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Sunday, 31 July 2011

World Chemistry Congress kicks off in Puerto Rico

Academics and business leaders have come to Puerto Rico to attend three significant International Year of Chemistry 2011 events. The 43rd World Chemistry Congress, the 46th IUPAC (International Union of Pure & Applied Chemistry) General Assembly and the World Chemistry Leadership Meeting take place in San Juan, Puerto Rico from today (July 31) to August 7.

The 43rd World Chemistry Congress has the theme "Chemistry Bridging Innovation Between the Americas and the World” and will be a major event for the development of chemistry and related scientific and technological disciplines. The Congress includes plenary lectures, symposia, oral presentations, poster presentations, workshops, group meetings and an up-to-date scientific exhibition. Seven chemistry Nobel laureates will be joining the event as plenary speakers.

The World Chemistry Leadership Meeting will be held during the IUPAC 2011 General Assembly. A full-day event is planned for August 2 and Cefic President Giorgio Squinzi will give a keynote address at this event. The meeting will aim to identify new ways to accelerate the contributions of chemistry to Sustainable Development through innovative international collaboration between involving scientists from chemistry and the chemical related sciences, policy makers and social actors, including those with global responsibilities from the relevant UN agencies, and those who apply the science and who will develop the key technologies for tomorrow from industry. It will be a perfect opportunity for leaders from chemistry to set new priorities for the science.

Gernot Klotz of Cefic and SusChem will present at a session on employment and professional development for chemists. He will present the recent Cefic work on skills needs to improve innovation in the chemical industry.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Call for increased support for chemical innovation

SusChem board member, Gernot Klotz from Cefic R&I, has called for increased support for chemical innovation in an interview for an article published in Chemistry World today (July 29).

Klotz welcomed the boost to total funding for calls in FP7 for 2012 (up 9% compared to 2011), but indicated that chemistry-related funding for basic research in the new package will remain at about the same proportional level as for previous FP7 calls. The main chemistry-related beneficiaries will include key enabling technologies such as nanotechnologies, advanced materials, biotechnology as well as environment and energy.

However, although he is pleased that the European Commission has emphasised the importance of innovation as the end goal of basic research in the 2012 call and in the thinking for the next Framework Programme now named Horizon 2020, Klotz feels that more concrete support for innovation is needed in terms of funding, policy alignment and coherence.

More support needed
‘Research does not equal innovation,’ he states. ‘We (Europe) have to work on innovation to be a world leader. Compared to the Asia-Pacific region and the US, Europe is not good at commercial deployment of knowledge, so we would like to see more action, not just more words. But the chemicals sector is ready to make big contributions.’

One area of innovation support that Klotz says is lacking is the ‘processing side,’ which includes conversion of feedstock into chemicals, pulp and paper, and metals. He says the chemicals sector is taking the lead in cooperation with other sectors in developing key technologies and is currently working on concrete proposals to improve resource and water efficiency, for using raw materials, and in creating so-called ‘smart cities’ of the future in a public-private cooperation.

He hopes that the Commission will strive to support the long process from basic research to innovation and commercial deployment. ‘Innovation is a chain that breaks at its weakest link and we have to speed up,’ Klotz says. ‘In addition (we) need to have very efficient research: no double research, working closely together, with explicit priorities.’

Call information, brokerage
Full information on all new FP7 calls, including the 2012 call, can be found at a new dedicated Participant Portal. This is now the entry point for all electronic administration of EU-funded research and innovation projects, and hosts the services for managing proposals and projects throughout their lifecycle.

Currently the portal covers mainly actions under FP7. In the future, its coverage will be extended to other programmes in the area of research and innovation.

The site has experienced some teething troubles, but technical issues are now said to be completely resolved.

And don't forget the SusChem Brokerage event that is taking place in Brussels on 14 September. This will be a great opportunity to get involved with SusChem-related FP7 projects in the latest call.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

BIOCHEM accelerates at Milan

BIOCHEM, the Europe-wide partnership co-funded by the European Commission to support companies entering the rapidly emerging market of bio-based products, will be staging an Accelerator Forum in Milan from 5 to 7 October 2011. The Forum will offer the chance to promote your organisation or company to an influential audience of biotechnology investors, entrepreneurs and other major players in the area.

The Accelerator Forum takes place at FieraMilanoCity as part of the LIFE-MED 2011 event. The BIOCHEM event is free but requires compulsory registration. Entry to the BIOCHEM Accelerator Forum will also allow participants access to LIFE-MED 2011.

Presentations at the BIOCHEM Accelerator Forum event will give a comprehensive briefing on BIOCHEM’s business support toolbox. This suite of business tools can help evaluate a company’s potential to enter and succeed in the bio-based market and boost innovation.

The meeting will also give an overview of the current status of the bio-based market in Europe and support for bio-based regional networks across the EU. Further presentations will describe examples of best practice in the sector and examine a number of EU-funded INNOVA projects (BIOCHEM is funded under this European Commission scheme).

Venture capital networking
As well as expert presentations the Forum offers the chance to present to a number of venture capitalists and other industry investors. A set of six formal company presentation sessions are envisaged. In addition One2One meetings can be arranged between potential collaborators or investors throughout the event.

The full programme for the Milan BIOCHEM Accelerator Forum can be found here together with registration here.

More information on the BIOCHEM Accelerator event can be obtained from Julie Gruchy at Europe Unlimited.

BIOCHEM background
Bio-based products are made from renewable, biological raw materials such as plants and trees. They are typically sold into market sectors such as bio-plastics, bio-lubricants, surfactants, enzymes and pharmaceuticals. BIOCHEM aims to improve the innovation capacity of bio-based chemistry start-ups and SMEs. It provides a business support toolbox for entrepreneurs to assess their potential to enter the bio-based products market and to assist in boosting innovation capacity.

The BIOCHEM toolbox provides bio-based market information, individual audits, coaching, and business planning elements. To support the toolbox a European online partnering and innovation resources system to find the right research and business partners, test facilities and experts everywhere in Europe is also available.

LIFE-MED 2011 is recognised as a reference point for Life Sciences in the Mediterranean region and has three components:
  • NUCE INTERNATIONAL - the international fair for the Nutraceutics, Cosmeceutics, Functional Foods & Drinks and Health Ingredients industry
  • BIOTECH - the international event and conference on biotechnologies
  • ALGAE EUROPE - the fair-conference on production technologies and industrial applications for algae culture.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

FP 7 billion!

Today (19 July) Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn announced nearly €7 billion to kick-start innovation through research. This is the European Commission's biggest ever Research and Innovation funding package and covers the 2012 call for project proposals under the current EU Seventh Framework Programme for Research (FP7).

The funding boost (a 9% increase compared to the FP7 calls in 2011) shows that EU research funding is at the top of the European political agenda and is at the centre of a coherent innovation strategy: the Innovation Union.

The Commission adopted the 2012 work programme today (19 July) with most of the calls being formally launched tomorrow (20 July). Deadlines for application will be spread over the rest of 2011 and decisions on allocating funding will be taken in 2012. The work programme and full set of associated documents can be found here.

"Today, Europe is again showing its commitment to putting research and innovation at the top of the political agenda for growth and jobs," said Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn (above) at a press conference to launch the funding package. "EU-wide competition for these funds will bring Europe's best researchers and innovators together to tackle the biggest issues of our time, such as energy, food security, climate change and our ageing population. The Commission is proposing a significant increase in research and innovation funding for our Horizon 2020 programme post-2013 and I want to show taxpayers already with the calls we are announcing today our determination to get the best value for every euro."

The text of the Commissioner's speech is available here or you can watch it below.

R&I for growth and jobs
The main focus of the FP7 2012 calls is the integration of research with innovation to tackle societal challenges and create sustainable EU jobs and growth in the key technology markets of the future. The consequence of this investment is expected to be some 174000 jobs in the short-term and nearly 450000 jobs and nearly €80 billion in GDP growth over 15 years.

A key element will be the provision of more support to activities that help bridge the gap between research and the market, for example by demonstrating that new technologies have commercial potential or can work on a sufficiently large scale to be industrially viable. This market-linked approach is also central to the European Innovation Partnerships (EIPs), set up under the Innovation Union action plan, that will be supported by FP7 projects.

In addition to the €7 billion allocated to conventional FP7 projects, some €1.6 billion will be available for calls associated with Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) such as EIPs, JTIs and other large scale initiatives.

Funding highlights
Funding headlines include:
  • €488 million for nanotechnologies (NMP) will focus on areas such as factories of the future, green cars and energy efficient buildings
  • Research and innovation for cleaner, safer and more efficient transport and mobility will get €313 million
  • €40 million is set aside for the "Smart Cities initiative" to help find more efficient ways to use energy and provide urban transport
  • €265 million is reserved for environment research to address major challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss or resource efficiency
  • €307 million to be invested in building a strong bio-economy that will improve production methods, create new industries and provide jobs
  • €656 million for health research (of which €220 million for healthy ageing challenges)
  • €1.3 billion for information and communication technology ICT (of which €240 million for healthy ageing challenges)
  • The European Research Council (ERC) get close to €1.6 billion including funding to bridge the gap between frontier research results and commercialisation under a “Proof of Concept” initiative
  • Around €900 million in support for researchers' mobility and careers will be provided through 'Marie Curie Actions' including €20 million for a pilot project to fund "European Industrial Doctorates", to stimulate entrepreneurship and cooperation between academia and companies
  • Finally, special attention will be given to SMEs, including a dedicated package of close to €1 billion

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Get ready for SusChem Brokerage event 2011!

SusChem is committed to helping you succeed in participating in EU Research and Innovation projects. With this in mind SusChem is organising its Annual Brokerage Event on September 14 2011 in Brussels. The event will give you the opportunity to present your project ideas and engage with possible collaborations in consortia.

The EU Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (FP7) is a key tool to enhance European research and innovation. The 2012 work programme and calls for proposals will be officially published on July 20 with Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn announcing the details at a press conference at midday on 19 July.

The July call for FP7 will be the largest R&I funding exercise launched by the Commission with calls for proposals to fund European research and innovation, totalling around € 7 billion. The Commissioner plans to boost innovation through research with the announcement of the first calls for proposals since the adoption of the Innovation Union flagship and will give details of the main fields of research and innovation to be covered. The main focus of these work programmes is the integration of research and innovation. Particular emphasis has been placed on SMEs.

In it to win it
SusChem's Annual Brokerage Event will focus on this call and will be held on Monday, September 14 between 10:00 and 16:00 at the Hotel Silken Berlaymont, 11-19, Boulevard Charlemagne, 1000 Brussels.

Don’t miss this opportunity! First project ideas will be presented, and speed-dating sessions will be organised in order to discuss possible collaboration in consortia.

To be best prepared for the brokerage event, SusChem has already compiled an overview of the expected chemistry, industrial biotechnology and materials SusChem relevant calls of the following 2012 work programmes:
  • Nanosciences, Nanotechnologies, Materials and new Production Technologies (NMP)

  • Knowledge Based Bio-Economy (KBBE)

  • Energy

  • Environment
For more information visit the SusChem website and for an impression of last year's brokerage event see our report on the blog. The SusChem Brokerage Database is also available online to facilitate consortium building.

For more information on EU funding opportunities and partners searches, please contact either Ron Weerdmeester or Judith Spaltman at PNO Consultants.

FP7 PPPs: An EU R&I Success Story?

This week (11 and 12 July) over 950 registered delegates met in Brussels to network, discuss past progress and future funding for the EU’s initial Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) on Factories of the Future (FoF), Energy Efficient Buildings (EeB) and the Green Car initiative in Brussels. The three PPPs seem to have worked well, increased industrial participation in FP7 and worked in a fast, efficient and flexible manner. More PPPs are planned as part of Horizon 2020.

The event held at the Charlemagne Building supported the preparation of proposals for the third tranche of cross-thematic coordinated calls by these research PPPs.

In his opening addresss Rudolf Strohmeier, Director-General of DG Research & Innovation, noted that €3.2 billion had been invested so far in the three existing PPP programmes, and a further €480 million of EU funding was available for the next call with deadline 1st December 2011. Projects responding to calls launched under the three PPPs have been characterised by significant industrial (including SME) participation compared to conventional FP7 projects.

Industry re-engaged
Massimo Mattucci speaking for the Factories of the Future PPP said that “Industry had re-engaged in FP7 through the PPPs” and that the PPP research roadmaps reflected industry needs.

Wolfgang Steiger of Volkswagen and the Green Cars initiative said that FP7 PPPs are “a real success story: an efficient, fast model that produces results.”

Jose-Lorenzo Valles from DG R&I endorsed the focus on industry in PPPs but stressed that the FP7 PPP calls were open to all. Overall the success rate for project proposals for PPP calls was higher (~20%) than for conventional FP7 projects. PPPs were of high added-value for competitiveness, more flexible (faster) than JTIs, and brought EC & industry together, with industry able to commit to long-term R&I investment.

Bruno Smets from Philips and EeB said PPPs were “not business as usual” They represent a true value chain approach. It was important to create a market and listen to the voice of the user. But improving the dissemination of programme results to whole value chain was very important.

Many speakers indicated that accurate measurement of the impact of the PPP work was important for the future. There was also a need to refine the governance of PPPs to allow for long term stability.

To coincide with the Information Days a new brochure has been published highlighting progress in the PPPs and including indicative information on the upcoming July 2011 calls for the FoF, EeB and Smart Cars PPPs.

Future of PPPs
Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn delivered the closing address at conference saying: "I am sure you will be very pleased to hear that the draft legislative proposal in preparation for Horizon 2020 will address the use of Public-Private Partnerships. It is important that there is a place for large-scale strategic actions such as PPPs with the critical mass to reach their objectives"

She also indicated how criteria for selecting the industry sectors that are most suitable for future PPPs are developing. Criteria should include:
  • Clear added value by acting at the European level

  • Demonstration of sufficient scale of impact on industrial competitiveness, sustainable growth and/or socio-economic issues

  • A long-term commitment from all parties based on a shared vision and clearly defined objectives

  • The scale of the resources involved in the proposal, and the ability to leverage additional investments in research and innovation

  • Clear defined roles for each of the partners and agreed key performance indicators
The full text of the Commissioner’s speech can be accessed here.

Herbert von Bose of DG Research had also underlined some essential characteristics for future PPPs. Commitment from industry was essential and the proposal had to be “more than just doing business together”. The Commission needed to easily understand what the ultimate goal of the PPP is – essentially what are the measurable economic or environmental impacts or objectives. PPPs need both a technology and a business roadmap. The critical question to answer is: “What does the proposed R&I investment (i.e. EU funding) bring to the citizen and society?”

Friday, 1 July 2011

Major funding boost for Horizon 2020 welcome

Proposals for the European Union’s Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) 2014-2020 published this week include a significant boost in funding for research and innovation activities. The Horizon 2020 Framework Programme could be worth €80.2 billion if the European Commission submission gets through negotiations with other European Institutions intact.

This level of funding represents a 46% increase for Horizon 2020 compared to the budget for FP7 which is worth some € 56 billion for 2007 to 2013. In addition Horizon 2020 will be complemented by significant support from the EC Structural Funds.

Commenting on the budget proposals Ger Spork, SusChem coordinator at Cefic said: “SusChem and its stakeholders support the closer integration of research, development and innovation activities proposed for the new Horizon2020 programme. The boost to funding for the programme suggested in the draft EU budget for 2014-2020 is vital to ensure smart inclusive growth and maintain competitiveness.”

In a statement announcing the budget proposal, the Commission confirmed that the increase is meant to boost Europe’s economy and demonstrates continuing commitment to research, science and innovation.

"This is an anti-crisis budget, a pro-jobs budget and a budget for tackling our biggest challenges—things like climate change, energy and food security, health and our ageing population,” said Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, European Commissioner for Research and Innovation. “It's a pro-growth budget and more growth means less austerity for less long.”

What is new for Research?
The Horizon 2020 programme will cover three existing research and innovation instruments: FP7, the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme and the European Institute for Innovation and Technology. It will be closely linked to key sectoral policy priorities such as health, food security and the bio-economy, energy and climate change.

On the financing side, innovative financial instruments will help leveraging private investments. Public Private Partnerships, as well as Public to Public Partnerships, will be promoted. Funding schemes will be standardised and simplified. Likewise, there will be one single set of rules for participation, audit, support structures, dissemination of results and reimbursement schemes, across all funding schemes.

Budget negotiations
The budget proposal will now be passed on to the European Parliament and the European Council, which will have to approve or amend it. Negotiations between the Commission, Parliament will continue through 2012.

The MFF translates into financial terms the EU's political priorities for at least 5 years. It sets annual maximum amounts (ceilings) for EU expenditure as a whole and for the main categories of expenditure (headings). By specifying the spending limits for each category of expenditure, the MFF imposes budgetary discipline and ensures that the Union's expenditure develops in an orderly manner within the limits of its own resources and in line with Union's policy objectives. In addition, this system ensures a predictable inflow of resources for the Union's long-term priorities and gives greater certainty to beneficiaries of EU funds.