

The Task Force proposal has to be approved by the Steering Group during early October. After this approval, the Task Force will start writing a first draft of the SIP, including concrete activities related to the full set of priorities.

The Task Force reports to the EIP’s High-level Steering Group which provides strategic guidance for the development of the SIP. The SIP document should be finished by the end of November and approved by the Steering Group before the end of this year.

Background
The background to the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) on Water is outlined in the European Commission Communication of May 2012. The EIP will be a tool to support the Blueprint to safeguard Europe's water resources, which will be presented by the Commission in November 2012 as the water milestone of the European Commission’s Resource Efficiency roadmap.

For more information on SusChem activities in the water sector contact Antonia Morales Perez, Innovation Manager at Cefic.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

French go Dutch in Lyon

In early September the Dutch Top Chemistry sector was the guest of the French ‘pôle de compétitivité’ Axelera in Lyon. Axelera is a French innovation cluster for companies and knowledge institutes in the field of sustainable chemistry. This first example of Axelera's ‘International Thursday’ event welcomed representatives from the Netherlands and Belgium with a particular interest in the biobased economy. The meeting was facilitated by the SusChem national platforms in France and the Netherlands and held at the prestigious Hôtel de Région Rhône-Alpes Confluences on 6 September.

The event was introduced by Jean-Jack Queyranne, President of the Rhône-Alpes region, while Jean-Louis Gagnaire, Vice President of Economic Development, Industry and SMEs, concluded the plenary session focusing on the anticipated role of the Axelera cluster in the creation of economic value, especially for SMEs.

The Netherlands chemistry sector was represented by Janneke Carpenter from the Dutch government and co-secretary of the Dutch ‘Chemistry Top Sector’ team. She presented the Dutch top sector policy, the top sector chemistry and in particular the country’s ambitions for the Biobased Economy.

SusChem management team member Nelo Emerencia from VNCI is the other co-secretary of the Dutch top team chemistry and he presented the vision from the chemical industry viewpoint.

Jean-Marie Bassett, business development manager at TNO presented on sustainable process and Green Chemistry activities, while Andreas ten Cate of the Institute for Sustainable Process Technology (ISPT) presented the work of this public-private research institute whose activities are closely linked to those of Axelera.

Research centre
Prior to the presentation the Dutch team visited to the joint CNRS/ Rhodia research centre where they saw work on innovation in the fields of process and material technology.

The cluster Axelera focuses on eight markets and presented its current interests in areas such as Clean Processes, Water, Air, Soils and Agri-Agro, Sustainable Buildings, Bio-Resources, Materials, Recycling and Waste, Transportation, Renewable Energies, and Electronics.

A speed dating session worked very smoothly and helped to establish some useful individual contacts.

Both sides hope that this initial ‘International Thursday’ event will lead to the beginning of more intense regular collaboration between France and the Netherlands on sustainable chemistry activities.