Friday, 24 January 2014

National Technology Platforms, Horizon 2020 contacts

SusChem National Technology Platforms (NTPs) help to connect SusChem thinking with national and regional programmes, to facilitate trans-national collaboration and to advise SusChem on national priorities and programmes. SusChem NTPs are key to the involvement of national stakeholders including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), large companies and academic groups, in our European initiatives.

The SusChem network, formed by the European and the National Platforms, aims to capitalize on the synergies of its members to reach the critical mass to achieve its goals at European and National level, while avoiding duplication of efforts.

Currently, SusChem NTPs have been created in 12 countries and the NTP page on the main SusChem website has now been updated to include links to all national websites (where they are established) and the latest email details for principal contacts for each of our national platforms.

Common objectives
The common objectives and mutual benefits of SusChem ETP and SusChem NTPs include:

  • Working under the common label of "sustainable chemistry”
  • Bringing together industry, academia, civil society and national governments to address European societal challenges and improve industry competitiveness
  • Contributing to a EU-wide common strategy to support the position of the Chemical sector with the European Commission ("bottom-up” approach)
  • Aligning priorities of ETP and NTPs in order to gain broader support (a complementary "top-down” activity)
  • Promoting SusChem vision and main priorities at both EU and National level (complementary perspective)
  • Facilitating trans-national collaboration within research and innovation projects and the international transmission of skills
  • Facilitating networking, cluster creation, project teams, etc. to enhance participation in EU funding programmes, especially for SMEs

Horizon 2020 - national contacts, reorganisation
Liaising with national contact points for Horizon 2020 is also an important role for NTPs and the Commission has published a calendar of national launch events for Horizon 2020 that also includes a list of the national websites for national contacts. This website will be updated throughout the duration of Horizon 2020 the Commission promise.

As the Horizon 2020 research programme gets underway, the European Commission is starting to reorganise DG Research and Innovation to boost its efficiency in managing grants and to make more time for policy planning.

In a recent interview for Science|Business Robert-Jan Smits, Director-General for Research and Innovation (above), said he is introducing radical simplification, moving to a trust-based approach in the management of projects, avoiding micro-management by the Commission, and separating the machinery of grant management from the policy making activities.

Of the eleven directorates within DG Research, three are being reinforced: Directorate A - for Policy Development and Coordination; Directorate B - for Innovation Union and the European Research Area; and Directorate C for International Cooperation. In addition, the policy units in the Directorates dealing with the Grand Societal Challenges are to be strengthened since they define the multi-annual work programmes and content of the calls.

“The idea is that we are going to focus much more on policy issues like the Innovation Union, with its initiatives to create a unitary patent, speed up standardisation and develop innovative public procurement; and on the completion of the European Research Area, which includes measures to abolish barriers to the mobility of researchers, a full roll out of open access to publications and open recruitment in universities,” Smits said in the interview.

D-G Research currently has around 1800 staff. This core staff will shrink substantially (by one third by 2020) with those staff remaining focusing on policy issues rather than grant administration. Four new executive agencies will focus on administering the programmes and are:

As the agencies will also be handling programmes from other parts of the Commission, a Common Support Centre (CSC) has also been set up to ensure a coherent interpretation of rules and procedures across Horizon 2020. The CSC will be located within DG Research and Innovation.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Second CRM_InnoNet Innovation Network Workshop

The FP7 CRM_InnoNet project is organizing its second Innovation Network Workshop in the field of substitution of critical raw materials on 14 May 2014 in Brussels. The workshop will take a special focus on strategic sectors such as Energy, Transport and ICT with the key speakers from each sector as well as participatory activities. The project has also recently published reports analysing the ICT and energy sector and assessing the substitution potential for the 14 materials listed as Critical Raw Materials by the European Commission. 

The event, which takes place at the Diamant Conference and Business Centre in Brussels, is free to attend and is open for all stakeholders who are involved in any part of the Critical Raw Materials value chain and are willing to exchange ideas and visions for enhancing the competitiveness of the European Union’s research and development and innovation (R&D&I), its industry and economy in the area of substitution of Critical Raw Materials.

Further information on registration and other arrangements will be available soon. The project can also support some travel costs for attendees from SMEs. Please visit CRM_InnoNet website for more information.

Information and speaker presentations from the network’s first Innovation workshop held on 15 April 2013 in Brussels can be found here. This first event was attended by more than by 120 delegates representing 87 organisations inside and outside the European Union.

Critical reports
The full CRM_InnoNet project team of 18 partners recently met in Runcorn, UK for an interim meeting (see team photo below). The project has spent the last year completing comprehensive bottom-up and top-down mapping of critical raw materials usage in Europe.

Three reports from this analysis are now available for download:

The third report on Raw Materials profiles is a detailed assessment of the substitutability of the European Commission’s list of 14 Critical raw Materials (the EU -14) in their end use applications.  This report is currently open for consultation, so if you have any feedback on any aspect of the report, please contact the CRM_InnoNet secretariat.

The project is now embarking on its next phase: writing the roadmaps for substitution of critical raw materials in Europe. These are plenty of opportunities to input into these roadmaps including the Innovation Network workshop on 14 May.

What is CRM_InnoNet?
The project is a Coordination and Support Action (CSA) funded under FP7 that is creating an integrated community to drive innovation in the field of critical raw material substitution for the benefit of EU industry.

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 European Research Area.

More information
For more information visit the CRM_InnoNet website that includes a blog, news and events, or the contact project secretariat at CIKTN.

Friday, 17 January 2014

SusChem Spain enabling the Circular Economy

Under the motto ‘Enabling circular economy’, the SusChem España national technology platform is organising the third edition of the Forum Sustainable Chemistry, innovative and competitive companies (3SCICC Forum Sustainable Chemistry), an international meeting aimed to debate and share information on new chemical products and processes that are more efficient, safe and environmentally friendly. This major event takes place in Tarragona, Spain on May 28 and 29. Tarragona is home to the largest chemical cluster in the Mediterranean and Southern Europe.

3SCICC Forum Sustainable Chemistry is sponsored by the Spanish Chemical Industry Federation (FEIQUE) and Expoquimia – the International Chemistry Event of Fira de Barcelona together with industrial sponsors Dow Chemicals and Emerson Process Management.

SusChem chairman Dr Klaus Sommer of Bayer and board member Gernot Klotz of Cefic will be presenting at the meeting. More details of the programme can be accessed here.

The Circular Economy is an economic model that finds ways to reuse products and components and restore their material and energy inputs. And sustainable chemistry innovation provides the fundamentals for making it possible.

A Circular Economy is an industrial system replaces the ‘end-of-life’ concept with restoration and aims for the elimination of waste through the superior design of materials, products and systems, facilitating component separation and making it feasible for manufacturers to collect, re-manufacture and re-distribute their products, thus generating a circular, cradle-to-cradle system.

Circular Economy has an increasing number of supporters as the essential model needed to face the economic, social and resource challenges of the 21st century. The European Commission has chosen to move to this restorative economic system as part of its strategy for Europe 2020, as it drives substantial and lasting improvements in resource productivity. Sustainable chemistry and engineering innovation provides the fundamental basis that can enable the circular economy (new materials, new production systems, sustainable water management etc.).

Raw materials
Critical Raw Materials reducing, reusing, recycling or substitution; state-of-art and new trends in biobased products and biorefineries; new trends and challenges in process optimization or different ways for by-product valorization, are among the topics to be discussed at the 3SCICC Forum Sustainable Chemistry. Cities and industry symbiosis and the solutions chemistry provides to make this possible will also be addressed.

The day before the conference, May 27, will see the opportunity to visit a variety of industrial facilities and research centres in the Tarragona area to see the exciting sustainable chemistry taking place there.

For more information and registration details visit the 3SCICC Forum Sustainable Chemistry website.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Grant-it: your portal to EU funding schemes

Launched on 17 December, the Grant-it portal was an early Christmas present from SusChem to the European sustainable chemistry community. Grant-it is your ‘one-stop’ shop for information and project building tools for Horizon 2020 and a range of other financing initiatives for collaborative research and innovation projects in Europe.

“During FP7, SusChem initiated and inspired sustainable chemistry projects with a total funding in excess of € 1 billion,” says Jacques Komornicki, SusChem coordinator and Innovation Manager at Cefic. “We have used this experience and expertise to shape the new Grant-it portal to enable SusChem stakeholders to successfully engage with the new opportunities presented by Horizon 2020.”

“The Grant-it website is your ‘one-stop’ access to funding opportunities from the European Commission and from selected national and regional governments in the field of sustainable chemistry,” agrees Pádraig Naughton, Innovation Manager at Cefic, who was heavily involved with the development of the site. “Using Grant-it you can search for funding opportunities, search for and identify project opportunities, propose project ideas, and search for potential project partners. The system also allows searches of past funded EU projects including FP5 to FP7 and other initiatives.”

Grant-it is a password protected free service offered by Cefic to its members and SusChem stakeholders to further boost industry participation in collaborative research and innovation activities.

“SusChem members can log-in with their SusChem username and password,” says Jacques. “While Cefic members can log-in with their click-in username and password.”

Cloud concept
Grant-it is based on the cloud-concept of sharing innovation knowledge, projects and funding between stakeholders in Europe and has been specially developed by Cefic for the SusChem community working with PNO Consultants and its software partner Innovation Engineering.

Grant-it includes a number of dedicated features, such as specially selected Horizon 2020 funding topics that are particularly relevant for the SusChem community.

Experts from CEFIC and PNO screen all relevant project calls that come in and provide support to consortia to further promote participation in EU programmes through partner search and project feedback on request.

“In addition, there are some unique search features that enable users to search on key words across European programmes,” says Ron Weerdmeester of PNO. “This not only covers Horizon 2020, but also covers programmes such as LIFE+, COSME etc, as well as national programmes in a number of LIFE+ countries.”

“Searches will return comprehensive summaries of the relevant grant programmes,” explains Ron. “Alternatively the system allows the user to directly do a free text search in the EU funding programme documents (i.e. the work programmes), quickly read the texts in these work programmes, and download the document of interest.”

“We will continue to improve the system,” says Ron. “And we invite the SusChem community to actively use the system for searching information and partners. The more it is used the better it will get!”

Since its launch the site has received some 17 new potential project ideas and Grant-it is growing in popularity as the web resource for EU funding information amongst SusChem stakeholders.

Prepare for Brokerage!
The SusChem Brokerage and Project Submission Workshop will take place on 31 January, but the deadline for registration is fast approaching: 20 January. Already more than one hundred participants have registered.

This important event takes place at the Sheraton Brussels Hotel, Place Rogier 3, Brussels and the draft agenda for the event is available here.

“The Brokerage event is the best occasion for SusChem stakeholders to present their Horizon 2020 project proposals,” says Pádraig. “And the ideal way to prepare for the event is to input your project proposal through the Grant-it website.”

Submitting a project idea is easy. Just log in with your SusChem username and password and click on ‘Propose a Project’ from the homepage. From there, you will be able to complete a submission form.

“Participants in the workshop will also have the opportunity to work with SusChem’s Innovation Managers and EU funding experts who can advise and guide them on how to further develop project consortia and proposals,” explains Jacques.

In addition the event will include a number of other unique features that will facilitate the development of projects and consortia perfectly suited to the Horizon 2020 calls:

  • A poster exposition that will enable stakeholders to showcase their project proposals to potential partners. A few places are still available if you want to promote your project or competences to the SusChem community
  • A ‘speed dating’ session to enable matching of potential project partners. 
  • A Workshop on Writing a Proposal led by experts in the field of European-financed research and innovation projects.

More information
A link and further information on how to enrol in the ‘speed dating session will be provided to registered workshop participants. If you would like more information on any aspect of the 31 January Brokerage event, including poster display, please contact the SusChem secretariat.

Friday, 10 January 2014

Innovative Financing for Innovative Water SMEs

On 24 January 2014, the European Water Platform (WssTP) and the European Regions Research and Innovation Network (ERRIN) are organising an information day on public funding opportunities for SMEs in the water sector. The session is also organised through the FINNOWATER Action Group of the European Innovation Partnership on Water (EIP Water).

This afternoon workshop entitled 'All you wanted to know about financing innovative SMEs but…' will start with a networking lunch at 12:30 and give a comprehensive overview of funding schemes available for SMEs in 2014. The event will be of interest to all stakeholders wishing to gain an understanding of the current funding opportunities. and takes place at the Netherlands Embassy in Brussels, Kortenberglaan 4-10, 1040 Brussels.

Funding opportunities addressed will include, amongst others EIB, Eco-ovation, Horizon 2020, the SME instrument COSME, Eurostars, Acqueau, crowdfunding, and business angels.

The event will be followed by a networking cocktail. The event may also be web-streamed for interested people that are not able to attend in person: this will be confirmed in the near future.

The EIP Water is strongly supporting this event and will include the outcomes in a practical guide for European water innovation funding opportunities which will be developed in the next few months.

For more information on the final programme for the workshop here and pre-registration can be found on the WssTP website.

Founded in 2001, ERRIN is a Brussels-based platform of regions dedicated to strengthening regional research and innovation capacities in Europe by exchanging information, sharing best practice, supporting project development, policy shaping and profile raising.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Water News Round-up

SusChem was involved in significant activity in the water sector towards the end of 2013. The first Annual Conference of the European Innovation Partnership on Water (EIP Water) took place in the European Parliament in Brussels at the end of November and a meeting of the High Level Steering Group (HLSG) convened in early December. SusChem has been deeply involved in discussions in this area: in particular in the task force to identify and remove barriers to innovation in the water sector.

The first annual conference of EIP Water was held on 21 November with over 500 registered participants. The event was opened by Marianne Wenning, Director Quality of Life, Water and Air at the European Commission DG Environment, who highlighted the importance of water, the current situation in the EU and the worldwide water market size estimated at around one trillion US$.

The role of the EIP Water is to overcome the water-related challenges that the EU faces, including technological aspects, water scarcity and droughts, and also (paradoxically) more frequent flooding – an issue that having a major impact on many European citizens.

In concluding remarks Commissioner Potocnik stated that: “The challenges [for the EIP Water] are numerous, maybe even daunting, but at the same time the opportunities are great and we cannot afford to miss them. Working together we will all be better prepared to face the challenges as well as to take advantage of the opportunities. The EIP Water is an excellent instrument to support this, bringing together all relevant professionals, initiatives and organizations around shared interests.”

Action groups
Earlier, Tomas Michel from the European Technology Platform on Water (WssTP) stated that EIPs accelerate research, development and market deployment of innovations that can tackle societal challenges and also boost the competitiveness of EU industries. He highlighted the importance of the water sector in Europe and its objective of becoming the global water technology leader by 2030.

The conference was an opportunity for the first nine Action Groups selected by the EIP to present their progress so far.

A second call for proposals for Action Groups is now underway. The EIP is looking for innovative concepts with commercial possibilities that offer solutions to the issues prioritized in the partnership’s Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP). The deadline for submission of proposals is 31 January 2014.

Innovation barriers
Following the annual conference, the HLSG of the EIP Water met on December 6 in Brussels with European Commissioners Potocnik and Geoghegan-Quinn opening the meeting.

Commissioner Potocnik reiterated the EU’s commitment to continuity for the EIP Water and supported the work of the Task Force producing the report on the barriers to innovation in the sector. He encouraged the EIP to move forward with the analysis of priority barriers and bottlenecks and the suggested intervention measures.

SusChem board member Gernot Klotz (above) presented this report to the HLSG. As well as identifying the main barriers and bottlenecks to innovation in the water sector, the report proposes and prioritizes a range of interventions to remove or mitigate them.

Some of the identified barriers are technological and others have non-technological aspects. For the technological barriers linking the EIP activities to the various available funding mechanisms will support progress to achieving commercialization of new solutions.

For the non-technological barriers a different approach is required, therefore the engagement of the European institutions, Member States and Regional authorities, together with users (including industry, agriculture and citizens) is crucial to achieve results.

Members of the report task force will participate in working groups to develop the action plan for each intervention measure that is identified. The draft work plan for this should be completed in February 2014.

Right links
Commissioner Geoghegan Quinn commented on the crucial role of Horizon 2020 and thanked the EIP council and stakeholders for their support for the programme. She thought that the activities under the EIP Water were a good model. In the last calls for FP7 around € 50 million had been provided to support demonstration activities and market uptake in the water sector.

“This support will continue in Horizon 2020,” she stated. The EIP Water will provide priorities to consider under Horizon 2020 where water is one of the focus areas in Societal Challenge 5: Climate Action, Environment, Resource Efficiency and Raw Materials. The EIP’s SIP will be a key driver in identifying priorities here. The Commissioner also highlighted strategic international cooperation opportunities (especially in China and India) that could be expanded to global markets.

The need for continuity of the EIP Water after 2014 was a main conclusion of the HLSG meeting. This continuation should be framed by Horizon 2020 and clear links to Horizon 2020 and other funding mechanisms, such as Life+ and Structural and Cohesion funds, would be welcomed.

For more information about SusChem and water issues please contact Antonia Morales Perez at Cefic.