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Thursday, 28 February 2013

Substitute Strategy

Ensuring that European industries can access Critical Raw Materials (CRM) is a major strategic objective for the EU political and economic agenda. The recently launched Critical Raw Materials Innovation Network (CRM_InnoNet) FP7 project will start to support this objective with the creation of a strategic innovation network for individuals and organizations working on the substitution of CRM at a workshop in Brussels on 15 April. The workshop will be a ‘must attend’ event for the CRM research and innovation community in Europe.

This first strategic workshop will launch the project ‘Innovation Network’ on Monday l5 April 2013 in Brussels. The new network will provide an identity and focus for researchers and businesses with an interest in substitution by drawing together a community which contains representatives from different disciplines and sectors with a focus on CRM substitution for the first time.

The workshop is being held at the Diamant Conference complex and is free to attend, however advance registration is required and places are limited. This event will be of interest to all stakeholders in the CRM substitution field.

The workshop will include a general panel discussion to allow all participants to engage in a dialogue about the structure and mission of the network. This will be followed by breakout sessions around strategic sectors such as Energy, Transport and ICT, as well as cross-cutting application areas to allow participants to exchange ideas about the challenges and opportunities in those sectors. The draft agenda and a flyer for the workshop can be accessed here.

What are CRM?
Key EU industrial sectors such as construction, chemicals, automotive, aerospace and machinery provide a total added value of €1 324 billion, employ some 30 million jobs and depend on access to CRM.

For example, rare earth elements are essential to industrial production, particularly for clean energy options such as wind turbines, solar cells, electric vehicles and energy-efficient lighting.

The relative scarcity of CRM, together with their economic importance, makes it necessary to explore new ideas and materials that could act as substitutes to reduce the EU’s consumption and decrease the relative dependence on imports of CRM. These new routes, in which sustainable chemistry must play a major role, can only be effectively explored and achieved if coherent collaborative initiatives are in place to coordinate the efforts of the main stakeholders across the CRM value chain in order to define clear goals, strategies and benefit from potential synergies.

SusChem and sustainable chemistry has a key role in developing and producing new and innovative materials for a huge range of value chains across Europe and is fully supporting the CRM_InnoNet project. The current review of the SusChem Materials technology Implementation Action Plan (IAP) will complement and feed into the project.

What is CRM_InnoNet?
Launched earlier this month, this FP7-funded project will act to create an integrated community to drive innovation in the field of critical raw material substitution for the benefit of EU industry.

CRM_InnoNet’s main goals are:
  • Mapping of CRM substitution initiatives - to deliver a ‘top down’ sector-based approach and a ‘bottom up’ raw materials-based approach map of on-going initiatives in the field of substitution of CRM at the EU and Member State level that will allow identification of key champions and synergies.
  • Prioritisation methodology - to develop a methodology to establish clear criteria for the prioritisation of applications which are at ‘threat’ and identify opportunities considering the technological and non-technological needs for substitution of CRM.
  •  Substitution Roadmap - to propose a roadmap for the substitution of CRM in coordination and cooperation with all stakeholders across the CRM substitution value chain while paying close attention to the specificities of critical industrial sectors as well as possible synergies. 
  • Pole(s) of Excellence - to create one or more Pole(s) of Excellence in the field of substitution of CRM that will ensure the relevance and usefulness of the project results and constitute a dynamic, open and proactive platform for the entire stakeholder community. To carry out a feasibility study considering the potential models and routes for this Pole(s) to continue after the project termination and decide upon concrete future actions in this respect.
  • Policy Recommendations - to prepare recommendations, future initiative ideas and suggested actions for policy makers with the widest possible endorsement and consensus of all stakeholders involved.
The European Innovation Partnership (EIP) on Raw Materials aims to play a major role in securing a sustainable supply of raw materials for Europe and has set itself an ambitious list of targets to achieve by 2020. CRM_InnoNet’s goals complement those of the EIP on Raw Materials and the project will seek to align its outputs with those of the EIP.

The CRM_InnoNet consortium is comprised of recognised and experienced key actors across the value chain of substitution of CRM representing academic, research and industry bodies of relevant sectors that will ensure a wide European coverage and high potential to engage other necessary players across the ERA.

More information?
For more information visit the CRM_InnoNet project website that includes a blog, news and events, down load the project flyer, or contact project coordinator Catherine Joce at CIKTN.

New KETs HLG to plan future EU industry Strategy

Yesterday (27 February) saw the first meeting of the new High Level Group (HLG) on Key Enabling Technologies (KETs) in Brussels. This second generation KET HLG is tasked with fostering the industrial deployment of KETs in Europe to keep pace with our main international competitors, restore growth, create jobs and help address today's major societal challenges. The chemical sector and its value chain partners are at the fore in the new HLG.

Wolfgang Plischke, Vice President of Cefic and Bayer Management Board member, will serve on the KETs HLG and Gernot Klotz, Executive Director Research & Innovation at Cefic will be active in the ‘associated ‘Sherpa’ group. The SusChem supported SPIRE PPP is also directly represented in the HLG by Markus Asch, President of EUnited with Lionel Platteuw, Executive Director of EUnited, participating in the Sherpa group.

The new KETs HLG met on 27 February in Brussels
The HLG was inaugurated by European Commission Vice-Presidents Antonio Tajani and Neelie Kroes as well as Commissioners Máire Geoghegan-Quinn and Johannes Hahn, reflecting the cross cutting influences on KETs on industry policy, the digital agenda, research, research, innovation and science, and regional policy.

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is also represented in the HLG by EIB Vice President Philippe de Fontaine Vive. At the 27 February meeting an agreement was signed between the Commission and EIB to pave the way for improved access to finance for KETs signalling that this was a priority investment area for Europe.

Cross sector innovation
The European chemical industry believes that cross-sectorial collaboration, like that driven by SusChem, will be one of the most robust ways to drive EU KETs development while ensuring their development and production are firmly based in Europe.

Partnerships should be at the heart of an overall European Commission KETs strategy because these technologies are effective at cutting across different industries, sectors and regions to unleash innovation in a more intelligent way across the value chain.

“Value chain collaboration is the best route to tackle pressing issues like the need for a low-carbon economy or healthy ageing,” said Gernot Klotz. “Those partnerships work well because they address the reality that one sector cannot do it alone, avoiding KETs being placed in silos.”

Opening the 27 February meeting Vice-President Antonio Tajani drew attention to the fact that the Commission had already adapted its policy instruments to promote the industrial deployment of KETs and that more coordination was now needed to prevent the departure of industry from Europe, as well as of the Europe's centres of excellence. He expressed his strong wish that the private sector and other actors represented in the HLG had to contribute to the successful deployment of KETs.

KETs are a main pillar of the forthcoming European Commission Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and at the HLG kick-off meeting Research Commissioner Marie Geoghegan-Quinn described the role of KETs in the programme. You can watch her summary in the video below.

KET chemistry
Four of the six KETs identified by the European Commission to strengthen EU industrial and innovation capacity are core businesses of the chemical sector: advanced materials, industrial biotechnology, nanotechnology and advanced manufacturing.

“If we want Europe to keep or gain a competitive edge, we have to act quickly now to deploy those enabling technologies, connect them with societal challenges and ensure that their production stays in Europe,” commented Gernot Klotz.

The chemicals sector enjoys a unique position in European industry as a value chain captain, engaging with finished-goods producers in Europe to deliver the latest materials and technologies that have a demonstrable use. The sector also benefits from a symbiotic network of small, medium and large companies that enable a wide range of innovative products and technologies.

Gernot Klotz concluded: “The European chemical industry is mobilized and committed to turning the KETs strategy for Europe into tangible solutions that create jobs and growth. To get there, we have to get investment and framework conditions right.”

What are KETs?
The KETs are six priority technologies - nanotechnology, micro and nano-electronics, photonics, advanced materials, industrial biotechnology and advanced manufacturing systems – that have been identified as important levers for innovation and competitiveness in Europe.

What will the HLG do?
The HLG will advise the European Commission on the implementation of the strategy to boost KETs in Europe. The scope of issues to be discussed by the HLG is broad and relates to:
  • Research and innovation aspects, 
  • Financial engineering mechanisms for KETs-projects, 
  • Cooperation of KETs value chain stakeholders, 
  • Trade and state aid related issues, 
  • Human capital & skills and
  • National and regional KETs policies. 
Following this first meeting of the KET HLG, its ‘Sherpa’ working group will meet on a twice-monthly basis to progress the work. The full HLG is scheduled to meet twice a year and will develop and implement the focus given to KETs in the new strategy on industrial policy announced last year. The HLG will advise the Commission and monitor progress in the development and deployment of KETs and will promote the development of KET policies in EU member states.

Who is in the HLG?
  • Technology providers for each of the six KETs 
  • Down-stream industry users to ensure that the KETs Strategy does translate to the production of KETs-based products 
  • Civil society representatives and cross-cutting KETs representatives: including trade unions, NGOs, local and regional authorities as well as the Skills and SME Community, the Research Community and the European Investment Bank; 
  • Public-Private-Partnerships (PPPs), e.g. Efficient Buildings, Factories of the Future, Green Cars and SPIRE.
For more information
European Commission June 2012 Communication on "A European Strategy for Key Enabling Technologies (KETs) – A bridge to growth and jobs". The report shows how KETS can be better used to give European industry the necessary boost to keep its technological leadership and to regain competitiveness.

To find out more on SusChem involvement with KETs visit our website or contact the SusChem secretariat.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

MatVal makes debut in Rome

MatVal, the new SusChem-supported FP7 project, was launched at a conference in Rome on 7 and 8 February. The two-year, €1.3 million project aims to integrate requirements, ideas and solutions in materials across sectors to create synergies and develop a truly coordinated and competitive materials R&D programme for Europe.

The Rome event brought together partners in the Alliance for Materials (A4M), policymakers, R&D experts, material manufacturers and end-users.

The first day set the scene with descriptions of the European materials research, development and innovation (R&D&I) landscape with a specific focus on the forthcoming Horizon 2020 programme.

Value chain
The value chain approach is a key element of the thinking behind MatVal. Working along value chains can drive synergistic benefits through a common path which integrates players, resources and strategies starting from fundamental aspects of materials science up to the industrial systems that turn materials into valuable products.

How SusChem will contribute to this value chain approach to materials R&D&I was presented by Jacques Komornicki, Innovation Manager at Cefic. Jacques described SusChem’s links with a portfolio of European research and innovation initiatives including the Key Enabling Technologies policy area, to European Innovation Partnerships (EIPs) on Water and Raw Materials, and Public-Private-Partnerships (PPPs) such as SPIRE and BRIDGE 2020: all of which require sustainable materials development input.

Jacques also outlined specific SusChem inputs to the MatVal programme. For work package two (Material Stakeholders) and work package four (Boosting Research) SusChem will be reviewing its own Materials Implementation Action Plan (IAP - see previous article) with a view to value chain application. As part of work package three (Common Elements between ETPs) and work package five (Boosting Innovation) SusChem’s involvement with EIPs and PPPs with major materials research agendas will be useful to identify potential synergies and key innovation elements. SusChem will also be leading the development of the Implementation Plan (work package six) with other MatVal stakeholders.

Next steps
The second day continued discussion on materials R&D&I issues along a number of value chains: energy, transport, construction, health and the creative sector. The conference concluded with presentations on the next steps for A4M and the MatVal project from Michal Basista, General Secretary of EuMat.

Outcomes for the project include the publication of an A4M strategic networking document describing a shared approach to future materials activities in Horizon 2020, conclusions on life cycle thinking and sustainable development issues, identification of critical standards and proposals for future regulations, work on a project exit strategy plan (looking at the continuing impact of the project beyond its endpoint) and the implementation road map itself.

Further workshops and conferences are envisaged including a workshop in horizontal innovation issue, a workshop on the strategic plan to boost research and a final project conference.

All the presentations and photographs from the conference are available here.

About MatVal
The MatVal project was initiated by the Alliance for Materials (A4M):  the grouping of European Technology Platforms (ETPs), including SusChem, that are working together to collaborate and coordinate their strong materials research and innovation agendas.

Through the A4M organization and the MatVal project Europe is now equipped with a multi-stakeholder forum to develop and share a single view on materials needs and accelerate the implementation of material innovations towards the end-user market applications. A4M is a new way of thinking: a partnership and networking initiative for materials research and innovation.

Get involved
The MatVal project is funded by the European Commission’s FP7 programme. Its full title is ‘Alliance for Materials – A Value Chain Approach to Materials Research and Innovation’. More basic information on the project can be found on the Cordis website.

For more information on SusChem and chemical industry involvement in MatVal and A4M, please contact SusChem Innovation Manager Jacques Komornicki at Cefic.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Register now for the 2013 SusChem Stakeholder Event!

Registration for the 2013 SusChem Stakeholder is now open. The event has the theme ‘Essential elements for EU Growth and Jobs: Innovative Materials and Processes’ and takes place on 14 – 15 May 2013 in Brussels. The meeting will primarily address the benefits of innovation partnerships and joint public-private initiatives to boost EU growth and improve competitiveness - and how SusChem and sustainable chemistry will play a role in this. Join us and get the latest insights!

The draft programme for the event is now available and the two days are packed with presentations, workshops and networking opportunities.

On the first day high level speakers form SusChem, the European Commission, the European Council and European Parliament will discuss the role of SusChem and European Technology Platforms in Horizon 2020, innovation and the new EU Industrial Policy, improving competitiveness and much more.

The second day includes parallel session on the European Innovation Partnerships (Water Efficiency, Raw Materials, Energy materials and Smart Cities) and the two Public-Private-Partnerships (SPIRE and BRIDGE 2020) that SusChem is involved with. Delegates will also be updated on progress in the SusChem ‘Educate to Innovate’ initiative.

Strategy in action
SusChem has evolved into a Europe-wide platform that captures the full benefit of Europe’s strengths in research and provides a well-connected network for innovation in the chemical and biotechnology value chain. As a result, its strategy has evolved too.

The new SusChem 2020 strategy retains research, innovation and education actions at the heart of our activities. These three activities are important to engage with policy makers and partner organizations to shape research and innovation policies and deliver truly sustainable innovation that creates value in and for European society.

To achieve its ambitious objectives, the platform’s partnership activities will also need to expand strategically. This means a substantial increase in multidisciplinary and cross-sector working along value chains. The new strategy is also designed to strengthen cooperation between SusChem Europe and our network of National Technology Platforms.

With this new strategy and its broad and growing stakeholder base, SusChem aims to ensure that research is effectively turned into innovative products and services that will shape Europe’s future.

Where and when?
Join us on 14 and 15 May at the SusChem Stakeholder Event in Brussels to see examples of the new strategy in action!

The event will take place at the Hotel Sofitel Europe on Place Jourdan in the heart of the European Quarter in Brussels.

For more information on SusChem activities, please contact the SusChem secretariat. Places are limited so you are advised to register as soon as possible!

Monday, 18 February 2013

Chemical industry committed to Raw Materials EIP

On 12 February, the High Level Steering Group (HLSG) of the new European Innovation Partnership(EIP) on Raw Materials held its first meeting in the European Commission’s Berlaymont building, Brussels. The EIP on Raw Materials is a major EU initiative that will work to ensure a sustainable supply of the critical raw materials that enable our modern efficient society as well as work to improve European industry's competitiveness and reduce European dependency on external supply of these materials. All these are critical elements for the continuing success of Europe’s industrial base – and an area where sustainable chemistry can make a big impact.

Three European commissioners (Vice-president and Commissioner for Enterprise Antonio Tajani, Commissioner for Research Marie Geoghegan-Quinn and Commissioner for the Environment Janez Potocnik) launched the EIP and stated the importance of this EIP for Europe’s long term competitiveness.

The partnership brings together stakeholders coming from industries, research centers, NGOs, political institutions and Member States representatives to help make Europe a world leader in raw materials exploration, extraction, processing, recycling and substitution by 2020. The EIP has some firm targets to be achieved by 2020 that will reduce Europe's dependency on imported raw materials, replace rare materials with substitutes and set up innovative pilot actions, such as pilot plants for exploration, mining, processing, collecting and recycling.

Raw materials are the lifeblood of EU industry and at least 30 million jobs in Europe depend on access to them.

Scope enlargement
Representing the Chemical industry in the High Level Steering group is Werner Furhmann, member of the Executive Board of AkzoNobel, Integrated Supply Chain, Specialty Chemicals. He is supported by Peter J. Nieuwenhuizen, Director of Future-proof Supply Chains, AkzoNobel, who acts in a sherpa role.

During this first meeting, Werner Furhmann proposed a broadening of the EIP’s scope to include materials such as ethylene-propylene, phosphates and titanium dioxide – all crucial for the competitiveness of European chemical production. Today, EU import dependency is around 90% for these materials (see Table below for comparable import dependencies for a range of materials).

Plan for action
A Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP) prepared by the EIP will be endorsed in mid-July by the HLSG. This plan will include the definition of priority areas on technology-focused policy areas in exploration, extraction, recycling and substitution; and non-technology policy areas such as regulatory framework, knowledge base, promotion of excellence in resource efficiency and public procurement. 

To ensure the outcomes of this European initiative have an international impact, the EIP will also engage in discussion with the USA, Japan, Canada and Australia.

Chemical Industry: EIP driver
Through a comprehensive and well-organized collaboration between its partners, the EIP aims to:
  • Reduce Europe’s import dependency on raw materials
  • Push Europe to the forefront of the raw materials sectors by 2020 (in exploration, extraction, processing, recycling and substitution
  • Provide alternatives for supply, and
  • Decrease negative environmental impacts.
To enable these objectives, the chemical sector will play a key role in developing innovative solutions in raw materials across the whole value chain. The chemical contribution will include:
  • New technologies replacing those relying on critical raw materials
  • New products design incorporating more efficient use of raw materials, easier recyclability and recovery (see Figure below for current recycle rates for 60 metals) or substitution for alternative products
  • New processes enabling efficient use of raw materials and recovery and raw materials re-use
  • More sustainable products for extraction and recycling of minerals, metals and other materials
  • Developing synergies and ensuring efficiency by bridging with other promising initiatives such as the proposed SPIRE Public PrivatePartnership, the EIP on Water to tackle water reuse and recycling, the CRM_InnoNet FP7 project on Critical Raw Materials Substitution, and the EU policy initiative on Key Enabling Technologies (KETs)
  • Engaging the networks of the European and Nationals Technology Platforms for Sustainable Chemistry (SusChem).
 Clearly chemistry has a critical role to play in the success of the Critical Raw Material EIP!

Friday, 15 February 2013

Help SusChem develop its Materials Technologies IAP!

SusChem is organizing its first workshop on Materials Technologies on 5 March 2013 within the frame of the technology platform’s new collaborative strategy. The strategy looks to enhance synergies between European value chains and fostering materials innovation is a key issue. Your input is vital!

The meeting will rejuvenate and reinvigorate the activities of the SusChem’s Materials Technologies Working Group. The meeting on March 5 2013 will be held in Brussels Sheraton Airport Hotel with discussions organized around three priority value chains: construction, transport and energy.

The SusChem Materials Technology Workshop has the objectives to update the SusChem Implementation Action Plan (IAP), identify the existing technology gaps within the IAP, and to connect the results with the main value chains on SusChem’s agenda including highlighting innovations that can have an impact across numerous value chains.

Strategy and partnership
In 2012, SusChem initiated a new inclusive and open innovation strategy in collaboration with other European Technology Platforms (ETPs) to improve synergies between European value chains. As a result, SusChem is now involved in many of the major European Innovation Partnerships (EIPs) such as water, raw materials, smart-cities and communities, and initiatives such as key enabling technologies (KETs), all with a specific focus on the needs of value chains. Aligned with this strategy, SusChem has also been active in the establishment of the SPIRE PPP and the EeB (Energy efficient Buildings) PPP proposals.

To support the development of roadmaps for these ambitious initiatives, SusChem is actively participating in selected Coordination Support Actions under the European Commission’s FP7 research programme including Building-Up (on Energy Efficient Buildings), R4R (preparing the ground for calls related to resource efficiency for SPIRE and other programmes), BIOCHEM and Bio-Tic (both related to bioeconomy issues), and ChemWater (working on water resource efficiency).

Material support
In 2010, SusChem published an up-dated IAP on materials technologies that covered materials research and innovation in several fields including construction, energy, transport, health, textiles and ICT. The IAP now requires a further review in the light of progress in research, changes in industry priorities and the business environment.

Clearly, materials technologies constitute a horizontal research and innovation theme that is intimately related to many different value chains. However, innovations in materials technologies are often, at least initially, developed independently of any value chain leading to delays in implementation and missed opportunities.

To help reconcile this situation, a new EU funded project has been launched: MatVal - a value chain approach to materials research and innovation. This project, which aims at identifying the common points of research and innovation between the main stakeholders involved with materials technologies, involves the major ETPs related to steel, textiles, advanced materials, sustainable chemistry and mineral resources.

To efficiently implement the SusChem materials agenda in the MatVal project, and convey our key messages on materials research and innovation to the European Commission’s DG Research and Innovation in the build up to Horizon 2020, SusChem needs your expertise and your insights! The workshop is the place to make your input.

Get involved!
Join this SusChem meeting and share your expertise and knowledge to enhance the materials of the future! To register your participation, or to obtain more information on the workshop, please get in touch with SusChem coordinator Jacques Komornicki at Cefic.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

European Materials Community Comes Together

Today (7 February) in Rome will see the launch of the first ever initiative to bring together the whole materials community in Europe. A new partnership and networking initiative for materials research and innovation is taking shape this week, as the MatVal project holds its launch meeting on 7 and 8 February in the Italian capital. The launch event, which gathers high-level policymakers, R&D experts, material developers, suppliers and end users from across Europe, is a fantastic opportunity to address major sectors such as energy, transport, health and construction. European research and innovation in materials is now a united effort!

In 2010, a group of European Technology Platforms (EuMaT, Textiles and Clothing, SusChem, Manufuture, Advanced Engineering Materials and Technologies, Steel Technology and Sustainable Mineral Resources) decided to join forces to link their strong materials research agendas and coordinate their activities in this area. This was an unprecedented move to improve the way materials innovations are being developed in Europe. The Alliance for Materials (A4M) was created.

With MatVal, an EU-funded project, A4M enters its implementation phase by creating the conditions for a significant enlargement of the network to include all sectors active along value chains. The project will bring together the relevant stakeholders from the European materials community for a real integration of voices and visions.

“Europe is now equipped with a multi-stakeholder forum to develop and share a single view on materials needs”, says Dr Marco Falzetti, A4M chairman and MatVal coordinator. "Our objective is to speed up the implementation of material innovations towards end-user market applications.”

Advanced materials will play a significant part in the development of future goods and services, and MatVal will ensure that key materials innovations are identified, supported and delivered to the market in a timely manner. “A4M is a new way of thinking”, Dr Falzetti continues. “This launch event marks major strides towards an integrated materials agenda in Europe”.

About MatVal
The MatVal project is funded via the European Commission’s FP7 research programme. The full project name is ‘Alliance for Materials – A value chain approach to materials research and innovation’. The project is coordinated by Centro Sviluppo Materiali SPA (CSM). A website for the project will be launched in the next few weeks.

The full list of MatVal partners is: