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.”
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.
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.
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.