At the end of May the European Commission launched a new pilot scheme called the Innovation Deals. The scheme aims to help innovators with promising solutions to environmental issues to navigate regulatory challenges to bring their ideas to market. The initiative was introduced in the margins of the Competitiveness Council meeting that took place on 26 May 2016 by Frans Timmermans, the Commission's First Vice-President, and Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation.
On May 26 an open invitation was published by the Commission for expressions of interest from projects with strong potential to contribute to the EU's Circular Economy Action Plan. The selected projects will benefit from access to a close cooperation framework bringing together national, local and EU regulatory bodies to help navigate regulatory requirements. This pilot scheme is intended to support innovative ideas for maintaining the value of products, materials and resources in the (circular) economy.
What is an Innovation Deal?
Innovation Deals (IDs) will allow innovators to swiftly address legislative obstacles, shortening the time between their moment of inspiration and market uptake. Innovation Deals will take the form of a voluntary cooperation between the EU, innovators, and national, regional and local authorities. No funding for the preparation or implementation of IDs will be made available by the Commission.
The main aim of an Innovation Deal is to establish an in-depth understanding and clarification of how an EU rule or regulation applies. If a rule or regulation is confirmed as an obstacle to innovations that could bring wider societal benefits, the Deal will make the block visible and feed into possible further action.
The Innovation Deals platform will not jeopardise or compromise any environmental, social or competition principles, existing standards, or national legislation. The Deals aim to be an innovation in how the Commission works, helping to form a more modern and responsive administration in line with the Commission's Better Regulation Agenda.
Invitation to innovation
The call for Expressions of Interest (EOI) for the pilot phase of the ‘Innovation Deals for a Circular Economy’ opened on 26 May and will close on 15 September 2016. Up to five Expressions of Interest will be selected between October and December and will become Innovation Deals. Signature of the selected Innovation Deals is envisaged for the beginning of 2017 with an evaluation of the project being made in mid-2018.
In addition, up to ten Innovation Deals may originate through the Horizon 2020 Calls CIRC-01 (Systemic, eco-innovative approaches for the circular economy: large-scale demonstration projects) and CIRC-02 (Water in the context of the circular economy) that have been announced as part of the Work Programme 2016/2017 under the identifier ‘Industry 2020 in the Circular Economy’.
Applicants will be asked to outline their innovations and identify where they think EU regulatory frameworks are causing a block in getting their innovation to market.
The application to submit Expressions of Interest can be found here.
The chemical sector itself is also working with the Commission to identify regulatory barriers that are hindering the deployment of innovative technologies (both technologies developed by chemical companies or that could be implemented in the chemical sector). The scope of these regulatory issues includes those relevant to the Circular Economy and will to contribute to the sector’s discussions on Better Regulation with the European Commission in the future.