Saturday, 22 February 2014

Raw Materials launch University Days, KIC

The European Commission has recently launched a communication campaign entitled ''Raw Materials University Day'' within the framework of the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) on Raw Materials. In addition the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) has launched a selection process on February 14 to set up a new Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs), with partners from higher education, research and business in the area of raw materials.

One of the main challenges to the successful implementation of the EIP on Raw Materials is to communicate on the challenges and issues around the sustainable supply of raw materials to various audiences. Although Europe boasts many universities with a long tradition and excellent programmes in the raw materials sector, knowledgeable and skilled professionals are still highly in demand. Therefore, the European Commission wishes to promote skills and employment in the raw materials sector to boost competitiveness and sustainable growth while showing the huge potential of European raw materials research, development an innovation.

The aim of the Raw Materials University Day is to attract young people that are choosing what to study in further education or future graduates and inform them about the study and working opportunities in the raw materials sector.

A series of events in various Member States is planned, with University Days scheduled for four times per year between 2014 and 2020. To date 21 universities from 16 Member States have expressed their wish to take part. The next event will take place on 12 May 2014 in Darmstadt, Germany.

Speakers sought
The European Commission is seeking people from industry, research organisations and academia who are willing to participate in these events either as a speaker or in the event workshops. The purpose of the workshops, which usually take place in the afternoon, is to give students an opportunity to come closer to their future employers, and get a clearer picture of the working environment in the field of raw materials. In parallel an exhibition might be organised, where participating organisations could promote their activities.

Below is a video ''Raw Materials – the stuff that dreams are made of'', which was shown by European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani at the initial University Day event at Sapienza University in Rome on 6 December.

Vice-President Tajani said at the event in Rome: "Innovation in raw materials – be it in mining, processing, recycling, or substitution – holds the key to future growth and jobs. We need our young people to take up the challenge help to create a sustainable supply and use of raw materials in the EU".

For more information on the University Days events, the point of contact at the European Commission is Marcela Válková. The video is also available GermanFrenchSpanishPolish and Italian.

Raw materials KIC
The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) launched a selection process on February 14 to set up two new Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs), with partners from higher education, research and business. One of the two KICs will focus on raw materials – sustainable exploration, extraction processing, recycling and substitution. The application process is open until 10 September.

"This is the first step in our expansion of the EIT, with five new KICs planned over the next seven years. We're looking for great innovators and entrepreneurs with the drive to tackle concrete challenges and deliver results. I hope that many organisations will respond to this call and join us in this exciting journey," said Androulla Vassiliou, the European Commissioner responsible for the EIT.

Following an independent evaluation of the proposals, guided by specific selection criteria, one KIC in each field will be designated.

The KICs are autonomous public-private partnerships which bring together top-class higher education institutions, research centres, companies and other organisations committed to tackling societal challenges through, among other means, the development of products, services and processes.

The partnership for the new KICs must consist of at least three organisations, established in at least three different EU Member States. It must include at least one higher education institution and one private company.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Barriers and bottlenecks to water innovation

What is hindering the development and uptake of innovations in the water sector? Do legal, technical and political barriers and bottlenecks exist? And how can they be addressed? These issues are tackled in a report just published (13 February) on the EIP Water website that was produced by an ad-hoc group of the EIP Water Task Force led by SusChem, the European Water Platform (WssTP) and an Industry Expert Group.

The findings of the report were presented to a meeting of the High Level Steering Group (HLSG) of the EIP Water on December 6 in Brussels, including European Commissioners Potocnik and Geoghegan-Quinn, by SusChem board member Gernot Klotz.. 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.

The ad-hoc group has analysed and prioritised the barriers and bottlenecks to non-technological innovation in the water sector in Europe and abroad. Priority action topics have been identified, and roadmaps for each will be drafted and agreed upon by April 2014. The actions identified include:
  • development of fit-for-purpose financial instruments (e.g. revolving funds)
  • the establishment of an EU-wide coherent regulatory landscape
  • a structured EU coherent approach for Public-Public and Public-Private Partnerships which should also target international export markets
  • improvement in  public and investor confidence by showcases and demonstration sites.
The report is now available from the EIP Water Marketplace. To download the report you will need to be registered with the site.

Breaking barriers
“Technological barriers and bottlenecks for water-related topics are tackled through the Research and Innovation programmes, such as Horizon 2020, and this is why the current report focuses on the identification of non-technological barriers,” said Antonia Morales Perez, Innovation Manager at Cefic and SusChem lead on water issues. “To remove or mitigate these barriers needs the cooperation of different stakeholders such as Member States, the European Commission, the European Parliament and Council, as well as the Water sector, Industry, Agriculture sectors and Academia.”

Among the intervention measures proposed in the report, there is a clear priority to establish an EU-wide coherent regulatory landscape that can facilitate the introduction of new technologies to the market, thereby creating the required critical mass to launch them in a competitive way.

The creation of a portfolio of “Showcases” for innovation will help to improve the confidence of public authorities, citizens and investors by demonstrating the added value of innovations in water (both technological and non-technological) and can also be utilized to replicate solutions in other locations both within and outside Europe. In addition new financing mechanisms, which facilitate innovation implementation, including dedicated models for SMEs will be pioneered.

SusChem has been highly engaged in the preparation of the report, together with the EIP Secretariat, and the platform will keep working on the preparation of the roadmaps that are to be developed for each intervention measure and will discussed in the next EIP Water Task Force meeting on April 3.

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

Friday, 14 February 2014

Join the Innovation Debate at the Innovation Convention 2014

European Commission President José Manuel Barroso will host the second EU Innovation Convention in Brussels on March 10 and 11. Already established as Europe’s leading innovation event, the Convention will bring together a unique gathering of world-class visionaries and innovators, including CEOs from some of Europe's top companies, young innovators and net-entrepreneurs, such as the founders of Prezi and Storify. And, of course SusChem and Cefic will be represented.

The Innovation Convention will explore innovation in all its facets and cover a variety of themes. The convention's programme can be accessed here. More than 2000 visitors are expected to attend the event to hear a range of speakers including: the CEOs of Telefonica, Jaguar Landrover, Airbus, Bayer, Nokia, Safran Group and Sanofi Aventis, Nobel Prize winner Serge Haroche, Professor Athene Donald from Cambridge and Lord Patten of Oxford, amongst many others.

You can watch the promotional video for the event below.

Innovation messages
SusChem board member and Executive Director Research and Innovation at Cefic Gernot Klotz will be taking part in a fringe meeting as part of the Convention on the afternoon of 10 March. The session organised by the Lithuanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2013 and Knowledge4Innovation (K4I) will look at 'Key Innovation Messages from 2013' and follow up the results of the Vilnius Innovation Forum and the Fifth European Innovation Summit.

A main outcome of the Fifth European Innovation Summit was “Five Calls for Action to wake up Europe and make innovation happen." The participants of the Vilnius Innovation Forum focused on “Innovation Drift” and agreed a declaration containing ten principles for shaping European innovation policy. The declaration emphasizes the importance for Member States to continue to increase investments in research and innovation. European countries must also continue to work to create a common and vibrant European Innovation Ecosystem. In addition investment, both public and private, in research and innovation fosters productivity and growth and is a key for job creation. The declaration was delivered to European Commission.

As well as Gernot Klotz speakers at the session will include Lambert van Nistelrooij, MEP, Chairman of the Knowledge4innovation Forum Governing Board.

The Convention has a very varied associated fringe programme - more details can be found here.

More information
To join the innovation debate you can register for free on the event website. And you can also follow the Innovation Convention on twitter and comment using the hashtag #EUIC2014.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Save the Date: SusChem's 10th Anniversary Celebration

This year SusChem will be celebrating its 10th anniversary. And to mark a decade of sustainable chemistry research and innovation leadership in Europe the 12th SusChem Stakeholder Event will be extra special! Our 10 year anniversary celebration will take place over two days in Brussels: 11 and 12 June 2014.

The theme of the 10-year celebration is: 'Sustainable Chemistry: Always at the Forefront of Innovation.' At the event we will be looking for SusChem stakeholders to contribute to defining our new Strategic Research Innovation Agenda for the next decade and we will be celebrating SusChem successes stories from the past ten years.

Ten years of success
The SusChem European Technology Platform was officially launched in Brussels on 6 July, 2004 by the European Commission, together with Cefic and EuropaBio, with the aim to "increase the attractiveness of investments in chemical R&D and innovation in Europe."

“Research is the primary source of innovation in the knowledge-intensive chemical industry and is driving the sector forward,” said European Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin at the launch. “The European chemical industry has an impressive track record of developing new products and manufacturing processes, but the challenge is to improve the transformation of laboratory ideas into new sustainable products and services to boost EU competitiveness.”

Save the date
This special SusChem Stakeholder event takes place on 11 -12 June at the Renaissance Hotel in Brussels. Join us in celebrating this important occasion for SusChem and sustainable chemistry in Europe, and help to pave the way forward for future SusChem success!

More details will be available soon and registration for the event will open on Monday 24 March via the SusChem website.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Don’t Waste Waste

The next phase of the European Commission's 'Generation Awake' campaign has just been launched (4 February). The campaign focuses on the environmental, economic, social and personal consequences of using resources unsustainably. With its own focus on resource efficiency and enabling the circular economy the SPIRE PPP is a big supporter of the campaign

The ‘Generation Awake’ campaign aims to make consumers aware of the consequences their consumption patterns have on natural resources, illustrating the benefits if they choose to act differently.

The latest phase in the campaign centres round a fully interactive, multi-lingual website and features animated characters that highlight the environmental impact of everyday purchasing decisions (see video below).

“SPIRE is proud to support the ‘Generation Awake’ campaign,” said Loredana Ghinea, Executive Director of A.SPIRE – the body coordinating the SPIRE PPP. “The campaign emphasises that all our futures depend on the choices we make about resources now. The SPIRE PPP is all about improving energy and resource efficiency within industry and through that for our entire society. And individual choices are as important as those made by corporations and institutions. Only through a united effort can be we reach our sustainability objectives.”

Resourceful Campaign
The Generation Awake campaign makes it clear that the choices you make individually can make a world of difference. The campaign is all about opening people’s eyes to the consumer choices they make and the consequences these have on the earth’s natural resources. By engaging with Generation Awake, citizens become more aware that these choices not only change their world, but our planet too.

Our future depends on how we use resources now and the campaign highlights the impact of our behaviour on natural resources such as water, fertile soils, clean air and biodiversity: as resources become scarcer, we put our future welfare at risk.

The multi-billion Sustainable Process Industry Public-Private Partnership (SPIRE PPP),  which was officially launched on 17 December as part of the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation initiative, brings together eight European process industries and aims at integrating, demonstrating and validating systems and technologies across sectors.

SPIRE will achieve its goals by investing in breakthrough technologies to reduce the resources and energy used in processes as well as minimising industrial emissions and waste. The PPP will reuse resources and materials from end-of-life products to provide raw materials for new products and will replace current feedstock by integrating renewables or waste - for example biomass and even CO2.

Resource efficiency
“Resource efficiency is about using resources sustainably – doing more, much more, with less and minimising impacts on the environment,” continues Loredana (pictured right). “It is about making the right choices to ensure a good quality of life, not just for now, but for the generations to come. The SPIRE strategic research and innovation roadmap to 2030 dedicates one of its four technological pillars to waste. The process industry is central to transforming waste into a valuable resource not only at a product’s end-of-life phase but, especially, during the production process itself and across industrial sectors.”

“Becoming resource-efficient means changing our way of thinking and patterns of behaviour and taking account of how our choices affect natural resources. It’s not about consuming less – it’s about consuming differently,” she concludes.

Despite EU-wide recycling targets and successes in certain areas, Europe's waste is still a hugely under-used resource. A study prepared for the Commission estimates that full implementation of EU waste legislation would save €72 billion a year, increase the annual turnover of the EU waste management and recycling sector by € 42 billion, and create over 400 000 new jobs by 2020.

The Generation Awake website invites visitors to discover the value of waste, showing how it can be reused, recycled, exchanged and repaired rather than being thrown away. A related Facebook page invites citizens to take up challenges like reducing food waste and cutting water use. Anyone can join in, and everyone is encouraged to spread the message: waste which cannot be avoided can become a valuable resource, and saving resources means saving money.

Serious message
Behind the light-hearted campaign is a serious message: waste often contains valuable materials that can be reintroduced into the economic system. Today, a significant amount of potential secondary raw material is lost to the European Union's economy due to poor waste management. On average the amount of waste produced each year is equivalent to five tonnes per citizen.

By reducing, reusing and recycling waste we can all contribute to a vibrant economy and a healthy environment. This saves environmental and economic resources, helping push Europe towards a more circular economy, where we get the greatest value out of resources and products by repairing, re-using, re-manufacturing and recycling them.

The campaign targets 25-to 40-year-olds with a special focus on young urban adults and families with small children. Since its launch in October 2011, the campaign website has been visited over 750 000 times, the videos have been viewed by over 4.5 million people, and the Facebook page has attracted close to 100 000 fans.

This new phase of the campaign includes a photo competition for suggestions on turning rubbish into a resource. The winner will be awarded a trip to Copenhagen, the European Green Capital 2014.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

SusChem Horizon 2020 Brokerage Success

The SusChem Brokerage event on 31 January was a great success with around 200 participants actively building useful projects and consortia to respond to the first calls in Horizon 2020.

The event was introduced by Jacques Komornicki and Padraig Naughton from Cefic before Soren Bowadt (below) of the European Commission kicked of the presentations with a description of the concepts behind the Industrial Technology calls in Horizon 2020. He called on participants to “use the calls wisely” describing Horizon 2020 as a “once in a lifetime opportunity” and a chance to induce a real “paradigm shift for sectors in Europe like the process industries.”

He praised the results that had come from SusChem inspired ‘lighthouse projects’ during previous research framework programmes (FP7 and FP6) including the F3 factory and COPIRIDE projects.

Soren concluded with some tips for submission of projects including the concept of pre-registering project proposals prior to the submission deadline as this give the project some visibility within the Commission and therefore time for them to find appropriate independent experts to assess the project’s viability and impact. And, of course, not to be late in submitting the proposal – the call deadlines were fixed and not negotiable.

The first full session in the morning saw some eight existing project proposals presented who were looking for one or more additional partners. These ranged from projects on gasification technology for energy intensive users to process analytical concepts and sodium ion battery development.

There then followed nine brand new project idea proposals including biobased automotive adhesives, novel chemical reactor design and an interesting project on biobased aromatic chemicals from sugars or cellulose.

Top proposal tip
Just before a networking lunch Pablo Tello of PNO Consultants (below) gave some entertaining insights of his experience helping many projects to write their proposals. He gave many practical hints and tips, but his single most important tip was: “to ensure you grab the interest of the evaluator in first page of the proposal.”

In a short question and answer session before lunch Soren Bowadt reminded participants that under Horizon 2020 proposals needed to be fully complete. Unlike FP7 there would not be extended negotiation between project evaluation and grant. This meant that “If something is missing [in a proposal] then it is out!” He also underlined that the first page of the proposal was essential

The afternoon saw a great buzz of networking, speed-dating and individual consortia meetings. A poster exposition enabled additional stakeholders to showcase their project proposals to potential partners.

The event also saw the trial of the Evenium ConnexMe system. All registered participants had received a web address to this dynamic tool that aimed to link participants during the day and could enable networking and individual meeting/ speed dating arrangements. The system could also stream of the presentations in real time and allow participants to go back and review slides during a presentation. In addition, of course, the normal human-based meeting facilitation was also in place.

During the meeting 128 users registered with the system, 98 meetings were arranged using the virtual system and 1013 private messages were made in addition to those made through the conventional 'manual ' system.

Wrapping up the event Jacques Komornicki urged participants to make full use of the Grant-it facility (see below) to assist project preparation and to return the feedback survey on the event so that the SusChem secretariat could analyse how things had gone. You can also access the feedback survey here if you didn't have time to fill it in on the day.

Jacques also gave advance notice of the twelfth SusChem Stakeholder Event that will take place on 11 and 12 June at the Brussels Renaissance Hotel. The main topic of the event will be ‘The SusChem Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda Towards 2020 and Beyond’ and will celebrate ten years of SusChem success for sustainable chemistry.

The plenary presentations made by Jacques, Padraig, Soren and Pablo can be accessed via links on their names above. Information on all the projects presented at the brokerage can be accessed via the Grant-it web portal.

Launched in December 2013, the Grant-it portal 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 in the field of sustainable chemistry.

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.

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. Find out more about Grant-it here.

Monday, 3 February 2014

New Deadline for Material Commitments

Following some technical issues, stakeholders in the European raw materials value chain have a few more days to submit commitment proposals on the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) on Raw Materials. The deadline for submission is now Friday 7 February.

To be successful, the EIP on Raw Materials needs to involve a large number of partners across the European Union and the entire raw materials value chain to carry out actions that contribute to its objectives. This is why the European Commission has launched an open call for commitments by actors in the private, public and non-governmental sectors including academia.

The call aims to trigger a number of individual commitments (referred to as Raw Material Commitments – RMCs) where the partners jointly commit to co-operate and take actions that can help achieve the objectives of the EIP’s Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP). The full SIP consists of two parts: Part 1 and Part 2.

What is a Raw Materials Commitment?
A commitment is a joint undertaking by several partners, who commit to carrying out activities that will contribute to achieving the EIP's objectives within the period 2014-2020. Commitments must aim at achieving one or more innovations (either directly or indirectly) and bring them to the market, such as new products, processes, services, technologies, business models or ideas that can be brought to the market. A commitment may also aim at bringing wider societal benefits through innovation.

The EIP on Raw Materials aims to improve the security of supply and the efficient and sustainable management of non-energy, non-agricultural raw materials. The EIP’s SIP proposes a range of actions necessary to achieve its objectives and targets including research and innovation along the value chain, raw materials knowledge, best practise, revision of selected legislation, standardisation, and policy dialogues.

To achieve these objectives, the European Commission will publish a Call for Commitments to Member States, industry, academia and other relevant stakeholder every two years until 2020.

EIP objectives
The EIP on Raw Materials has a number of specific objectives:

  • to reduce the EU's dependency on imports of raw materials
  • to promote production and exports by improving supply conditions from within and outside the EU, and by providing resource efficiency and alternatives in supply
  • to bring Europe to the forefront in the raw materials sector, whilst mitigating the sector’s negative environmental, social and health impacts.

The raw materials that the EIP targets are vital inputs for innovative technologies and offer environmentally-friendly, clean-technology applications. They are also essential for the manufacture of new and innovative products required by our modern society, such as batteries for electric cars, photovoltaic systems and devices for wind turbines.