Wednesday, 27 April 2016

BBI launches Third Funding Call worth €189 million

The Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU) launched its 2016 Call for proposals at it research and innovation InfoDay in Brussels last week. The €189 million call covers new biobased economy research and support actions, demonstrators and flagship biorefinery projects – a long term SusChem objective – and will deliver across a wide range of biotech topics from waste treatment to marine technologies.

In this third call the BBI JU will provide funding to European biobased industries, researchers and entrepreneurs across a broad range of 27 new topics – including two new flagship topics. The 2016 call encourages collaboration through partnerships that cuts across traditional industry boundaries. Unlike previous BBI JU calls proposals submitted to the call will not have to be linked specifically to specific value chains as defined by the JU’s Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda (SIRA).

The BBI JU programme is designed to support the coherent development of Europe’s biobased economy. Full details of the third Call topics can be found here on the European Commission's Horizon 2020 Participant Portal.

“The 2016 Call appeals to all actors involved in the biobased industries, including small and medium-sized businesses, academia, and new previously unconnected industry,” commented Philippe Mengal, BBI JU’s Executive Director pictured above at the BBI InfoDay. “Particularly as it includes specific emphasis on proposals to tackle issues around better re-use and valorisation of agri-forestry side and waste streams, novel ways to extract value from municipal waste and innovative marine-based solutions to increasing sustainable supplies of new types of biomass.”

The 2016 Call is expected to be more inclusive than ever, as it reaches out to innovators who can turn their research into new and improved industrial processes.  In this regard close cooperation between SusChem, BBI JU and other ‘SusChem inspired’ initiatives - such as the Sustainable Process Industries through Resource and Energy Efficiency (SPIRE) PPP – will be required to ensure smooth integration of new bioprocesses into existing and new industrial processes and value chains.

“The real added value of the BBI JU is that it brings together different sectors and industries,” said Dirk Carrez, Executive Director of the Biobased Industries Consortium (BIC) - pictured above on the left. BIC acts as the private sector partner in the BBI JU. “This leads to the creation of new value chains, with different partners working together within a single project. With this 2016 call, new areas are being introduced such as research using algae and other aquatic biomass, demo projects focusing on industrial crop varieties and novel sources of biomass such as municipal solid waste, or flagship actions addressing waste streams and by-products from the food processing industry.”

Flagship projects
The focus of the BBI JU programme does not stop at the research or pilot plant phase, but continues with demonstration projects, through the creation of small-scale production plants, which can be used to explore elements such as proof-of-concept, sustainability and competitiveness.

These include the flagship projects that will be innovative first-of-a-kind production plants for Europe. For these call topics funding will be made available for the innovative aspects of such plants – rather than for the entire infrastructure. This is an approach that already exists in some parts of the world, but is a new concept for Europe.

John Bell, Director for Bioeconomy at the European Commission DG Research and Innovation – pictured above - commented: “The development of biobased industries, if successful, can bring rewards for many European stakeholders: consumers who get access to new sustainable products based on renewable biological resources, biobased industries that take technological and sustainability leadership and thereby build long-term competitive advantages; enhanced economic growth and new jobs in rural, coastal and industrial areas; and new revenue streams for the EU’s agri-food, forestry and marine sectors.”

The BBI JU 2016 Call for Proposals was fully presented at the BBI JU’s Open Info day on 21 April in Brussels. With well over 500 participants registered this was a very well attended information and awareness event that brought together high-level speakers, programme managers and experts from business and industry.

The morning sessions were dedicated to information about the BBI’s role in developing Europe’s bio-based economy, with key note speeches from Philippe Mengal, John Bell and Dirk Carrez. Information on participating in the 2016 Call was shared and included how to apply, tips and tricks on writing a proposal, BBI Call rules, and how to submit a proposal. The BBI GREENLIGHT project, from the 2014 Call, was presented by Peter Axegård, Vice President (Bioeconomy) for INVENNTIA, who described their experience as a successful consortium and project proposal.

In addition to informal networking during the breaks, the dedicated brokerage event during the afternoon sessions gave attendees an opportunity to expand their contacts through pre-scheduled private meetings. During the afternoon more than 600 face-to-face meetings were scheduled through BBI's Partnering Platform.

In parallel to the brokerage event, BBI invited six different organisations with shared links and synergies to meet BBI stakeholders. These organisations included the Bio-Based Industries Consortium (BIC), European Regions Research and Innovation Network (ERRIN), the BioHorizon NCP-network project, the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) and the European Network for Rural Development (ENRD). And co-hosting a special cross-institutional funding synergies space were the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME), the SPIRE PPP and representatives from relevant units from the European Commission’s DG Research and Innovation who provided information on synergies with BBI JU funding and other structural funds.

The event was recorded and you can watch proceedings here. Further information and presentations from the event can be found here.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

SusChem Stakeholder event to discuss the Circular Economy

In October 2015 the European Technology Platform for Sustainable Chemistry (SusChem) published a position paper on the Circular Economy. You can download the paper here. Since its inception in 2004 SusChem has inspired numerous research and innovation activities that address major European societal issues. SusChem’s solutions are based on sustainable enabling technologies developed by the chemical industry and its partners in academia, research and technology organisations, and other industrial players from a wide variety of different value-chains and sectors. The paper illustrates how many of these technologies are essential to the implementation of a sustainable circular economy.

The position paper develops SusChem’s vision for a functioning circular economy in Europe (and globally) and provides some concrete examples of the high impact contributions that the platform and its partners can make to achieve this essential objective.

A Circular Economy will be the subject of a dedicated panel discussion at the forthcoming SusChem stakeholder event on 16 June and in preparation for the discussion SusChem is seeking your questions and observations on the role of sustainable chemistry in implementing a circular economy.

The SusChem position
SusChem’s position paper has three main messages.

1/ A sustainability-based approach is needed
The integration of all aspects of sustainability over the whole product life-cycle is essential to the development of a circular economy in order to effectively ensure a positive impact on society while optimising environmental impact and maintaining economic growth.

2/ Technology development is required for a sustainable circular economy
A circular economy cannot be achieved only through implementation of new regulations, services and business models.  Advanced technologies are essential to enable a better use of existing resources along the whole life cycle to develop new production and recycling paths – and the expertise of the chemical industry as a material supplier is highly valuable and important here.
In particular SusChem believes that the principle technology developments should take place in the following three areas:
  • Utilisation of sustainable alternative feedstock including secondary raw materials, ligno-cellulosic biomass, waste or industrial gas effluents (including CO2). 
  • Design of sustainable materials enabling eco design of ‘products’ that are easy to recycle while maintaining or improving performance.
  • Improved efficiency for production processes to maximise the use of all resources entering the system including primary and secondary raw materials, water, and energy.
These technologies are more fully described in the SusChem 2015 Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda (SIRA) and should be supported through the appropriate European funding instruments.

3/ Coherence and stability over time for the policy framework is critical for European leadership
To contribute fully to a sustainable economy, the circular economy policy should be developed in coordination with other related policies such as the Energy Union Package. Policy coherence, as well as policy stability over time, is essential to establish a regulatory framework that enables investment in sustainable, resource efficient and innovative technologies in Europe and ensures European leadership in sustainable/clean technologies.

The position paper concludes with five examples that describe a selection of potential contributions by SusChem technology solutions to the circular economy: the use of CO2 as an alternative carbon resource; new composite materials; new catalysts; industrial symbiosis; and biorefineries.

Stakeholder discussions
The full position paper can be downloaded here. SusChem welcomes your questions and observations about the paper and / or current European policy in this area to inform the discussions at our 2016 Stakeholder Event.

Registration for the 2016 SusChem Stakeholder event is now open. The event will take place on 16 June 2016 at the Hotel Bloom in Brussels, Belgium. A dedicated registration website has been set up for the event that includes links to discounted accommodation at the Hotel Bloom.

You are invited to submit your questions and comments and also your expectations for outcomes as part of the registration process. You can submit your questions and comments when you register and there will also be a link for question submission sent with the registration confirmation email.

You can register here. For more information on registration, please contact the SusChem secretariat.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Introducing the WssTP SME Awards 2016

The third edition of the WssTP Water Innovation SME awards is here! The WssTP platform invites all European SMEs to submit their innovative breakthrough solutions or technologies for the WssTP Water Innovation SME Awards 2016.  The awards will take place during the WssTP annual stakeholder conference, Water Innovation Europe 2016 (WIE2016), that will take place from 21 to 23 June 2016 in Brussels.

During WIE2016, the top ten short-listed entries will have the chance to present their innovations during the 'Innovation and Technology Pitches' session, just before the keynote speech from EU Commissioner for Research and Innovation Carlos Moedas on the first day of the full conference (22 June - pre-conference sessions take pace on 21 June). A speed dating session will follow, in which all applicants will have a table to discuss their innovations with other participants.

The four winning applications will be the ones characterised as best practises with high market potential in their field of application.

The WssTP Water Innovation SME Awards are helping companies to sell and promote their innovation. Because they are awarded by a respected and widely appreciated association gives even more value to the winning innovations. These awards are proof to all stakeholders in the market that the innovation is a game changer that should be respected and taken seriously,” comments a representative of SansOx Oy from Finland who were winners of the WssTP Water Innovation SME Awards in 2014 and again in 2015.

Who, what and where? 
Αny independent private company with a legal address in Europe, less than 250 employees and a turnover of less than EUR 50 million turnover is eligible to enter the competition. The winners will receive a trophy, two years free membership of WssTP, and promotion through the WssTP website and social media channels.

The Awards ceremony itself will be held during the dinner of the Water Innovation Europe 2016 conference on the evening of 22 June at the Diamant Conference Centre in Brussels.

With over 200 participants from all around Europe, Water Innovation Europe is the landmark event for the European water sector. The event brings together all the aspects of the sector: scientists and technology developers, utility representatives, large water users, European and national/ regional policy makers and finance experts. Water Innovation Europe offers an open platform for information gathering and networking among the most influential stakeholders from within and beyond the water sector.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Nova Institut announce #useCO2 session

The nova Institut has announced that registration is now open for the first nova Session on a technology of the future: Carbon Capture and Utilization (CCU). This one-day workshop briefing session takes place on 4 May 2016 at Cologne Airport, Germany. Carbon Capture and Utilization (CCU) technologies - also known as #useCO2 – are close to SusChem’s heart and feature in SusChem’s Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda (SIRA).

The session will be led by Nova’s CCU-experts Michael Carus and Achim Raschka who will give five presentations at the workshop and additional short presentations from the participants are also welcome. The event will leave plenty of room for discussions.

Participants will have the chance to actively shape content and form of the event and contribute short presentations on their work and the topics they are most interested in.

“At the moment, there is no space for experts to really get together and exchange knowledge, ask questions and meet people from the same and other sectors of the economy – be it from R&D or manufacturing – who might have different views and perspectives on the topics,” states Michael Carus.

The presentations by nova-Institute will highlight:

  • The potential of Carbon Dioxide Utilization in combination with renewable energy
  • The political framework for commercial CCU projects
  • The economy and ecology of CCU 
  • Artificial Photosynthesis: Definition and development status 
  • The latest technology developments and implementation status of CCU derived fuels, chemicals and polymers including:
    • use of flue gases and industrial gases,
    • direct air capture,
    • electrolysis
    • artificial photosynthesis,
    • photocatalytic water splitting,
    • hybrid systems,
    • (bio)electrochemical processes,
    • biotechnology processes,
    • Fischer-Tropsch synthesis (PtL),
    • Methanisation (PtG)

More information about the event and a full agenda are available here. Participants in the nova sessions are limited to 20 people and places will be offered on a ‘first-come, first-served’ basis, so if you are interested in attending the event registration is advised as soon as possible.

The venue is the Wöllhaf Conference Centre at the Bonn/ Cologne airport.

SusChem and CO2
CO2 conversion technologies in general—including chemical catalysis processes— feature in the SusChem Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda (SIRA) that was published at the beginning of 2015. The SIRA addresses the challenges of CO2 conversion via both chemical and biotechnology routes and identifies a series of research and innovation actions that will move the field forward. In addition to efficient conversion processes these actions include sustainable technologies to recover CO2 from flue gases and the integration of renewable energy and efficient technologies for H2 production.

nova Sessions
nova Sessions are a new, interactive and informative series of events around topical issues relating to the biobased and CO2-based economies organised by the nova-Institute. In the sessions interested experts from industry, associations, policy and civil society get together with leading nova experts at one-day workshops to get up-to-date, stay informed and discuss different topics.

You can find more detailed information on the full programme of nova sessions here.

Monday, 18 April 2016

Energy Fest in Amsterdam

From May 24 to 28 the Startup Fest Europe is taking place in the Netherlands under the patronage of Prince Constantijn van Oranje. This exciting cluster of events is designed to connect innovative talent and their breakthrough technologies with investors and corporate innovators worldwide. As part of this event on Thursday 26 May Shell, DSM, Eneco, Rockstart, Sungevity and Salesforce are hosting an Energy Fest at the Shell Technology Centre in Amsterdam. The event will explore how innovators are tackling the biggest energy transition challenges.

Energy Fest promises to be an exciting day of energy technology innovation featuring breakthrough solutions and disruptive technologies in the start-up ecosystem. Energy Fest will experiment with taking collaboration and creativity to a new level that can tackle our current energy challenges and tap into new opportunities. The event offers accelerated match-making between venture capital investors, corporate innovation programmes and start-up companies to stimulate collaboration as well as ‘bigger picture’ insights from government and thought leaders.

If you are a start-up, corporate, venture capitalist or someone with an interest in energy innovation then you should attend Energy Fest to hear leading experts speak at the Energy Fest conference and panels. The speakers include Maros Sevkovic (Vice President of the European Commission responsible for the Energy Union policy), Bertrand van Ee (CEO of the Climate KIC), and Rob van Leen (Chief Innovation Officer at DSM).

Connect and collaborate
The event will allow delegates to connect and collaborate with great thinkers from Silicon Valley and The Netherlands, to explore our Start-up Village displaying a multitude of exciting energy start-ups and enjoy facilitated matchmaking between start-up companies, venture capitalists, corporates, start-up accelerators and potential customers. You can also discover the corporate innovation support programmes available to innovators and start-ups at Shell, DSM, Salesforce and Eneco.

You can also attend our start-up pitch competitions. Energy Fest will hold an open pitch competition focusing on three areas ripe for innovation:
  • Renewable Energy & Storage
  • IT in Energy, and
  • Oil & Gas
If you are a start-up looking for funding and acceleration then you cannot afford to miss this opportunity to present your ideas to a broad audience of potential investors and an expert jury.

How to register
Attending the Energy Fest is free of charge, but there are only a limited number of places available. To reserve your place, please click on this link to register today!

Thursday, 14 April 2016

SusChem Stakeholder Event 2016: Sustainable Chemistry Innovation for Competitiveness

Registration is now open for this year’s SusChem Stakeholder event! Under the overarching theme ‘Sustainable Chemistry Innovation for Competitiveness’ the event will take place on 16 June 2016 at The Bloom Hotel in Brussels, Belgium.

The SusChem Stakeholder Event is the biggest annual event held by the European Technology Platform for Sustainable Chemistry (SusChem) and brings together the chemical industry, academia, Research Technology Organisations and EU policy representatives to address common challenges and debate priorities in the European chemical and biotechnology innovation sectors.

Following the extensive discussions at our successful 2015 Stakeholder event, significant progress has been made on five crucial innovation priorities areas that were identified at that event:
  • Sustainable bio-economy
  • ICT for processes
  • Water
  • Catalysis
  • Materials for energy
What’s happening?
This year’s event will include a number of exciting activities and present important new developments for the SusChem community, including two lively high-level panel debates to discuss the recently published European Commission Innovation Strategy packages on:
These two interactive panels will bring together strategy experts from the European Commission and captains of industry to discuss the hot topics surrounding these major policy packages such as:
  • Identifying new challenges in and opportunities for sustainable chemistry,
  • Identifying areas of consensus that align with the priorities of the European Commission and the European chemical industry, and
  • Defining news ways forward to ensure that the five crucial SusChem innovation priorities identified above are systematically considered in these two high-level policy initiatives.
We hope for a highly interactive debate and welcome your questions and expectations on the outcomes of the panels before the event (see below).

The SusChem event will also present the latest news and activities from our SusChem National Technology Platforms (NTPs).

Event objectives
The SusChem Stakeholder Event will be, as usual, a high-level initiative that aims to:
  • Improve dialogue between our stakeholders;
  • Identify innovation drivers for the future;
  • Present the European chemical industry as a solution provider to address societal challenges;
  • Promote a common view between the chemical industry and the European Commission to increase synergies and develop shared solutions on innovation priority areas.
A dedicated registration website has been set up for the event that includes links to discounted accommodation at the Hotel Bloom.

To ensure full, open and interactive discussions on current innovation priorities and to identify those that are missing from the European Commission packages, you are invited to submit your questions for the panels and also your expectations for outcomes from these two high-level panel debates as part of the registration process. You can submit your questions and comments when you register and there will also be a link for question submission sent with the registration confirmation email.

You can register here. For more information on registration, please contact the SusChem secretariat.

Monday, 11 April 2016

A New Vision for EU Materials Research and Innovation

Yesterday (11 April 2016) saw the launch of the website for the VERAM project. This exciting new Horizon 2020 funded project will produce a new Vision and Roadmap for European raw materials research and innovation. VERAM is a unique coordination project that links two European Technology Platforms (ETPs) in minerals and forestry and two European Research Areas (ERA-NETs). And SusChem is involved too. With a total budget of €1.4 million to be implemented over a period of 30 months, the project kicked off in December 2015 and will complete its work by 31 May 2018.

The VERAM project will produce a Vision and Roadmap for European Raw Materials to 2050 based on the coordination of raw materials research and innovation. At the heart of this collaboration are two of our fellow ETPs: ETP SMR on Sustainable Minerals Resources and FTP (Forest Technology Platform). They are supported in their efforts by the ECTP (European Construction Technology Platform) represented by Università Politecnica dells Marche - UNIVPM, EuMaT (Advanced Materials ETP) represented by Vlaamse Instelling voor Technologisch Onderzoek - VITO, and by SusChem represented by the European Chemica Industry Council - Cefic.

In addition the ERA-NETs WoodWisdomNet (represented in the project by Fachagentur Nachwachsende Rohstoffe – FNR – from Germany) and ERA‐Min (represented by the French National Centre for Scientific Research – CNRS) will link to national research funding activities and four well-known research institutes - D’Appolonia SPA from Italy, Germany's Forschunszentrum Juelich - FZ Juelich, Fundacion Technalia Research and Innovation - Tecnalia from Spain, and Teknologian tutkimuskeskus VTT Oy - VTT from Finland - complete the partnership.

This unique and formidable partnership provides VERAM with a vast range of expertise including downstream applications and additional knowledge on secondary raw materials.

VERAM vision
VERAM will look to the future economic development of the European Union (EU) and will deliver a long-term 2050 vision and roadmap for non-food, non-energy raw material including wood, metals, industrial minerals and aggregates that can enable economic growth and restructuring and technological leadership along relevant materials value chains.

The project will define a range of targets with a defined timeline and identify actions to achieve these. To achieve the Vision 2050, the VERAM partnership will review existing foresight studies, the Strategic Research Agendas of various ETPs, consult with representatives of major stakeholder networks along the different raw material value chains, with the ERA-NETs, as well as the European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT) Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KIC) on Raw Materials.

VERAM aims to provide an umbrella and coordination function for raw materials related research and innovation activities that address security and sustainability of supply from EU and non-EU sources. It also hopes to create new synergistic effects by linking biotic and non-biotic resources. And it intends to develop strategies to bring these innovations to market and develop recommendations for future research and innovation related policy actions.

The project aims to include all relevant aspects of non-food, non-energy raw materials related research and innovation. It challenges the current compartmentalisation and fragmentation in these areas and aims to increase synergies and facilitate uptake of research results.

The project will also encourage capacity building and transfer of knowledge. It expects to provide an innovation reference point for the EIT’s activities on Raw Materials, to coordinate the network involved in the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) on Raw Materials Commitments and other relevant proposals funded under Horizon 2020.  VERAM will provide a platform for identifying gaps and complementarities and enable their bridging.

VERAM is designed to address a range of societal challenges through a more sustainable and resource-efficient use of raw materials and to help reap the benefits of the growing European circular economy.

VERAM aims to provide a comprehensive master plan by:
  • improving co-ordination of EU and Member States' research and innovation programmes and other funded activities;
  • stimulating research and innovation with the highest possible societal value and return on Research and Technology Development investment to create new enabling technologies and materials;
  • optimising the economic leverage effect of investment in research and innovation.
The VERAM project will embark on activities to boost research and innovation and efficient industrial exploitation of raw materials. The impact of the project will be visible in the short term (1 to 5 years) by strengthened cooperation between the different stakeholders groups involved in the EIP Raw Materials, in the medium term (5-15 years) under the umbrella of the agreed 2030 vision and roadmap draft documents and on the long term (15 to 35 years) through the 2050 Roadmap.

More information
The VERAM (Vision and roadmap for the European raw materials) project is coordinated by ETP SMR via EuroGeoSurveys with communication and dissemination activities managed by Cefic. More information on all the project partners can be found here. For more information on the project, please email the project.

EFFRA Launches Public Consultation on FoF PPP Work Programme

The European Factories of the Future Research Association (EFFRA) has just launched a public consultation on the ‘Factories of the Future’ (FoF) PPP work programme for 2018 through to 2020. The FoF consultation document contains a wide range of potential call topics that will be of interest to the SusChem community from manufacturing complex and multi-material components to additive manufacturing (3D printing), material and resource efficiency in manufacturing, energy efficiency, new processes, digitisationresouir and circular economy issues.

The public consultation is part of EFFRA’s preparations for strategic discussions with the European Commission concerning the final ‘Factories of the Future’ work programme under Horizon 2020.

The consultation is a unique opportunity to provide your input to this important research and innovation programme. The deadline for consultation feedback is 4 May 2016 (17:00 CET).

EFFRA is looking for input from representatives of industry, research and innovation, and academia to provide their views on priorities for the work programme that will shape the ‘Factories of the Future’ research and innovation call topics in 2018, 2019 and 2020.

EFFRA will use the input received to compile a roadmap document that complements the current ‘Factories of the Future 2020’ roadmap. The new document will be entitled 'Factories 4.0 and Beyond' and will be delivered to the European Commission to provide a key contribution to preparations for the work programme.

How to get involved
The consultation feedback form can be completed online through the EFFRA Innovation Portal. The feedback form does not have to be completed in one sitting and participants may save and return to it as often as they need until the close of the consultation on Wednesday 4 May.

To access the response form you must be registered and logged into the EFFRA Innovation Portal. Instructions on how to participate are available here.

You can access the consultation response form here when logged onto the portal. The consultation document itself is available without logging on here.

For more information, or if you have specific questions on the consultation, please contact Chris DeCubber at EFFRA.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Bringing Science to Finance and Finance to Science

Key Enabling Technologies (KETs) are a cornerstone for innovation in Europe's economy and SusChem was heavily involved with the development of the European Commission’s policy in this area. KETs are important drivers of innovation, growth and industrial competitiveness in Europe. Approximately 10 000 smaller to medium-sized companies in Europe, including many developing sustainable chemistry solutions, base their businesses on the development and commercialisation of KETs. The European Investment Bank (EIB) has just published a study that reviews access-to-finance conditions met by companies investing in KETs and proposes nine recommendations to improve conditions.

The study highlights that, despite good market conditions in the financial markets, not all companies benefit from these conditions in the same way. Many dynamic innovators and research-driven newcomers find it hard to raise growth capital to develop and scale-up their businesses. Investment in innovation in Europe still lags far behind that of the US and Japan.

“We must bring “science to finance” and “finance to science”. It is my priority for the EIB Group to ensure that effective finance solutions and targeted advisory support are available for innovative companies to do just this,” says Werner Hoyer, President of the EIB in his foreword to the study.

What is the problem?
The key insight of the study is that many KETs companies struggle to obtain adequate debt financing. Due to its general risk aversion, the banking sector does not cater to the specific needs of many KETs companies with almost 30% of KETs companies in the study failing to obtain adequate debt financing. More KETs companies (about 50%) find themselves struggling to obtain the finance needed to generate further growth and innovation.

The study concludes that a high capacity for innovation and strong growth figures alone are not guarantees of adequate access-to-finance. Current conditions on Europe's financial markets are not to blame – the overall lending climate is described as favourable by market participants. But Europe's conservative financing “ecosystem” is not in favour of the most dynamic innovators. Most R&D-driven businesses find it hard to convince traditional/regional banks to provide the desired level of funding.

KETs companies can be clustered into three categories depending on their financial needs:

  • Post start-ups: typically smaller KETs companies, which have outgrown the R&D phase and are generating profits but have a high business risk
  • Quantum leap companies: KETs companies of various sizes, targeting a large scale-up requiring large amounts of debt in relation to their company size
  • Well-established innovators: typically relatively larger KETs companies with a stable market position and a solid revenue base

KETs financing is a highly knowledge-driven business. In order to assess investment plans and business outlooks, enhanced technology, market and financial expertise are needed, but not always available to banks. By sharing and leveraging its existing knowledge base, the EIB could significantly improve access-to-finance conditions for KETs companies.

Big is beautiful – smaller KETs companies face more difficulties and require broader support beyond pure finance. The current banking system places smaller KETs companies at a disadvantage. These companies, which are often young and highly innovative, tend to fail in raising adequate finance due to the conservative, asset-based lending approach followed by the smaller banks/regional branches. Better preparation of both these financial intermediaries and smaller KETs companies, coupled with a higher-risk-taking approach to lending, is needed in order to help innovative KETs companies realise their full potential.

Public financing agencies could also play a stronger role in leveraging private money - in addition to "merely" providing funds. The public sector must take the lead initiative in order to significantly leverage the growth and employment potential of KETs companies providing access to higher risk capital and also advisory services and facilitating the meeting of demand for and supply of capital.

What can be done?
The study’s review of high-tech innovation financing worldwide yielded a number of approaches that the EIB could build on. The most promising innovative approaches for KETs financing found were higher-risk-taking debt instruments, specific equity-based programmes and the combination of financing instruments with advisory services. In addition the ability of financial instruments to attract private co-financing is a key element of successful public support to improve financing conditions for KETs companies.

The EIB is well-positioned in technology financing, with substantial funds available from EU-level programmes and financial instruments under the umbrellas of InnovFin and the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI). The existing programmes, however, do not fully meet the specific needs of many KETs companies.

The study has developed nine recommendations on how the EIB and European Commission can help improve access-to-finance conditions for KETs companies. These are detailed below.

The EIB and European Commission should place particular emphasis on two areas:

  • Improving “knowledge” in the market on both technology and finance to bring “science to finance” and “finance to science”
  • Higher-risk-taking products and instruments designed to meet the specific needs of the identified KETs company types

In a highly fragmented European KETs landscape, the EIB has a unique ability to combine a deep understanding of the market with the necessary boldness to make a significant difference the study concludes.

You can download the full study here, which was carried out by InnovFin Advisory with the support of Roland Berger Strategy Consultants.