Friday, 30 May 2014

Green Week 2014: SusChem working for the Circular Economy

Green Week is Europe’s biggest annual conference on environmental policy and takes place next week from 3 to 5 June in Brussels. Its themes for 2014 – the circular economy and resource efficiency – are topics where SusChem and its major European public private partnerships - the SPIRE PPP and the Biobased Industries JTI – are already taking a lead.

The 2014 edition of Green Week will take place at The Egg Conference Centre, Rue Bara, in Brussels. SusChem, SPIRE and the Biobased Industries JTI are all supporting initiatives that can deliver a working circular economy in Europe, improve resource and energy efficiency and reduce waste. SusChem representatives will be speaking during the Green Week conference.

SusChem fully supports the concept of a circular economy as one of the logical solutions for a resource-constrained world. In the circular economy almost nothing is wasted, the re-use and remanufacturing of products is standard practice, and sustainability is a core element in the fabric of society.

Delivering a circular economy
These elements of a circular economy are all concepts that SusChem has embraced since its formation in 2004 and has supported with practical research and innovation projects.

Current SusChem inspired projects funded under FP7 in this area include Chemical Regions for Resource Efficiency (R4R), the Critical Raw Materials Innovation Network (CRM_InnoNet), BIO-TIC. And SusChem is also very engaged with issues around reducing fresh water use by industry.

And, of course, the SPIRE PPP is all about dramatically increasing resource and energy efficiency across a wide range of process industries.

Our SusChem stakeholder event in mid June will discuss the priorities in our new 2014 SusChem Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda (SIRA). The SIRA will further outline our thinking in this area and the practical research and innovation activities that are required to turn the concepts of a circular society and radically improved resource efficiency into reality.

During 2014 the European Commission is setting out new proposals enabling Europe to unlock the potential of the circular economy, underlining the need to change our way of thinking about design. There will also be a focus on better waste management, and on how it can help the EU use its resources more efficiently. SusChem looks forward to working with the Commission to enable this potential to be fulfilled.

Spain starts early!
In fact for SusChem Green Week has already started with an official Green Week satellite event: The Third Forum on Sustainable Chemistry: Innovative and Competitive Companies (SCICC) that took place in Tarragona, Spain on 28 and 29 May. Tarragona is home to the largest chemical cluster in the Mediterranean and Southern Europe. The event was organised by SusChem Spain.

In line with the main themes of Green Week 2014, the Forum focused on the concept of the circular economy as an economic system based on reuse of resources, energy and resource efficiency – areas where the contribution of sustainable chemistry is essential.

Speakers in the opening plenary on Wednesday 28 May included SusChem board member Gernot Klotz of Cefic, who spoke on how the chemical industry is effectively supplying the roots for sustainable growth in Europe, and Lorenzo Valles of the European Commission who outlined the role that the SusChem inspired SPIRE PPP will be playing to deliver increased energy efficiency and sustainable resources.

Other sessions covered topics such as ‘efficiency and design’, ‘resource efficiency’, ‘energy efficiency and process intensification’, and ‘by-product valorisation’. This last session included presentations on the potential use of CO2 as a feedstock for the chemical industry.

The forum closed with some concluding remarks by SusChem Europe chairman Dr Klaus Sommer.

The main purpose of SCICC was to promote the debate and the sharing of knowledge on new processes and chemical products that are more efficient, safe and environmentally friendly and can form the basis of a truly circular economy. A great start to Green Week 2014!

Friday, 23 May 2014

SPIRE prepares for next Horizon 2020 calls

Over 140 participants attended today’s (23 May) SPIRE brokerage event in Brussels to start work on the next two calls for Horizon 2020 and get the first news on the results of the Public Private Partnership’s initial call under the new European Commission Research and Innovation Framework programme. Clearly SPIRE is already up and running in Horizon 2020 and helping boost energy and resource efficiency in Europe.

Ignacio Calleja (below) of Tecnalia and Chair of SPIRE’s R&D working group opened the event welcoming the delegates from A.SPIRE members and outlined the objectives of the meeting: in the morning to present project proposals for the next SPIRE Horizon 2020 calls for 2015 and in the afternoon to start collating ideas for the third wave of calls for 2016/2017

First experiences
Soren Bowadt (below) from the European Commission gave feedback on the evaluation exercise for the first SPIRE calls. The deadline for proposal submission had been 20 March and the evaluation process had concluded in early May.

For SPIRE’s four calls 72 proposals had been received of which 68 were deemed eligible. Of these 17 projects had been evaluated as being above the quality threshold for funding and 11 projects were on the ‘main list’ with the remaining 6 on a reserve list. Total European Commission funding for the 11 ‘main list’ proposals would amount to € 58.4 million. This represented a success rate of around 16% for submitted proposals under the four calls. Soren said that he was pleased with the number of submitted proposals, which compared well the PPPs established under FP7 such as Factory of the Future.

Looking at the individual SPIRE calls: SPIRE 01 2014 had 4 proposals on the main list, SPIRE 02 2014 had 3, SPIRE 03 2014 just 1 and SPIRE 04 2014 3 proposals (see details below).

Soren emphasised that it was vital that the 11 successful projects now responded rapidly to requests from the Commission for validation or more information. The successful projects would be publicly announced after 20 August.

Soren underlined that the evaluation process looks at ‘impact’, then ‘excellence’ then ‘SME budget’. The greater emphasis on impact in the evaluation was really important: proposals must focus on how society will benefit from the project rather than exclusively on the research “nuts and bolts”. He also reminded delegates that proposals must be per se interdisciplinary and cross-sectorial in nature.

It was also important to include a clear exploitation or business plan in the proposal and any ideas to tie into other funding for, for example, demonstration activities through regional smart specialisation would be very useful.

“Considering it was our first evaluations for Horizon 2020 and for SPIRE the whole process has been quite successful,” concluded Soren.

Summing up the first sessions Ignacio Calleja told delegates that: “It was not enough to have good proposals – you needed excellent proposals to succeed!”

Second call
The remainder of the morning was taken up with three parallel sessions presenting project proposals for the next round of SPIRE calls under Horizon 2020.

A large number of presentations were made covering the following calls:
In addition two Factory of the Future calls (FOF 14 – 2015: Integrated design and management of production machinery and processes and FOF 8 -2015: ICT-enabled modelling, simulation, analytics and forecasting technologies) were also featured with 7 presentations.

After lunch a structured discussion on potential first ideas for 2016-2017 took place beginning with an outline of the process and presentations on preliminary ideas from the SPIRE working groups.

This was followed by break-out sessions where views were exchanged on the ideas in five of SPIRE’s Key Component areas:
  • Process
  • Applications
  • Feed
  • Waste2Resource, and 
  • Horizontal Issues. 
More about SPIRE
The Sustainable Process Industry through Resource and Energy Efficiency (SPIRE) is a contractual Public Private Partnership (PPP) dedicated to innovation in resource and energy efficiency enabled by the process industries in Europe. The SPIRE Partnership was established through a contractual arrangement between the European Commission and A.SPIRE aisbl representing industrial from key process industry sectors and other stakeholders.

SPIRE is being implemented through competitive calls under the Horizon 2020 work programmes. SPIRE will develop enabling technologies and value-chain solutions to reach long-term sustainability for Europe in terms of global competitiveness, ecology and employment.

For more information visit the SPIRE website or contact the A.SPIRE aisbl secretariat.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Berlin BIO-TIC Workshop: Use of IB in Bio-Surfactants

BIO-TIC is organising a ‘bio-business workshop’ on the use of industrial biotechnology (IB) in bio-surfactants on 3 September 2014 in Berlin. This will be the first of a series of five workshops looking at product segments and applications in the bioeconomy that BIO-TIC have identified as having significant potential for boosting the competitiveness of European industry and benefiting society by 2030.

The workshop will take place on 3 September at the Westin Grand Hotel, Berlin and will precede the Third ICIS European Surfactants Conference as a satellite event. Registration will be opening soon.

The objectives of the workshop are to:
  • identify technological, non-technological and market hurdles for the uptake of industrial biotechnology in bio-surfactants
  • develop recommendations and solutions to overcome the identified hurdles 
  • contribute to the development, testing and fine-tuning of the BIO-TIC roadmaps 
  • bring together industrial biotechnology end users (downstream) with technology providers (upstream), innovation agencies and decision makers to stimulate interconnected discussion and knowledge exchange platforms and processes
  • collect data to develop draft indicators to measure the socio-economic and environmental impact of IB and the use of renewables-based products in the European Union. 
Why attend the workshop?
Input from the market and experts in industry and research are vital to build a basis for BIO-TIC’s roadmaps. Therefore, the BIO-TIC team is working to engage with multiple stakeholders across different value chains with activities on a range of technological domains from chemistry and engineering to health and the environment.

The idea is to share knowledge with experts and receive recommendations. BIO-TIC has organised a series of “bio-workshops” across Europe, which started in June 2013 and will continue to the end of 2014. The initial workshops were held at a regional level and addressed all business cases. In 2014, BIO-TIC is holding one workshop per business case at a European level. All bio-business workshops will be announced on the BIO-TIC website.

As the bio-surfactants workshop will precede the 3rd ICIS European Surfactants Conference this means that major experts will already be there, increasing the effectiveness and the participation in the workshop and the benefits of attending both events.

Attendance at the workshop will be free of charge but prior registration via the BIO-TIC website will be required. Details of registration will be announced soon on the BIO-TIC website.

For more information on the BIO-TIC bio-surfactants workshop download the workshop flyer or contact the BIO-TIC secretariat.

More details on the 3rd ICIS European Surfactants Conference: - Understanding the key market drivers, trends, challenges and regulations impacting the region’ that takes place on 4 and 5 September can be found on the conference website. You can download a brochure for the ICIS event here.

What is BIO-TIC?
Funded by the European Commission, BIO-TIC was launched, as an FP7 project, with the aim to establish an overview of the opportunities and barriers to biotechnology innovation and propose approaches to address them.

Modern use of industrial biotechnology (IB) is critical in a bio-based economy. Deploying the full potential of biotech innovation will enable the European industry to deliver high-value products to consumers and create new commercial opportunities. New feedstock demands will lead to synergies amongst SMEs and large industrial partners. New technological developments will boost European export of technology and facilities by bringing some of Europe’s top sectors together: chemical industry, engineering and renewables.

However to date, major hurdles continue to hamper the full exploitation of biotechnology in Europe. These hurdles may vary from technological bottlenecks to limited availability of venture capital and fragmented policy frameworks.

BIO-TIC seeks to define product segments and applications that promise significant potential for Europe’s industry and society by 2030. We have now identified five major “bio-business cases” which are EU-competitive and have the potential to introduce cross-cutting technology ideas.

These are:
  • Bio-plastics PHA (polyhydroxyalkanoates) and PLA (polylactic acid)
  • Building blocks 
  • Bio-fuels 
  • Bio-surfactants 
  • CO2-based chemicals 
Based on these business cases, we are developing three in-depth “bio-roadmaps”. These will focus on the market potential, R&D priorities and non-technological hurdles of IB innovation. In particular, the market roadmap will provide market projections upto 2030. The technology roadmap will focus on setting R&D priorities and identifying needs for pilot and demonstration of plant activities. Last but not least, the non-technological barriers roadmap will identify regulatory and non-technological hurdles that may inhibit industrial biotech innovation reaching new market opportunities. The second draft version of the roadmaps is already online while the final version will be released in July 2015.

All BIO-TIC roadmaps, can be downloaded from our Partnering Platform. For more information about the BIO-TIC FP7 project visit our website.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Climate-KIC unveils four new climate change innovation programmes

Today (15 May) the Climate-KIC, the European Union’s main climate innovation initiative, has announced €100+ million funding for long-term programmes aimed at fighting the climate change challenge. At least two of these new programmes will be of interest to SusChem stakeholders.

The four new flagship pan-European innovation programmes will accelerate efforts in climate change mitigation and adaptation and will be supported by a combination of Climate-KIC, partner and external sources of funding to the tune of more than €100 million over the next four years. The programmes will start this year.

The new innovation programmes will incorporate a range of pioneering research, innovation and entrepreneurship in diverse technology sectors including:
  • Sustainable urban environments
  • Climate-friendly homes and offices
  • Exploiting CO2 as a resource
  • Catastrophe models for the finance industry
Mary Ritter, Climate-KIC Chief Executive Officer, said: “These new flagship initiatives will provide focus and impact for Climate-KIC’s approach to climate change mitigation and adaptation. These innovation programmes enable us to expand our work with climate experts, educators and innovative entrepreneurs across Europe to address climate change mitigation and adaptation – and shape the world’s next economy.”

The four programmes were announced at the European Business Summit in Brussels.

Exploiting CO2 as a resource
Under the leadership of Bayer MaterialScience, the enCO2re programme will further broaden the approach for CO2 re-utilisation, connecting technology leaders as well as leading European universities and institutes in order to leverage a broad utilisation of CO2 as feedstock for chemical value chains. Bayer MaterialScience has successfully demonstrated the feasibility of utilising CO2 as polymer feedstock and the news on this new project came on the same day as Bayer announced plans for an industrial scale plant producing CO2-based polyols in Europe.

Following a successful test phase and promising market analysis, Bayer MaterialScience plans to invest € 15 million in the construction of a production line at its Dormagen site to use CO2 to produce a precursor for premium polyurethane foam. The line will have an annual production capacity of 5,000 metric tons. The objective of the “Dream Production” project is to launch the first product on the market in 2016. Processors of polyols and polyurethanes have already expressed considerable interest.

Within the new enCO2re programme turning CO2 into high-value products, as well as evaluating the required infrastructure, will contribute to further decoupling energy and resource consumption from industrial growth a major objective of SusChem and the SPIRE2030 PPP.

Christoph Sievering, Head of Strategic Energy Management, Bayer MaterialScience commented: “Bayer believes in the potential of industrial symbiosis and open innovation. Climate-KIC offers a unique umbrella for further leveraging our ambitions to turn value chains into closed carbon cycles. The Climate-KIC enCO2re flagship is an industry initiative for enabling CO2 re-use. Climate-KIC drives innovation by connecting industry and technology leaders and convinced us with its three-pillar concept of innovation support, educational programmes and start-up acceleration.”

Other Partners of the enCO2re project include: Imperial College London, Delft University of Technology, Chalmers University of Technology, Laborelec, Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies, RWTH Aachen, GDF Suez, TU Berlin, and AkzoNobel.

Climate-friendly homes and offices
The Building Technologies Accelerator will bring together multidisciplinary ‘living lab’ teams across Europe to address the climate impact of new building technologies and accelerate the potential of low carbon products and services in the built environment. By the end of 2014, a range of new prototype technologies will be ready to be launched across Europe’s building sector.

Last year SusChem published a report on Key Innovations in Energy Efficiency in Buildings for Smart Cities that could contribute here and other sustainable chemistry contributions to improved resource and energy efficiency can be found at the Cefic-SusChem Smart Cities website.

Partners for the Building Technologies Accelerator include: Delft University of Technology; ETH Zurich; EMPA; Chalmers University of Technology; Knight Frank; and IVE Spain.

Sustainable urban environments
The Smart Sustainable Districts initiative will help some of Europe’s highest profile city district developments become global exemplar projects testing smart, sustainable systems for replication in other urban areas world-wide. Initially working with four pilot districts from a wider collaborative network of 12, the project will bring together some of the most advanced innovations from Climate-KIC’s network of over 200 partners. The project is led by Imperial College; Institute for Sustainability; TU Berlin; TNO; TU Munich; and Utrecht Sustainability Institute.

The fourth KIC covers ‘Catastrophe models for the finance industry.’

Monday, 12 May 2014

Register for the SusChem Stakeholder event now!

SusChem’s 12th Stakeholder event and 10th anniversary celebration takes place on 11 and 12 June at the Renaissance Hotel in Brussels. Have you registered yet? If not you need to hurry as places are filling up quickly – and with new features just announced (including a brokerage session) you need to act fast to secure your seat at the stakeholder event of the year!

You can download the latest programme for the event here. The theme of the event is 'Sustainable Chemistry: At the forefront of Innovation'. Activities on the first day will open with plenary sessions on SusChem’s achievements and future challenges and then focus on the presentation and discussion of the new SusChem Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda (SIRA). The new SIRA will guide the platform’s activities for the next few years and is organised around six main topic themes:
  • Resource and energy efficiency
  • Biotechnologies and the bioeconomy
  • Clean and efficient energy
  • Transportation
  • Health and well-being
  • Horizontal issues
At the stakeholder event on 11 June you can participate in a round-table discussion on one of these themes and be one of the first to provide your views and input. Registered participants for the stakeholder event will receive a copy of the SIRA before the event.

Your input is important. We want to hear what you think about the proposed priorities. Are they relevant? Are there missing topics? What relative priorities should we assign to the various topics?

This is a unique opportunity to shape the future of European innovation in sustainable chemistry for the coming decade.

The first day of the event will close with a review of the role of SusChem’s National Technology Platform network in delivering the outcomes of the new SIRA and a networking poster session with cocktails.

Funding, ICT and chemicals
Opening the morning of the second day will be a panel discussion on innovation opportunities through combined funding with representatives of the European Investment Bank, DG Enterprise and Bayer Technology Services.

This will be followed by a presentation on the Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) programme under Horizon 2020.

After coffee there are two parallel sessions to choose from. ICT (Information and Communication Technology) is of great importance to contemporary concepts in chemical processing and SusChem is dedicating one event session to the topic. ICT will be considered in broad terms to include topics such as:
  • Fundamental and data-driven modelling (molecular, processes and equipment, applications)
  • Material, product and process design
  • Process engineering techniques
  • Process and equipment monitoring and maintenance techniques
  • Data handling and data analysis techniques
  • Process control, including hardware and software 
Break out for process KIC
A parallel session will address how the SusChem community can help shape a successful KIC (Knowledge and Innovation Communities) in advanced manufacturing. The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) aims to enhance Europe’s ability to innovate by integrating higher education, research and business in areas of major concern to society through the establishment of appropriate KICs. Presentations will be made on the EIT and KICs and this will be followed by contributions from SusChem stakeholders already involved in the Climate KIC.

Just before lunch SusChem chairman Dr Klaus Sommer (right) will close the main stakeholder event with a summary of learning points and will outline the near-term way forward for the platform including the process for finalising and implementing the SIRA.

H2020 brokerage
After lunch on day two the brokerage session will focus on Horizon 2020 call topics with their call dates falling in the second half of 2014 or in 2015. The session offers a unique opportunity for industry, academia, SMEs and other actors to start developing consortia ready to submit funding applications.

You can download a list of SusChem relevant calls that will be subject of discussion at the brokerage session here. And new project proposals can already be submitted via the SusChem / Cefic Grant-It portal. Participants can also submit posters for the informal poster session and/ or register to take part in our popular ‘speed dating’ sessions!

Register today!
For more details on the brokerage session – and all other aspects of the stakeholder event – register today. For more information, please email the SusChem secretariat or visit the SusChem website.

See you in Brussels on 11 and 12 June!

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Green light for Bio-Based Industries Initiative!

Today (6 May) EU governments have given the green light to roll out, over 2014-2020, an ambitious Innovation Investment Package worth over €20 billion for public and private investment in research and innovation.  The package is set to tackle some of the EU’s major societal challenges and boost growth and jobs through strategic public-private partnerships (PPP); in particular through the new Bio-Based Industries (BBI) PPP.

The BBI will create new jobs, especially in rural regions, and offer Europeans new and sustainable products sourced and produced locally. Making the economy more sustainable by using renewable resources in a smart and efficient manner will benefit society as a whole.

Bio-based industries will increase the competitiveness of the European economy through re-industrialisation and sustainable growth. New value chains will be created between often unconnected sectors, ranging from primary production and processing industries to consumer brands.

The development of new bio-based products and markets based on smart and efficient use of resources will diversify industries’ revenue streams. The BBI should therefore enable European companies to be more competitive in the global bioeconomy race with the US, China and Brazil.

The BBI is expected to bridge European research knowledge with commercial scale bio-based products, making full use of European scientific and technological knowledge. SusChem has played a significant role in laying the foundations of the BBI initiative and looks forward to supporting its development.

The BBI should benefit all Member States where regions can play an important role through their Smart Specialisation Strategies.

Now that EU governments have given their green light, the BBI will be officially established on the day of publication of the Regulation in the Official Journal of the European Union in early- mid-June.

9 July: launch of the first BBI Calls
The BBI’s first Call for Proposals will be launched on 9 July. The BBI will fund projects aimed at: 
  • Building new value chains based on the development of sustainable biomass collection and supply systems with increased productivity and improved utilisation of biomass feedstock (including co- and by-products); 
  • Unlocking the utilisation and valorisation of waste and lignocellulosic biomass; 
  • Bringing existing value chains to new levels, through optimised uses of feedstock and industrial side-streams while offering innovative added value products to the market, thus creating a market pull and reinforcing the competitiveness of EU agriculture and forest based industries.  
  • Bringing technology to maturity through research and innovation, by upgrading and building demonstration and flagship biorefineries that will process the biomass into a range of innovative bio-based products. 
About the Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking
The Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking is a €3.7 billion Public-Private Partnership (PPP) between the EU and the Bio-based Industries Consortium (BIC). 
The BBI is dedicated to realising the European bioeconomy potential, by turning biological residues and wastes into greener everyday products through innovative technologies and biorefineries, which are at the heart of the bioeconomy.

The BBI is about bridging key sectors, creating new value chains and producing a range of innovative bio-based products to ultimately form a new bio-based community and economy. 

BIC, the industrial partner in the PPP, hosts a unique mix of sectors including agriculture, agro-food, technology providers, forest-based/pulp and paper, chemicals and energy. It is an association that was specifically established in 2012 to collectively represent the private sector in the BBI. To date, BIC has 69 full industrial members (large, SMEs, clusters) and over 100 associate members (RTOs, universities, associations, technology platforms). And it is still growing. 

For more information contact the BIC secretariat or visit the BIC website where you can also find the latest BIC newsletter.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Latest CRM_InnoNet Newsletter published

The latest (sixth) issue of the CRM_InnoNet newsletter (below) has just been published and is available to download from the project website.

The May 2014 issue includes the following features:

  • The Second CRM Innovation Network Workshop coming up on 14 May in Brussels including speaker announcements and a last chance to register.
  • A short summary of the CRM_InnoNet presence at the Industrial Technologies 2014 in Athens from 9 to 11 April. The project was present at the SusChem booth and you can download the CRM_InnoNet poster prepared for the event, which was attended by some 1200 delegates.
  • A preview of the Critical Raw Material Supply Chain Analysis for the Transport Sector which will be published during in May/ CRM_InnoNet has looked at applications in this sector that are dependant on critical raw materials (CRM) to get a better understanding of CRM supply risk to European industry and how to address them.
  • A company profile for project partners Tecnalia.
  • News on upcoming events and much more.

Please feel free to share the newsletter with your networks and colleagues

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 ERA.

For more information on CRM_InnoNet email the project secretariat at the UK’s Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) and you can also follow the project on Twitter.