Friday, 27 May 2016

Sustainable chemistry at Industrial Technologies 2016

Sustainable chemistry will be featuring in two sessions at the European Conference Industrial Technologies 2016 hosted by the Netherlands Presidency of the European Union from 22 to 24 June 2016. The event will take place at the RAI Conference Centre in Amsterdam with the overarching theme: Creating a Smart Europe.

Industrial Technologies 2016 will be the largest networking conference in the field of new production technologies, materials, nanotechnology, biotechnology and digital technologies in Europe this year with more than 1 250 high level delegates expected. And with more than 100 influential speakers giving presentations, lectures and workshops, delegates will learn how to push the boundaries of new technologies to make businesses smarter and more successful.

SusChem sessions
Two sessions on the afternoon of 22 June under the 'Fostering smart and sustainable growth' strand will be of particular interest to SusChem stakeholders. The first session is ‘Innovation Inside: Circular Economy in the Chemical Industry’ and runs from 13:30 to 15:00.

Sustainable chemical innovation is key in the transition into a Circular Economy and is a key topic of debate at the 2016 SusChem Stakeholder event. The chemical industry and its partners in academia, research and technology organisations are involved in, and have completed a number of SusChem-inspired European funded projects with the objective to advance into a circular economy by accelerating the development of low Technology Readiness Level (TRL) ideas into industrial pilot and semi-commercial level.

The session will be moderated by Marco Mensink, Director General European Chemical Industry Council and will include a contributions by SusChem board Chairman and SPIRE president Klaus Sommer of Bayer Technology Services, Stefan Krämer of INEOS Köln, Gloria Gaupmann from Clariant, Christoph Gürtler of Covestro, Peter Aerts from Dow Water and Process Solutions, and Thierry Collard from Solvay Chemicals.

How to produce more using fewer resources?  How to save materials through new manufacturing approaches and how to minimise energy consumption during manufacturing. This requires new design approaches coupled with new, material saving production processes with improved material efficiency and enabling the (flexible) use of substitute materials.

The panel will discuss examples of recently completed projects and specifically discuss the learning and successes in terms of the transition to a circular economy by innovation, adoption and implementation of new technologies. The panel will also address energy, water and resource efficiencies achieved by a combination of innovation and effective use of data and digitalisation. As the final point the panel plans to address the importance of adopting integration of management systems and industrial symbiosis to achieve the next level of breakthrough.

Immediately after the coffee break the sustainable chemistry theme will continue on 22 June with the session entitled ‘Industrial biotechnology for sustainable and efficient manufacturing’ from 15:30 to 16:30.

Major challenges in the biobased industries concern developing and valorising new feedstock resources, including wastes, residues, non-food biomass sources, and multiple feedstock sources, while improving the yield, productivity and robustness of bioconversions processes. In addition the industry must achieve constant high quality in biobased products, feedstock and bioconversion processes, improve efficiencies in scaling-up through predictive scale-up models, and develop integrated bioconversion processes.

The session chair will be SusChem board member: Joanna Dupont from EuropaBio with contributions from Mika Härkönen of VTT, Jelle Ernst Oude Lenferink from Fluor and Ana Palanca of AIMPLAS.

Creating a Smart Europe
The three day conference brings together personalities involved in research, industry, education, finance and policy activities from  manufacturing and process industry and technology domains from all over Europe to identify priorities that are crucial to strengthen the European industrial innovation ecosystem and deliver ‘A Smart Europe’.

The Industrial Technologies 2016 conference offers a full three day programme including plenary sessions, parallel lectures and workshops, matchmaking for collaborative ventures, and visits to Dutch companies that are in the lead of Smart Industry developments plus much, much more.

You can download an overview with all the activities at Industrial Technologies 2016 here.

Follow Industrial Technologies 2016 on twitter.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

EIC is an Opportunity to Strengthen Innovation Framework

Cefic submitted a position statement and participated in the recent European Commission consultation call “Designing a European Innovation Council: A Call for Ideas”.  Cefic thinks that the European Commission initiative to create a European Innovation Council (EIC) provides an opportunity to strengthen the overall framework for innovation in Europe and that the EIC should be tasked with designing and supporting the implementation of a coherent innovation strategy with a clear impact on instruments, funding schemes, policies and regulations.

You can download and read the full Cefic position paper here.

Cefic believes that the overarching goal of the EIC should be to improve the framework conditions needed to stimulate an optimal and faster market uptake of innovations. The key priorities for the EIC should be to:
  • Optimise and simplify the instruments and funding schemes related to innovation in the European Union,
  • Improve the coordination of policies that impact innovation
  • Become the driving force to realise the objectives of the Innovation Principle, and 
  • Reinforce the perception of the benefits of innovation for the whole of European society. 
“Cefic welcomes all initiatives that can strengthen, simplify and increase the efficiency of the European framework for innovation,” said Dr Pierre Barthelemy, Executive Director of Research and Innovation at Cefic.

The EIC, as a high level advisory instrument, should have a clear value-creating role that safeguards a balanced innovation landscape, considering all stakeholders in the innovation chain (from research institutions up to both large and small private companies) and all sectors that are vital to the competitiveness of the European economy including the process industries, discrete manufacturing, ICT, and transport.

EIC proposal
The European Commission launched a public consultation to gather ideas for a European Innovation Council to support Europe's most promising innovators on 16 February and the call closed on 29 April 2016.

Positive steps have been taken in recent years to integrate an innovation component into EU programmes and policies, in particular Horizon 2020. However, the array of support mechanisms can be difficult to navigate, and lacks the flexibility and responsiveness that disruptive innovation requires.

Launching the call Commissioner Moedas (left) said that "Europe has excellent science, but we lack disruptive market-creating innovation. This is what is needed to turn our best ideas into new jobs, businesses and opportunities." While the number of start-ups created in Europe is on a par with competitors such as the United States, Europe lags behind in disruptive innovation and in scaling start-ups into world-beating businesses. A European Innovation Council could contribute to solving this problem.

More than 1000 replies and 170 supporting documents were submitted in response to the European Commission's call for ideas and a first analysis shows that over 80% of respondents agree or strongly agree that the lack of disruptive market-creating innovation is an obstacle to growth in Europe. Many commented that although there is a wealth of good ideas and skilled people and many promising start-ups, companies are struggling to scale up.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

SusChem Stakeholder 2016: Sustainable Water Solutions

This year’s SusChem stakeholder event takes place on 16 June in Brussels. One of the areas for discussion at the stakeholder event will be Water. In this blog Henk Pool, Cefic Innovation Manager responsible for this SusChem priority area, outlines the field, its many areas of innovation for sustainable chemistry and how you can participate in the discussion at #suschem16.

Water is was one of the five SusChem priority areas for innovation. The European Commission’s action plan for ‘Closing the loop - An EU action plan for the Circular Economy’ translates literally to the realm of the chemical industry and its customers. Development of technologies enabling closing of water loops are highlighted in the two SusChem inspired European PPPs - Sustainable Process Industry through Resource and energy Efficiency (SPIRE) and Bio-Based Industries (BBI) – and are working to enable industry to seize the opportunities offered by water innovation programmes.

In the spring of 2016 SusChem set up a working group of water experts from industry to identify and develop the SusChem ‘Water Innovation Agenda’ at a European level and to build the base for future funding calls, projects and collaborations.

Water and Sustainable Chemistry
Water is a scarce resource and a critical element for the development of our society and economy. The continuing increase in urbanisation and agricultural production combined with new demands from the development of biobased and eco-industries and the need to preserve biodiversity and the natural ecosystem put high demands on water management. The chemical industry is a user of water but it is also an important solution provider of innovative products, technologies and services which can enable more sustainable water management. On this front, SusChem and the chemical industry are very active in the European Innovation Partnership Water (Water EIP).

Water is used in the chemical industry for many purposes including processing, washing, diluting and heating, cooling, and transporting product. The chemical industry aims at near-zero discharge of water by using closed-loop systems. The control of impurities in closed water systems needs a combination of real time monitoring tools and sensors, highly selective separation processes and new water treatments to prevent fouling and corrosion.

Water efficiency measures are also aligned with targets to reduce energy consumption: energy consumption is a critical indicator when developing new technologies for water management and water treatment.

Water symbiosis and delivery of ‘fit-for-purpose’ water are considered as key elements to ensure and enable the optimal and integrated (re)use of water not only for the chemical industry but also in collaboration with other sectors including urban and agricultural use.

Focus on Water Innovation
The new SusChem working group is currently completing its efforts and formulating recommendations, but broad areas for water innovation programmes already identified include:
  • Water sources & availability Sources of water which have not been widely used, are now increasingly considered as important sources including desalination, re-use of treated wastewater, rainwater harvesting and gas humidity condensation (such as cooling tower blowdown). Different technical options are in development to access these sources with their specific implementation strongly dependent on local conditions. Development of ‘tailor-made’ system solutions and scale up testing for robust industrial processes will be required.
  • Water treatment, reuse & resource recovery, and cross industry symbioses. ‘Fit for Purpose’ will become the driving force in water treatment and management. Developments required for full scale implementation of this new paradigm include:
    • Development of new chemical additives for water treatment to facilitate reuse. 
    • Economically effective solutions to remove and recover salts from industry water.
    • Development of advanced membrane technologies to increase selectivity, reduce energy use and reduce maintenance operations (fouling resistance).
    • Resource recovery (“circular economy”), development of novel highly selective and energy-efficient separation technologies to recover specific resources (e.g. phosphorous) from industry wastewater.
  • Water analysis including online analysis & process development. Making the next steps forward in closing loops in industry water systems will require development of water monitoring systems and tools that are able to analyse water quality and quantity constantly. These analytical tools combined with process control will allow the closing of the water loops. Specific attention to the development of analytical instruments capable of determining the level of water disinfection required (e.g. to tackle legionella bacteria) will be required. Full understanding of the process in combination with advance process control will allow optimised dosing of treatment chemicals. Today these chemicals are added at high levels as a preventative measure. Better monitoring can ensure appropriate, lower dosing.
  • Water distribution, in particular loss of water in distribution networks. Fresh water distribution systems can lose up to 20% of their water capacity due to leaks in their pipes and poor maintenance. Replacement of aging distribution infrastructure is expensive and/or impossible. The chemical industry has solutions that it would like to develop with partners along the value chain allowing retrofit leak repair of water distribution systems.
E4Water shows the way
A recently completed SusChem inspired and EU funded project E4Water has shown what is possible in the chemical and related sectors in terms of water management. At the project’s final conference in April 2016, new integrated approaches for efficient and sustainable water management were presented. Each of the six industrial case studies that formed the core of the project illustrated the ability to de-couple the growing economic activity of the chemical industry from actual water use. By carefully selecting the right water treatment and management processes and systems the six examples were able to demonstrate on an industrial scale who the chemical sector can enable water to be reused several times – our goal of near zero discharge of water is getting within reach!

You can download the final results brochure from the E4Water project here.

Water innovation potential
The European industry, led by the chemical industry, clearly has the opportunity to develop knowledge and solutions to radically reduce consumption of water and, as a consequence, reduce energy consumption too.

By developing these sustainable solutions Europe is gaining competitive advantage that can create new high-skilled jobs, while reducing its consumption of resources and energy, increasing its production capacity and continuing to create the innovative products that a changing global society excellent Moreover it shows how

SusChem inspired initiatives such as SPIRE are helping to make sustainable water use in a wide cross-section of European industries a reality. Close cooperation and alignment in the definition phases of the funding calls available under Horizon 2020 across all PPPs and all levels of stakeholder involvement is necessary to ensure that all the needs of the process industries are fully considered.

Stakeholder discussions
A highly interactive debate is expected at the Stakeholder event on 16 June and your questions and expectations on the outcomes for the panel debates, in particular on water treatment, reuse and management, are welcome in advance.

Registration for the 2016 SusChem Stakeholder event is now open. This dedicated registration website includes links to discounted accommodation at the Hotel Bloom in Brussels - the venue for the event.

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.

Monday, 23 May 2016

Introducing Henk Pool

Cefic Research and Innovation has recently recruited two Innovation Managers who will be heavily involved with SusChem activities over the next few years. Some members of the SusChem community will have met Anne Chloe Devic and Henk Pool prior to their secondment to Cefic and as they took up their duties for SusChem over the past few months. All stakeholders will have the opportunity to meet them at the 2016 SusChem Stakeholder event.

In two articles we are introducing both managers and asking them about what they are expecting to achieve for Sustainable Chemistry in Europe during their time with our platform. Today we talk to Henk Pool. 

Career highlights
After completing a Master’s degree in engineering degree at Twente University of Technology in The Netherlands, Henk Pool joined Dow Chemical’s R&D facilities at Terneuzen in The Netherlands in the late 80’s. Pool’s first industrial activities were application development with customers in the field of Styrene Polymers. He became a group leader for Dow’s Polystyrene (PS) R&D Team in Europe four years later. In this role Henk Pool joined Dow’s European business team for PS and Dow’s global PS technology team, travelled the (Dow) world and was directly responsible for a number of key research projects in Dow’s PS business portfolio.

In the very late 90’s Henk changed the direction of his career and joined Dow’s Corporate Six Sigma team at Dow’s Headquarters in Midland in Michigan USA for almost six years. Returning to the Dow facility in Terneuzen, he became responsible for the R&D finance and operations of one of Dow’s major business portfolios. By late 2008 the role of Director for the Terneuzen R&D laboratories had been added to his responsibilities. In 2010, Henk Pool also became Director of the R&D centre for Dow at the brand new King Abdullah University for Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia. He joined Cefic R&I department as an Innovation Manager in February 2016.

Henk Pool spends his free time between his family, sports (including cycling and running), home and garden improvement projects.

What is your view on Sustainable Chemistry? 
Sustainable Chemistry enables better use of available resources. Better use at each and every step in the value chain between feedstock materials and customers, like you and me, who are continuously using chemistry enabled products. As a matter of fact, sustainable chemistry does not stop there, but rather continues with post-product life reuse and recycle of products and materials. Sustainable chemistry helps improve our life, reduces our environmental footprint and addresses key societal challenges. For instance in energy and climate change chemistry is a key enabler in the development of wind and solar as alternative energy sources.

Too often I hear biobased products suggested as the only sustainable option. In my definition of Sustainable Chemistry biobased materials do not replace, but rather complement fossil-based materials.

What challenges do you foresee?
Continuing our current lifestyle and the pace of living by 2030 we would need approximately 30% more water, 40% more energy and 50% more food. This is clearly not sustainable and is a point on which, I hope, we can all agree. When we talk in terms of solutions, we mostly point at what others can or should do.

But what can “I” do in terms of sustainability and circular economy? The answer is relatively simple, more than you think and collectively more than we thought we could achieve. Sustainable Chemicals play an important role in all of this by enhancing properties, reducing environmental footprint and enabling our competitive position.

There are many key technological challenges ahead but we must be guided by the fact that sustainability is not an alternative, but the way to enhance our position and competitiveness. Eco-design should be the start of any new innovation project – we should always start with sustainability in the front of our mind.

How do you see your new role contributing to your view on Sustainable Chemistry?  
One of my responsibilities is a key and increasingly scarce resource: water. The chemical industry is both a user of water and also an important solution provider of innovative products, technologies and services which can enable more sustainable water management. Innovation is driving water use, enabling water reuse and enhancing water quality. SusChem inspired projects like E4Water are demonstrating at industry scale our ability to decouple economic activity and water consumption by closing water loops and enabling reuse of water in the chemical industry. I see an aspect of my role is disseminating these results, identifying barriers for implementation, defining opportunities and creating innovation momentum for much broader implementation across our and other sectors including EU policy development to support uptake.

What do you hope to achieve by the end of your three years at Cefic?
With the research and innovation team at Cefic I hope to further increase the involvement of the chemical industry in collaborative innovation projects. Collaborations between academia, RTOs, institutes and industry with the objective to share experiences, complement knowledge and accelerate development and implementation of potential “game changers” I terms of competitiveness and sustainability.

In particular I look forward to contributing to the new SusChem inspired project Veram. This unique project involves five European Technology Platforms (ETPs) working together to define a 2030 vision and 2050 roadmap for research and innovation programs in raw and precious materials.

What areas are you looking to collaborate with others and how do you prefer to be contacted?
I will be dealing with several aspects of the SusChem Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda (SIRA), including water and (critical) raw materials. I am looking at closely networking with experts in the industry, representing their needs and working with them on some valuable and important collaborative innovation programmes.

You can contact Henk Pool via email.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Introducing Anne Chloe Devic

Cefic Research and Innovation has recently recruited two new Innovation Managers who will be heavily involved with SusChem activities over the next few years. Some members of the SusChem community will have met Anne Chloe Devic and Henk Pool prior to their secondment to Cefic and as they took up their duties for SusChem over the past few months. All stakeholders will have the opportunity to meet them at the 2016 SusChem Stakeholder event.

In this and a subsequent article we introduce both managers and ask them about what they are expecting to achieve for Sustainable Chemistry in Europe during their time with the platform. Today we talk to Anne Chloe Devic.

Career highlights
Following two years of “Classes Preparatoires” in France, Anne Chloe got a Master’s degree in Chemistry and Chemical engineering specialising in Polymers from the Ecole Nationale Superieure de Chimie in Montpellier, France. She then started a professional ‘tour of Europe’ with a job at ICI (Imperial Chemical Industries) in the UK working as a research engineer in acrylic composites. Anne Chloe then moved to France where she managed a laboratory and process support team for the production of alkoxylates for surfactants before moving to a plant producing PMMA cast sheets where she was deputy site manager looking after quality, SHE and process. Her next country was Belgium and, still with ICI, she managed a team looking after all scale-up activities for their Polyurethane business which was subsequently purchased by Huntsman. She continued her tour of Europe with a move to Spain in 2002 were she worked as technology advisor in research and innovation for materials at Repsol based in Madrid. In that job, Anne Chloe got involved with the SusChem Spain board and the materials working group of SusChem Europe. She also got the chance to sit on the IRIAG (Industry Research and Innovation Advisory Group) and the partnership board of the SPIRE association – experiences that means she has absolutely the right profile for the job of Innovation Manager at CEFIC!

In her free time Anne Chloe is a keen sportswoman, enjoys travelling every year to visit her family in India, and she has a special interest in innovation in politics – for example new governance systems.

What is your view on Sustainable Chemistry?
Sustainability in developing chemistry solutions for societal challenges is not only about assessing and reducing the environmental impact of a process or a product. It is also about developing in parallel an added value for the customer. Sustainability is also about the life of a chemical product which needs to further reduce its different footprints in its use and its ability to be recycled. Sustainability of chemicals is also about positive impact on people’s health and well-being. For example, I see 3D printable prosthetics as the solution and best example of sustainable chemistry for easy access of these devices to a much larger number of disabled people – more than we could ever dream off just 10 years ago. Here there is triple sustainability: it is about the renewable biopolymer used for 3D printing, it is the lower price enabling increasing access, and the added value by enabling full adaptation to the individual human body.

What challenges do you foresee?
We will not win the battle for competitiveness, which is crucial for the European Chemical industry, if we don’t offer Sustainable Chemicals which have significantly enhanced properties compared to existing products. The market needs to see sustainability and added value together, which is a very big technological challenge for the years to come. The answer will be the use of eco-design of materials. However the methodology of eco-design needs to be standardised and systematised in all research and innovation organizations.

Another challenge is to get the messages through to the public that sustainability is not only about use of alternative feedstocks for products, like biomass for “bio-products”. It is also about, for example, using CO2 and by-products from effluents to convert to useful products.

How do you see your new role contributing to your view on Sustainable Chemistry?
My new role will hopefully enable companies that we (CEFIC) represent to do more Research and Innovation, helping the Horizon 2020 programme and other instruments to better respond to the industrial challenges we face and to find the right multi-disciplinary collaborations across countries, academics and companies that will enable customers and society in general to have a better life, in a more reasonable world run under a sharing and more resource, energy and CO2 efficient economy - the circular economy.

What do you hope to achieve by the end of your three years at Cefic?
I hope I will have contributed, together with my colleagues in the innovation team at CEFIC, to spread the innovation challenges messages of the chemical industry, as an intermediate and coordinator, so that the public, the companies, the Research and Technology Organisations, and the European Institutions have a better understanding of how Innovation in sustainable chemicals and materials can be placed in the right context in terms of policy and technology. And how they can be potential game changers for Europe. To be more precise I hope that the achievement will be: Compared to three years before, we can seeing more involvement in collaborative projects with a measurable impact and more innovative products close to the market from the European chemical industry.

What areas are you looking to collaborate with others and how do you prefer to be contacted?
I will be dealing with the area of Sustainable Materials and I am looking to gather experts from industry and research organisations in order to draw together the research and innovation challenges of the future – specifically Materials in the Circular Economy and Energy Union issues. We will also establish and confirm the current priorities within the review of the SusChem Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda (SIRA). I can be contacted for any proposed contribution you may have.

I am also coordinating the SusChem National Technology Platforms (NTPs) and will be looking to increase the number of NTPs - any organisation interested I setting up a new NTP can contact me - and how we can improve the existing network of 13 countries, exchanging real value between the European and national platforms.

You can contact Anne Chloe by email.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Wanted: Ideas for re-using CO2

The Climate-KIC flagship programme EnCO2re (Enabling CO2 re-use) working for sustainable production and circular economy has launched its first open call for proposals to the public. This call is aimed at projects that will begin in September (or earlier) and produce meaningful results within 2016. The selection process is two part, but to take part you need to be quick as the first submission deadline is 27 May.

EnCO2re will add new workstreams in the second half of 2016 and is looking for:

  • Projects related to any element of the CO2 value chain, from capture to conversion, and logistics
  • Organisations that bring industrial and/or start-up perspectives with pathways to commercialisation
  • Technologies and demonstrations for CO2-based products, especially intermediates and polymers
  • Business-model innovations that support the development of a CO2 re-use value chain
  • Other innovations, including incentives, that advance progress toward large-scale re-use of CO2

Two phase
The call is structured in two phases. The first phase requests a short Expression of Interest using a common template by 27 May.  In the EnCO2re Call profile you can find more details on the call.  You will find some help and guidelines for completing the EoI here.  Successful ideas that meet the call interests and requirements will be invited soon after 10 June to submit a full proposal by 1 July.

Because the programme is an open innovation programme and would like to be as inclusive as possible, all parties interested in joining enCO2re are urged to submit an EoI, even if they do not have a project that can begin in 2016.  All submissions should be emailed to Ted Grozier at Climate-KIC.

About EnCO2re
EnCO2re is an innovation and market development programme for CO2 re-use. Their vision is a balanced and prosperous market for re-used CO2, beginning with a focus on polymers and chemical intermediates. Their ambition is large-scale CO2 re-use through the establishment of a CO2 value chain.

EnCO2re was co-initiated by Climate-KIC and industry partner Covestro, forming a consortium of 12 European partners from industry and research sectors. The programme has a comprehensive approach towards CO2 re-use and comprises activities in technology development, product development, technology acceptance, ecological assessments and market development.

EnCO2re is pronounced like the French word encore, meaning “again,” in reference to the re-use of CO2 the programme aims to enable.

The initial open innovation consortium consists of 12 European partners: Bayer Technology Services, Chalmers University of Technology, Covestro, Imperial College London, Johanneberg Science Park, Engie Labs, Mines ParisTech, RWTH Aachen, TU Berlin, TU Delft, University of Copenhagen and Wuppertal Institut.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

SusChem Stakeholder 2016: ICT and #DigitiseEU

This year’s SusChem stakeholder event takes place on 16 June in Brussels. One of the major areas for discussion at the stakeholder event will be advances and issues in information and communication technologies (ICT) in the process industries. Martin Winter, Cefic Innovation Manager responsible for this SusChem priority area, outlines some of the issues up for debate and where your input is sought.

ICT for process was one of the five priority areas for innovation identified at our successful 2015 Stakeholder event. The recent European Commission communication on ‘Digitising European Industry – Reaping the full benefits of a Digital Single Market’ highlighted the role of the SusChem supported PPPs - Sustainable Process Industry through Resource and energy Efficiency (SPIRE) and Bio-Based Industries (BBI) - to help industry seize the new opportunities offered by ICT enabled innovation.

On 10 March SusChem organised a workshop involving around 20 ICT experts from companies and academia to discuss ‘Digitisation’ on the European level and to build the base for future funding calls, projects and collaborations.

SusChem, Process ICT and #DigitiseEU
From new forms of production to innovative business models the process industry is about to experience a revolution enabled by digital technologies.  Digitisation is expected to have a high impact on modernising Europe's production capabilities and can boost European process industries in the race for global competitiveness and sustainability.

The European chemical industry is a strong contributor to the roots of the European economy. Digitisation is already present in all aspects of the sector’s activities as it is essential from logistics, product and process design, planning, plant operations and plant safety to marketing/sales and customer integration.

In addition, smart materials developed by the chemical industry enable new and higher performing  ICT developments in printable-, wearable-, nano-electronics or 3D printing techniques and also allow more sustainable manufacture of new electronic devices avoiding material losses and waste generation.

To remain competitive, future factories will need well-integrated ICT systems as production increasingly uses digital innovations such as data capture, planning and control, modelling and simulation, cloud computing and big data analysis enabled by high performance computers and data connections. Data analytics will allow enterprises to convert data into knowledge, and effectively contribute to more efficient and safer processes with less environmental impact by more efficient management of resources, water and energy.

Focus for chemicals
With a focus on the manufacturing environment, important categories for further development for the chemical industry include:
  • Modelling, Simulation and Forecasting: Integration of modelling of single processes into production routes with modelling extended to all levels of automation, including scheduling and management systems as well as on-line decision making processes.
  • Real Time Data Availability: Development of hard- and soft-sensors for continuous processes that are reliable, fast, accurate and contact-less for use in intelligent self-optimising measurement systems along the whole production route and fully integrated in the plant automation environment.
  • Transformation of ‘Big Data’ into Lean Information: Identifying universal solutions for handling large amounts of data, methods to improve their reliability, techniques to assign them to product performance and explaining their practical meaning to all relevant applications.
  • Intelligent Self-learning Systems: Building models based on data and results, which continue to learn and broaden the scope of the models, based on closed loop performance monitoring.
  • Condition Based Advanced Maintenance: Developing tools and methods based on models, sensors, diagnosis and data analysis to allow remote control of equipment, prediction and prevention of failures, identification of trends and avoidance of efficiency losses and unwanted stoppages.
  • Product Quality Monitoring: Implementing integrated quality control factory-wide systems to monitor the evolution of quality across the production route by calling on information technology to better link process operations and plant logistics to give production flexibility.
  • Resource and Energy/ Lifecycle analysis (LCA): Enabling monitoring of environmental targets (energy / water use, CO2-emissions etc.) in all control systems as an additional set of constraints to optimise the overall sustainable performance.
  • Data Privacy: Developing advanced security solutions to prevent misuse of stored data and protect plant control systems or cloud-stored data from malicious attack.
  • Human-Machine Interface: Developing intuitive and user friendly interfaces for (plant)-managers, operators etc., information and their interpretation have to be available at all times in all locations.
Digital potential
However, digitisation has even greater potential to improve the European chemical industry. By using the full potential of high speed connectivity, the internet of things, cloud computing and cyber-physical systems in and for manufacturing, Europe can create new high-skilled jobs, reduce its consumption of resources and energy, increase its production capacity and continue to create the innovative products which a changing society needs.

SusChem inspired initiatives such as SPIRE are helping to make digitisation of European industries a reality. Close cooperation and alignment in the definition phases of the funding calls available under Horizon 2020 across all PPPs and all levels of stakeholder involvement is necessary to ensure that all the needs of the process industries are fully considered.

Stakeholder discussions
A highly interactive debate is expected at the Stakeholder event on 16 June and your questions and expectations on the outcomes for the panel debates, in particular on ICT and process issues, are welcome in advance.

Registration for the 2016 SusChem Stakeholder event is now open. This dedicated registration website includes links to discounted accommodation at the Hotel Bloom in Brussels - the venue for the event.

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.

Meet the Manager – Martin Winter
Martin is a chemist by education and received his PhD on a nanomaterial science topic in 1998 from the Max Planck Society before leaving for postdoctoral study at the Scripps Research Institute in the U.S. He joined Clariant in 1999 managing several innovation projects as Research and Development group leader and focusing on innovation and growth of new businesses. This included setting up external innovation activities through venture capital mechanisms. In addition a marketing and sales responsibility for one of Clariant’s start-up businesses brought him to Asia/Japan for a two year assignment. Since June 2015 Martin has been seconded from Clariant to Cefic in Brussels as an Innovation Manager responsible for driving the innovation agenda for the Chemical Industry.

His main area of responsibility is networking with the industry regarding their research and innovation priorities and connecting them with the European Commission’s funding instruments under Horizon 2020, for example, as the chemical sector’s representative in the SPIRE PPP. His main focus is on ICT, chemical process technologies and catalyst topics.

He likes to spend his free time with his family and is also an enthusiastic skydiver.

Friday, 13 May 2016

2016 European Intersectoral Summit on Research and Innovation (EISRI): Science, Media and Public Discourse

On 26 April 2016, Atomium – European Institute for Science, Media and Democracy (EISMD) organised the fourth edition of the European Intersectoral Summit on Research and Innovation (EISRI), entitled “Science, Media and Public Discourse”, together with the European Commission and the European Parliament. The event, held at the European Parliament in Brussels, brought together representatives from research, media, industry and political leaders to discuss how to engage with citizens and how to improve and renew the dialogue between civil society, science and policy makers in order to solve European complex challenges, especially in terms of healthcare, demographic changes, climate and economic issues. 

Europe is facing economic and social challenges and at the same time a shift in relationships between citizens and policy makers and an evolving understanding of democracy. Worldwide, the use of Internet and social media is changing the way people access information, communicate and select data. Better dialogue between science, media, citizens and policy makers is therefore crucial to ensure a more informed and responsible society and policy making, and to support the strengthening of the European innovation system. The Summit was opened by Nils Torvalds, MEP, Chair of REIsearch Policy Group (Atomium – EISMD) and Michelangelo Baracchi Bonvicini, President of Atomium – EISMD who highlighted that politicians should increase the dialogue with civil society and researchers to better implement their policies.

REIsearch outcomes
The first outcomes of REIsearch, a new ICT tool to bring science closer to society, were presented during the event and related to “First engagement and media campaign on chronic diseases.” REIsearch was proposed by the European Parliament as a Pilot Project to be a bridge that connects citizens, researchers and policy makers on topics linked to the scientific research and societal challenges that Europe will face in the years to come. Erika Widegren, Chair of the Advisory Board of REIsearch (Atomium – EISMD), stated that 44 different organisations and 12 media partners joined efforts in the initiative, and that around 70 articles were published during this initial campaign.

The presentation of REIsearch was followed by a session exploring the need to find new strategies and tools to promote inter-disciplinary, inter-sectoral, cross-national and systemic approaches to policy making, taking advantage of the knowledge and expertise developed by European researchers and the experience and needs of European citizens. Professor Jan Pierre Bourguignon, President of the European Research Council (ERC), said that the European Commission is committed to open science but warned that “we need to be careful with the huge amount of information on the Internet. We need to find reasonable ways to certify data and to educate citizens on how to select and distinguish good from bad data.”  Mairead McGuinness, MEP, Vice President of the European Parliament, added that a “critical questioning” is missing and that behind advances on science, “there are emotional societal challenges that need to be solved.”

Breakout session
Breakout sessions were organised during the event and focused on three key issues for the development of a competitive and inclusive European research area:
  • The Power of Knowledge: bridging the gap between science and policy to the benefit of society at large
  • Citizen Engagement in Europe: Challenges and Opportunities of a Changing Vision of Citizenship
  • The Power of Knowledge and Technology: bridging the gap between science, policy and society at large
Communication gaps between science and other parts of society may inhibit the impact of research results. At the same time, as data collection, processing, analysis and visualisation capacity grows, the ability to understand the complexity of socio-economic challenges, such as chronic diseases, migration, climate change, economic crises, etc., can be tackled by adopting a science approach or methodology, using ICT platforms to track, predict and influence the behaviour of highly interconnected systems.  One of the main objectives of the Summit was thus to discuss how science and technology can improve the transfer of that knowledge from research to policy, research to business and research to society, and how to improve dialogue, critical thinking and citizen engagement. In the words of Vladimír Šucha, Director-General, Joint Research Centre: “There is a tsunami of data, but it is crucial to increase critical analysis.” More data does not mean necessarily better policy answers.

Society is highly connected through networks, Internet and social media, “everything is connected”, highlighted Ralph Dum, Senior Expert, DG CONNECT - European Commission. However, a strong dialogue between government, society, science and industry still needs to be implemented. Citizen engagement on public debate and more effective ways of communicating research outcomes to policy makers are the way forward to have better policies and to solve European challenges based on a sound science evidence base.

For innovation
Speaking at the event, Pierre Barthelemy, Executive Director of Research and Innovation at Cefic, also highlighted the need for a better dialogue between civil society, the public and private sector, and defended the benefits of innovation to solve societal challenges. “We need innovation and innovation needs chemistry,” he said, alluding to the fact that the chemical industry is an enabler of innovation in many other industrial sectors.  Innovation is one of the most important drivers for growth and sustainable development and that is why more innovation driven programmes, such as Horizon 2020, are fundamental. Without innovation, European industry loses its competitiveness and attractiveness for investment. However, “there is no innovation or progress without taking risks”, stressed Barthelemy, and risks must be properly assessed and managed.  He stressed that large amounts of information and data are easily accessible through modern IT tools, but that we lack the necessary critical review to ensure a balanced understanding of scientific issues.  He also called for the European Commission to adopt the innovation principle to ensure that “whenever legislation is under consideration, the impact on innovation should also be taken into full account in the policy and legislative process.”

In the closing session chaired by Jerzy Buzek MEP, Chair of the European Parliament’s ITRE Committee and former President of the Parliament, speakers included Robert Madelin, Senior Adviser for Innovation at the European Political Strategy Centre (EPSC), Ron Mobed, Chief Executive Officer of Elsevier and Jean-Pierre Clamadieu, Chief Executive Officer of Solvay and President of Cefic. He highlighted that Europe was still leading in science and innovation, in what he called an “ecosystem of innovation”, through industry’s collaboration with universities, laboratories, and research centres. There is, however, a gap between innovation and how the public perceives it in terms of solving many societal demands: “We are facing the challenge that innovation needs a better understanding, and media have the important role of bringing that knowledge, improving dialogue and critical engagement,” said Clamadieu. He also stated that the future of Europe depends on innovation and that the acceptance of innovation is essential in this regard. He called for policy makers to take the best available science into consideration and integrate it when making policy decisions. Industry, on the other hand, has the responsibility to engage in a transparent dialogue with media to inform both citizens and policy makers, concluded Clamadieu.

Key questions
The key questions the Summit addressed were specifically related to how to better communicate science to society and to policy makers, and how to improve the dialogue while promoting citizen engagement. Facing the huge amount of available data, thanks to the power of media and new technologies to disseminate information, critical analysis is fundamental not only to keep the seriousness of science but also to have different voices and needs integrated in public policies.  Questions related to crowd sourcing, data-sharing, data-access and research infrastructure were equally important.

Jerzy Buzek closed the event stating that “we should have optimism concerning innovation, even if innovation and science go too far in the wrong direction sometimes. Innovation makes our lives easier, but it should also make our lives more valuable.” He reminded participants of the importance of social responsibility for companies, and the vital role of the media in promoting a quality dialogue and demonstrating the positive aspects of innovation.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

SusChem Stakeholder 2016: Draft Agenda published

The draft agenda for the SusChem Stakeholder 2016 event (#suschem2016) has been published and registration is still open! 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.

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: Circular economy and the Energy Union and Digitisation.

The doors of the event will open from 08:30 with the first presentation opening and welcoming delegates by SusChem Secretary Flavio Benedito at 09:30.

Strategic topics related to SusChem funding and its programme will then be described by Rudolf Strohmeier, Deputy Director General of DG Research and Innovation followed by SusChem chairman Dr Klaus Sommer presenting 'Implementing the new SIRA: Status and priorities'.

After coffee, delegates will receive updates from our working groups on the SusChem Priorities. The briefings will be given by the Cefic Innovation Managers with responsibility for the respective priorities. Henk Pool will update us on Water, Martin Winter will describe progress in two areas - ICT for processes and Processes & Catalysis, the work of the Sustainable Bioeconomy group will be outlined by Flavio Benedito and progress in Materials for Energy management will be described by Anne Chloe Devic. Just before lunch delegates can catch up with the latest news from SusChem's network of National Technology Platforms (NTPs).

Plenary debates
The afternoon sessions will be dominated by two plenary discussions. The first plenary will look at the “Circular Economy” and be moderated by Pierre Barthélemy, Executive Director of Research and Innovation at Cefic. Contributions from the European Commission will come from Reinhard Buescher, Head of Unit 'Chemicals' at DG Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (GROW), Luisa Presta, Head of Unit 'Environmental Technologies' at DG Research and Innovation (RTD) together with a contribution from DG Environment (ENV).

On the industry side the panellists are Reinier Grimbergen, Director Science to Innovate at DSM, Gloria Gaupmann, Public & Regulatory Affairs Manager, Group Biotechnology at Clariant, Anton Valero, President at Dow Chemical Spain and Portugal, and Greet van Eetvelde, Head of Energy & Innovation Policy at INEOS.

The second plenary debate takes place after coffee and will cover “Energy Union & Digitisation.” Alexis Bazzanella, Head Research & Project Coordination at DECHEMA e.V. is the moderator and panellists for the Commission are Khalil Rouhana, Director for 'Components & Systems' at DG Communications Networks, Content and Technology (CNECT), Marie Donnelly, Director for 'Renewables, Research and Innovation, Energy Efficiency' at DG Energy (ENER) and Helene Chraye, Head of Unit 'Advanced Materials and Nanotechnologies' at DG Research and Innovation (RTD).

On the industry side are Jens Rieger, Senior Vice President at BASF and Peter Nagler, Head of International Innovation at Evonik Industries AG.

#suschem2016 will conclude around 17:00.

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.
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.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

SusChem Stakeholder 2016: Solutions for the Energy Union

This year’s SusChem stakeholder event takes place on 16 June in Brussels. One of the major areas for discussion at the stakeholder event will be energy and the contribution that sustainable chemistry can make to energy efficiency, new sustainable energy sources and the transition to a low-carbon economy. This article outlines some of the issues that will inform the debate in this area during the stakeholder event and for which we are seeking your input in advance.

The chemical industry needs energy in its processes and has a strong track record in reducing energy consumption through innovation and manufacturing excellence. In fact, since 1990, the chemical sector has effectively decoupled production from greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The European Commission’s Energy Union strategy, adopted in February 2015, dedicates one of its five dimensions to research, innovation and competitiveness. The integrated Strategic Energy Technology (SET) Plan plays a central role in a new European energy Research and Innovation approach designed to accelerate the transformation of our energy system.

Sustainable chemistry solutions
Advances in sustainable chemistry are key elements in achieving the objectives of the European Commission’s Energy Union and SET-Plan. SusChem’s Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda (SIRA) dedicates a chapter to the challenge of, and solutions for, Secure, Clean and Efficient Energy. The chapter covers energy efficiency in chemical processes and proposed solutions that are key to the competitiveness of the chemical industry. It also describes how the industry’s technologies and products contribute to energy efficiency and clean energy productions and storage for the wider society.

Examples of innovations that will contribute to further improving energy and resource efficiency in the chemical sector include:
  • Increased energy efficiency of process technologies through advanced high performance catalysis, process intensification, and advanced process modelling and control.
  • Better utilisation of alternative sources of carbon such as biomass, waste, and industrial gaseous effluents (including CO2).
  • Industrial symbiosis making connections with and across industries for improved energy and resource  efficiency via better valorisation of heat, improved water management and use of materials from waste and side streams.
Equally important are the solutions provided by the chemical industry to the development of a low carbon economy and energy efficiency in other sectors.

The chemical industry is a key solution provider in virtually all value chains, with technologies and advanced materials that enable Europe to be a world leader in renewable energy such as:
  • Advanced materials for sustainable production of renewable electricity including new composites for wind turbine blades and materials for photovoltaic technologies including recyclability of materials.
  • Advanced materials and technologies for renewable energy storage including materials for advanced batteries, chemical energy storage through advanced materials and process technologies (hydrogen and CO2 based energy carriers via power-to-gas and power-to-liquid technologies), and novel thermal storage of energy via phase change materials or via reversible thermochemical reaction.
  • In addition sustainable chemistry provides energy efficiency solutions for buildings such as advanced materials for thermal insulation, highly energy efficient lighting, and phase change materials for thermal storage. Chemistry is also key to better energy efficiency in water treatment, for example by development of advanced membranes for water purification.
  • Chemistry is also key to more sustainable transport systems by providing lightweight materials, materials for more fuel efficient tyres, advanced materials and process technologies for battery production and sustainable alternative fuels for transport including CO2 based fuels such as methanol, methane, gasoline and kerosene.
How to sustain success?
In order for the chemical industry to make an effective impact on the development of a low carbon economy, support for technology development (including to achieve breakthroughs) and an appropriate policy framework (to ensure market uptake) will be required.

A sustainability based approach for policy development involving the integration of all aspects of sustainability (environment, economy, social) and integration of lifecycle concept is essential to evaluate the impact of innovative technologies and the development of an effective strategy and policy framework.

Coherence and stability over time for the policy framework is critical to contribute fully to a sustainable economy and address climate goals This means that a variety of policies have to be developed in coordination such as those on energy, primary and secondary resources. Policy coherence in content and timing, as well as policy stability over time, is essential to establish a regulatory framework that enables investment in sustainable, resource efficient and innovative technologies. Uncertainty and extended timelines for policy decisions have negative consequences on the confidence of private investments in new, cleaner technologies. The regulatory framework is an essential element to ensure European leadership in innovation toward a low carbon economy.

Stakeholder discussions
A highly interactive debate is expected at the Stakeholder event on 16 June and your questions and expectations on the outcomes for the panel debates, in particular on energy issues, are welcome in advance.

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. The dedicated registration website 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.

For more information on registration, please contact the SusChem secretariat.

Friday, 6 May 2016

ProBIO event: Exploitation strategies for Bioeconomy Research

On 7 June representatives of Knowledge Based BioEconomy (KBBE) research and innovation projects are being invited to meet and discuss ‘Exploitation strategies for Bioeconomy Research proposals’ at an event organised by ProBIO, a Horizon 2020 project that aims to support and facilitate the exploitation of research project outcomes. The event will take place at the Stanhope Hotel in Brussels.

Participants will receive guidance on how to produce successful research proposals with a strong exploitation strategy element. The message from recent interactions between SusChem and European Commission representatives has reemphasised that clear exploitation strategies and an understanding of the potential market impact of research proposals is a vital element for success in Horizon 2020 funding.

Emma Holtz from SP Technical Research Institute in Sweden is the ProBIO team member in charge of providing tailored support for further research and innovation activities and also the event organiser.

“When coaching KBBE projects for ProBIO, we have observed how much uncertainty there is when it comes to market exploitation: many researchers are not aware of the potentials their achievements have to become products for the market or to serve as the starting point for new research,” says Emma.

“Too often, there is a lack of clarity as to the exploitation element of a research proposal, which hampers a proposal’s chances of success. With this clustering event we aim at addressing this area of uncertainty, by giving participants the tools (and sometimes the tips) which help them in developing a successful proposal. At our event, we will be showing bioeconomy projects how to access research funding, by giving them an overview on existing opportunities and financing schemes across the EU and national programmes.”

Keynotes and clustering
Among keynote speakers participating in the event, Alexandros Theodoridis from the BioHorizon project will present ‘Bio National Contact Points’ support to improve the quality of research project proposals’ as well as give hints on how to put together a good consortium.

Christine Bunthof from the Platform2 project will be introducing the platform of bioeconomy ERA-NET actions. Furthermore, exploitation experts at ProBIO will show the participants how to strengthen their project‘s exploitation potential in the early phase of application development by considering the market and potential end users, Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) as well as their choice of business model.

The meeting will also meant to act as a “clustering” event, as it will provide the opportunity for researchers across the bioeconomy area to meet up and discuss proposal writing in a neutral forum.

Participation is open to all project result owners from previous KBBE projects (FP7, Horizon 2020 etc) as well as other invited researchers planning to develop (or taking part in) competitive research project proposals with strong exploitation strategies.

For more information about the event and registration, visit the ProBIO website or contact Emma Holtz.