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Wednesday, 30 November 2011

SusChem welcomes Horizon 2020 proposals

Today (November 30) the European Commission's proposal for Horizon 2020 - a key component in implementing the Innovation Union flagship under the Europe 2020 strategy - was published. The European Commission communication outlines an ambitious research and innovation programme that reflects much SusChem thinking. SusChem looks forward to supporting and fully engaging with the Horizon 2020 programme.

At the press conference to launch the 350 page programme proposal Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn described the Horizon 2020 as: “A new vision for European research and innovation in a dramatically changed economic environment. Horizon 2020 provides direct stimulus to the economy and secures our science and technology base and industrial competitiveness for the future, promising a smarter, more sustainable and more inclusive society."

She also promised that Horizon 2020 will allow "more research with less bureaucracy" by slashing red tape to reduce time to grant by 100 days compared current EU programmes.

SusChem response
Responding to the communication Gernot Klotz Executive (right) Director of R&I at Cefic and SusChem board member said: “SusChem and the chemical industry fully support this EU-wide approach to research and innovation. The significant increase in the proposed budget in comparison to FP7 is particularly welcome, especially in the area of innovation.”

“Horizon 2020 has a focus on output rather than being over prescriptive,” Klotz continued. “We support the use of bridging actions to coordinate programmes and the inclusion of pilot plant and scale-up activities that are vital to moving ideas into the market quickly.”

Such Horizon 2020 initiatives include European Innovation Partnerships (EIPs) and Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) that incorporate both research and innovation activities. SusChem is involved with the development of four proposed innovation initiatives namely, water-efficiency, resource efficiency, critical raw materials, smart cities and is especially pleased to see references in the Horizon 2020 communication in these areas that strongly reflect SusChem thinking in these areas.

SusChem is also very happy to see the strong commitment in Horizon 2020 to develop and support the concept of Key Enabling Technologies (KETs) and will contribute strongly to this area especially on advanced materials, biotechnology and nanotechnologies.

Fit for innovation
To accelerate the EU out of economic crisis SusChem believes that the whole value chain (from advanced materials and processes to consumer-focused industries) needs to be stimulated simultaneously. Horizon 2020 must support and catalyse this innovation process.

The proposals for a single set of rules for participation and dissemination are attractive, but often drivers for research and innovation are different. “We need to make sure that the research-orientated instruments used in Horizon 2020 are fit-for purpose,” says Klotz. “They also need to pass a ‘fitness-check for innovation’ and, if necessary, be adapted to ensure they address issues such as value chain inclusion and speed of implementation.”

“European Technology Platforms (ETPs), such as SusChem, could help here,” says Klotz. “The formation of advisory groups involving relevant ETPs and other stakeholder could ensure funding is most appropriately and beneficially allocated. We also think that ETPs should now function as EU Technology and Innovation Platforms covering research and innovation and education – all three components are vital for future economic success.”

SusChem is already heavily involved in establishing cross platform and cross sector research and innovation initiatives. For example it has worked closely with others to build the basis for a proposed EIP on a ‘Water Efficient Europe’ that will offer both technological solutions and the opportunity to rethink water use in Europe. The aim being to ensure water quality that is appropriate to its use is available and make sure that for this increasingly scarce resource in Europe ‘every drop counts’.

Horizon 2020
Horizon 2020 promises to be a radical departure from current EU research funding. It aims to modernise and simplify support for research and innovation around three major objectives: excellent science, competitive industries and better society.

It will focus its investments on addressing major concerns shared by all European citizens such as climate change, affordable renewable energy and ensuring a sustainable future. The proposed budget for Horizon 2020 is €80 billion and the programme will run from 2014 to 2020.

The European Commission and European Parliament members are supporting or looking to increase Horizon 2020’s proposed budget, however a number of Member States are advocating lower expenditure. An extended negotiation will now take place before programme budgets are finalised.

More information
A press summary of the Horizon 2020 proposal can be found here and a more detailed memo summary found here. The full European Commission communications on Horizon 2020 proposal communication can be downloaded here from the revamped Horizon 2020 website. To view a recording of the Commission press launch click on the embedded video link below or on the EBS website here. This video link may not be functional after December 6.

A powerpoint presentation on the Horizon 2020 proposal is also available.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Innovation for Europe. Ready? Steady? Go!

Innovation is key to future economic and ecological sustainability in Europe. And the chemical industry is a key driver of innovation. Now, more than ever, Europe needs innovative industries and they need Europe. On 22 November, as part of Cefic’s major public exhibition ‘Tomorrow Starts with Chemistry’ at the Palais des Academies in Brussels, a workshop involving policy makers, media and young students discussed how a new European model of innovation could be constructed and what it could achieve for society.

From the presentations and discussion it is clear that a new European model of innovation is possible, but requires increased levels of communication, collaboration and creativity to complement technological change. Fortunately, Europe has a history of collaboration and a track record of engaging with complexity at technical, cultural and human levels. With the right support and framework the new model can tackle our societal challenges in a smart and inclusive manner for the benefit of all.

Speakers from Cefic and SusChem outlined a number of proposed innovation programmes. The debate was moderated by SusChem Newsblog editor Tim Reynolds of Inta Communication (right below). First Gernot Klotz, Executive Director for Research & Innovation at Cefic (left below) explained what innovation means to the industry and the need for change in technologies and mind set, from both private and public partners, to face many societal challenges faced by Europe.

Chemistry innovation
Compelling examples that demonstrated the leading role of the chemical sector in driving innovation in the four priority areas chosen by SusChem, and how some of the challenges can be addressed were provided by the next speakers. Patrick Francoisse of Solvay (second left below) talked about the ‘Smart Cities’ initiative, while Mike Pitts of the UK’s Chemical Innovation Knowledge Transfer Network (third from left below) described how we can satisfy the needs of 9.5 billion people on one planet through better use and reuse of critical raw materials.

Felix Mueller of Evonik Industries (third from right above) outlined the potential for the process industries to further improve resource efficiency and effectively “do more with less” through the proposed major Public Private Partnership (PPP) (SPIRE). Finally Antonia Morales Perez from Cefic (second from right above) described the chemical industry as simultaneously one of the biggest water-consuming industries, and one of the biggest providers of water treatment materials and technologies. The “Water Efficient Europe” European Innovation Partnership (EIP) has to adopt a symbiotic approach reusing and recycling water, and improving water treatment methods to recover raw materials and achieve sustainable production of appropriate qualities of water for appropriate use.

Communicate, collaborate, create
A subsequent interactive panel discussion featured Herbert von Bose, Director of Industrial Technologies at the European Commission DG Research (second right below), journalist Laura Shields of The Media Coach (second left)and chemistry student David Dupont from Leuven University (left).

All contributors agreed that there was a need to have a clear innovation agenda and to communicate widely: communication was the first step towards collaboration – and without collaboration there could be no opening of minds, no implementation and no creativity – no matter how wonderful the new technology was. Bringing different players together is very important and innovation must be driven by needs. High hopes were put on the chemical industry in Europe, as a global leader that interacts with virtually all other sectors and value chains, to provide solutions. It was therefore well placed to inspire and lead innovation.

For European innovation to be more successful and adopted by society, we need to focus not so much on techniques and technologies, but more on the outcome - the end-result - from a user point of view. To achieve this needs new ways of communication, collaboration and a cultural change of mind set is essential to give Europe a real sustainable advantage in global competition.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Horizon 2020: Proposal Next Week

On November 30, the European Commission's proposal for Horizon 2020 - a key component in implementing the Innovation Union flagship under the Europe 2020 strategy - will be published. And SusChem News will be reporting on its launch.

Horizon 2020 promises to be a radical departure from current EU research funding. It aims to modernise and simplify support for research and innovation around three major objectives: excellent science, competitive industries and better society.

It will focus its investments on addressing major concerns shared by all European citizens such as climate change, affordable renewable energy and ensuring a sustainable future. The proposed budget for Horizon 2020 is €80 billion and the programme will run from 2014 to 2020.

SusChem News will bring you the highlights of the new programme and reaction on 30 November and will provide details of how to access live press launch coverage when that becomes available. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Smart Cities: Cefic supports Covenant of Mayors

As part of its work in support of the ‘Smart Cities’ policy area, Cefic has become an associated member of the Covenant of Mayors . The Covenant of Mayors is the mainstream European movement involving local and regional authorities that are voluntarily committed to increasing energy efficiency and use of renewable energy sources in their urban areas.

The vast majority of Europe’s citizens live in cities and policy issues in urban areas represent a microcosm of the general issues facing society, but intensified and accelerated. These issues include reducing energy consumption, encouraging greater use of renewable energy sources, adaptations of transport and other infrastructure to meet changing needs whilst improving mobility of the population, amongst other objectives on health and education. And all achieved at competitive cost and in an environmentally sustainable manner.

To achieve true ‘smart living’ in the future will require major joint public and private efforts to tackle the significant technical and societal issues. To help address these issues a Smart Cities European Innovation Partnership (EIP) has been proposed that Cefic and SusChem have a strong interest to participate in.

What are ‘Smart Cities’?
Smart cities go beyond the EU’s “20-20-20” objectives (20% reduction in CO2 emissions, a 20% share of energy from low carbon sources and a 20% reduction in the use of primary energy through energy efficiency measures) for the deployment of cost-effective low carbon technologies.

Many cities across Europe are already committed to building tomorrow’s cities today - in particular the Covenant of Mayors. This group of city authorities is developing a sustainable development framework that will allow them to voluntarily go beyond the 2020 targets. To achieve this, the group works closely with the EU to drive innovation across a variety of sectors. In many ways city authorities have more power and opportunity to implement the Kyoto agreement than national governments.

SusChem has already been involved with ‘smart living’ projects that connect research and industrial groups along the value chain such as its Smart Energy Home initiative, the Energy Efficient Buildings PPP and the Building UP Coordination Support Action (CSA). Chemical research and innovation are essential to achieving smart living and smart cities will benefit from the early and in-depth involvement of the chemicals sector. Essentially chemistry’s contribution to smart living is to enable “doing more with less”.

The Smart Cities EIP was one of the topics discussed at Cefic’s public workshop on European innovation at the ‘Tomorrow Starts with Chemistry’ event at Palais des Academies, Brussels on 22 November.

For more information on Cefic/ SusChem’s involvement with Smart Cities contact Ed d’Hooghe at Cefic.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Innovation for Europe: Ready? Steady? Go?

At a time when our society is facing many challenges, now, more than ever, Europe needs industry and industry needs Europe. Innovation will be instrumental if we are to reach the ambitious objectives of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. As part of the major ‘Tomorrow Starts With Chemistry' event (see details below) at the Palais des Académies in Brussels, Cefic Research & Innovation is organising an open discussion on European innovation, its potential and practical achievement.

The discussion takes place from 13:30 to 16:00 on Tuesday 22 November, is free, and open to everyone with an interest in Europe’s future prosperity and growth.
The road from new ideas (“invention”) to their market uptake and their broad availability (“innovation”) is not easy. A series of policy and funding instruments such as the Innovation Union, Horizon 2020 and Key Enabling Technologies, have been and are being articulated by the European institutions with the objective of providing a stimulating framework for innovation in Europe.

It is therefore essential to understand and discuss how the various actors, such as the public and private sectors (at EU, national, regional and local levels), academia and civil society, could put this framework into practice for the benefit of all. We all have a responsibility and a role to play in enabling the huge European innovation potential to create greater value in and from Europe.

Join us!
So join us for an exciting and interactive discussion on 22 November on 'Innovation for Europe: Ready? Steady? Go?' The debate will be spiced with concrete examples from four societal priorities: water efficiency, resource efficiency, raw materials and smart cities.

The discussion will be both informative and challenging - voicing innovative and practical ways forward for Europe.

Talking innovation and chemistry
The debate will be kicked off by Gernot Klotz of Cefic who will tell us ‘What does innovation mean to the chemical industry?’ He will then be followed by four speakers who will briefly outline the potential for chemical innovation in four key areas:
  • Smart cities - Patrick Francoisse (Solvay)
  • Raw materials - Mike Pitts (CIKTN)
  • Resource efficiency - Felix Mueller (Evonik)
  • Water efficiency – Antonia Morales (Cefic)
This will set the stage for a panel discussion moderated by Tim Reynolds of Inta Communication Ltd followed by an open discussion where questions from the audience will be encouraged.

The panel discussion will feature:
  • Herbert von Bose (European Commission, DG RTD)
  • William Neale (Cabinet of Commissioner Potocnik) (tbc)
  • Edit Herczog (MEP) (tbc)
  • Laura Shields (media)
  • David Dupont (young student)
Before and after the debate, you can enjoy the exhibition “Tomorrow starts with Chemistry” showing some great chemistry innovations for today and tomorrow!#TSWC
The future starts tomorrow – and it begins with you. Come and join us as we celebrate the International Year of Chemistry 2011! From 21 to 23 November, the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic) welcomes you to Tomorrow starts with Chemistry, an exciting three-day event and interactive exhibition in the Palais des Académies in Brussels. For twitter aficionados #TSWC is the hashtag for this event, if you want to keep up with the latest news.

A highlight of the International Year of Chemistry, #TSWC will demonstrate to you the endless possibilities of chemistry and its creative versatility. Visitors will be able to explore the breadth of the chemical industry’s achievements and it’s forward looking thoughts.

At the heart of the event is an eye-catching exhibition highlighting three societal challenges: mobility, housing and water. #TSWC will emphasise the role that chemistry plays in providing all the necessary answers. The centrepiece will be a large see-through platform built from a series of transparent display boxes, each containing daily life objects or materials associated with high-tech development that shape our lifestyle now and in the future.

The spectacular Solar Impulse plane, countless demonstrations and breath-taking experiments such as the quick dry paint demonstration and 3D holograms describing mobility in the future guarantee an unforgettable experience. Chemistry students from local universities will be present throughout the event to act as guides. The future starts tomorrow – and it begins with you.

The exhibition is open from 9.00 to 17.00 from Monday 21 November to Wednesday 23 November and is free to enter. To find out more visit the #TSWC blog site at

Monday, 14 November 2011

Biorefinery Study Bridging Gap Between Research and Market

A study released at the European Forum for Industrial Biotechnology and the Bio-based Economy (EFIB) event in Amsterdam in October shows that Europe is well positioned to spearhead the development of a bio-based economy but must invest in demonstration activities to gain a competitive edge.

The “Biorefinery Feasibility Study” was launched by EuropaBio and nine partners, including DSM, Evonik, Genencor, Novozymes and Sud-Chemie, and undertaken by Dalberg Global Development Advisors. The study provides a blueprint for establishing integrated, demonstration scale biorefineries in the EU and recommends co-investments from public and private stakeholders to overcome the gap from research to market.

The “Integrated Biorefinery” concept was one of the original visionary projects described in SusChem’s Vision and Strategic Research Agenda. A cluster of FP7 projects are laying the knowledge-basis for such future bio-based facilities.

Vision, Value
Nathalie Moll, Secretary General of EuropaBio said: “The results present a vision, value chains and required capital investments, funding options, governance and implementation paths for demonstration biorefineries in the EU. These facilities are essential if we are to translate the full potential of our excellence in industrial biotech into smart, sustainable, marketable bio-based products and processes.”

The study provides a fact base on options and funding needs for demonstration biorefineries. It focuses on biotechnological conversion of agricultural residue, hard wood and energy crops into chemicals, materials and energy.

Biorefinery PPP?
According to the Dalberg study, diverse private sector interests mean competing sub-consortia of private and public stakeholders are likely to be most effective. The SPIRE PPP proposal that has been launched by the Resource and Energy Efficiency Partnership has included the topic of industrial biotechnology and biorefineries in their proposal and would provide excellent facilitation to access funding – including through Horizon 2020.

Other findings in the study include recommendations on the preferred location for biorefineries linked to synergies in co-location and feedstock availability. The study also outlines the need to focus on products with the highest added value, such as fuels and chemicals over heat and power, and to focus on funding for first-of-their-kind production plants and accessing funding to reduce risks to investors.

To find out more on the study and to access the full report contact EuropaBio either via Joanna Dupont-Inglis (Director, Industrial Biotechnology) or Rosalind Travers (Communications and Associations Liaison Officer).

Sunday, 13 November 2011

SusChem España Stakeholders in Barcelona

SusChem España will be holding its Annual Stakeholder event on 16 November during Expoquimia - Spain’s premier International Chemistry Trade Show that is taking place from 14 to 18 November in Barcelona. The day before the Spanish national platform is also involved with a major cross technology platform event at the same venue.

On 15 November, SusChem España is organising a major workshop with other Spanish national technology platforms entitled "Searching for Innovation at the Knowledge Crossroads". The aim of the workshop is to try and identify areas in which there are opportunities to cooperate, that in turn could lead into new innovative projects.

The following day the SusChem España stakeholder event takes place. The programme includes presentations on the next European Commission Framework Programme (Horizon 2020) and activities carried out both by the European and Spanish technology platforms. Antonia Morales Perez, Innovation Manager at Cefic, will present SusChem Europe’s current activities and prospects for the forthcoming Horizon 2020 programme.

Attendees will also receive information about the various activities and initiatives developed over the last year by the Spanish platform's groups working to define the “Sustainable Chemistry after 2012” roadmap. The stakeholder event will close with an award ceremony for the SusChem Young Chemist Prizes, under the categories of “Innova” and “Futura”

CDTI Forum
Antonia Morales Perez will also be presenting at the III Forum CDTI on 18 November in Madrid where she will outline SusChem’s proposal for a European Innovation Partnership (EIP) on Raw Materials that is specifically looking at the development of new innovative materials by design and solutions for the substitution of critical materials. Ms Pilar Aguar, Deputy Head of Unit of the Operational Unit Materials at the European Commission DG Research & Innovation will also be talking on this topic.

CDTI is the Centre for Industrial Technological Development an agency of the Spanish Ministry for Science and Innovation and organised the forum to discuss the EU 2020 agenda and the general concepts behind the proposed EIPs.

For more information on SusChem España activities please contact Cristina Gonzalez or visit the SusChem España website.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Rare Earth Shortages can hamper Low-carbon Technologies

A new report from the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) highlights the threat to successful deployment of low-carbon energy technologies due to a potential shortage of five elemental raw materials. The report recommends a set of actions to prevent shortages and allow a smooth implementation of the Commission's Strategic Energy Technology (SET) Plan.

Scientists from the JRC’s Institute for Energy and Transport (IET) have carried out an in-depth analysis of the use of raw materials, especially metals, in the six priority low-carbon energy technologies of the Commission's SET-Plan: nuclear, solar, wind, bio-energy, carbon capture and storage and electricity grids.

The study 'Critical Metals in Strategic Energy Technologies' reveals that five metals commonly used in these technologies – neodymium, dysprosium, indium, tellurium and gallium – show a high risk of shortage. Europe depends on imports for many of these, for which there is rapidly increasing global demand and limited supply, often concentrated in a few countries with associated political risks. Furthermore, these materials are not easily recyclable or substitutable.

Deployment issue
A large-scale deployment of solar energy technologies, for example, will require half the current world supply of tellurium and 25% of the supply of indium. At the same time, the envisaged deployment of wind energy technology in Europe will require large amounts of neodymium and dysprosium, (about 4% of the current global supply each) for permanent magnet generators, which could only be eased if the supply of such metals in the future is increased, which may not be simple. Virtually the whole European supply of these metals comes from China.

The report considers possible strategies to avoid or mitigate shortage of these metals, including promoting recycling and reuse and looking into substitution by other less critical materials. Further measures could be the development of alternative technologies. These are all issues that are addressed in the proposed European Innovation Partnership on Raw Materials for a Modern Society being developed with significant SusChem involvement.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Chemistry for a Better Life at European Parliament

Chemistry takes centre stage at the European Parliament in Brussels tomorrow (November 9) where the European Parliament's Science and Technology Options Assessment Panel (STOA) is holding a workshop on 'Chemistry for a Better Life'.

The workshop will be chaired by Teresa Riera Madurell, MEP and starts at 3pm. The event has been organised by STOA, in cooperation with the European Association for Chemical and Molecular Sciences (EuCheMS) and the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic) and aims to highlight the crucial contribution of chemistry to achieving a better quality of life and welfare for humanity. The event takes place within the framework of the IUPAC/ UNESCO International Year of Chemistry 2011.

The workshop will be televised 'live' via a web video link. The main workshop session will be preceeded by a poster exhibition between 12:30 and 14:00.

Speakers at the workshop include:
  • Prof. Avelino Corma, Instituto de Technología Química, Valencia
  • Prof. Ulrich Schubert, EuCheMS
  • Prof. Dr. Dieter Jahn, BASF
  • Prof. Dr. Nicola Armaroli, CNR Bologna
  • Richard Allan, Scottish Water Horizons
  • Prof. Luis A. Oro, EuCheMS
Chemistry for solutions
Chemistry is fully committed to developing sustainable solutions to Europe’s pressing problems, including fostering resource efficiency (such as the proposed SPIRE PPP), developing alternative energy portfolios, redressing the consequences of climate change, improving our health conditions and assuring an adequate food supply for a growing population.

Chemistry is central to progress in many scientific and technological fields. Working with a wide range of experts EuCheMS has published a Roadmap where a number of key areas have been identified in which advances in chemistry can tackle some of the ‘Grand Challenges’ underlined by the Lund Declaration of 2009.

Chemistry, both as an industry and a science, will play a pivotal role in ensuring that the European Union is able to realise its vision of an ‘Innovation Union'. A strong partnership between academic, research and industry will ensure that research is transferred to sustainable economic solutions that contribute to the improved welfare of our society.

The workshop will be opened by a key note speech from Prof. Avelino Corma, Instituto de Technología Química, Valencia, followed by three Panel Sessions. Discussions between the panel members, MEPs and participants will provide an open discussion on the role of and expectations for chemistry in the forthcoming European Commission Common Strategic Framework for Research & Innovation - aka Horizon 2020.

Monday, 7 November 2011

SPIRE proposes Process Efficient Europe

A big step closer to a sustainable, smart and inclusive Europe has been made with the publication of the SPIRE (Sustainable Process Industry through Resource and Energy Efficiency) proposal for a major Public Private Partnership (PPP) for Horizon 2020 - the next EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation.

The SPIRE proposal was developed and is driven by the Resource and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REP) involving more than 10 major process industry sectors which together represent 20% of the European economy. The high-tech process industry is a significant part of advanced manufacturing.

The main objective of SPIRE will be to bring to life, for the first time, a European innovation agenda that would look into new technologies, business models and solutions along the value chain for improved European industry competitiveness, resource efficiency and employment. SusChem has played a leading role in the development of the SPIRE proposal.

Innovative process industry for a prosperous Europe
"The SPIRE initiative is key to the rejuvenation of the EU's industrial base and to its future. It will provide the technological and non-technological tools as well as focus public-private efforts necessary to decouple economic growth from increasing use of resources," said Dr Klaus Sommer, Chair of the SusChem Board.

The consortium behind SPIRE is addressing for the first time, in addition to research, the innovation opportunities for resource efficiency from a full value chain perspective. This value chain goes from raw material suppliers, to transformative industries, such as the chemical (including industrial biotechnology) industries, to intermediate and end-user products.

"The proposal is targeted to be high impact," says Ed D'Hooghe, Innovation Manager at Cefic. "Therefore, along with technological innovation, SPIRE covers novel business models, design and branding services in a comprehensive innovation concept. It looks to include also public sector and social innovation."

SPIRE ambitions
SPIRE will bring together large corporate industry and high-tech SMEs as well as academic centres of excellence to develop innovative materials and breakthrough technologies to modernise the EU's industrial landscape.

"SPIRE can boost enterprise in Europe and create more jobs in the process and related industries including in high-tech SMEs by stimulating existing and new global markets that Europe can lead," concludes Dr. Klaus Sommer. "At the same time, citizens’ quality of life will improve as a greener, more efficient and smarter industry is built in Europe."

For more information on SPIRE and related SusChem activities contact Ed D'Hooghe at Cefic. The SPIRE proposal brochure can be downloaded here and the Executive Summary from the document can be accessed here.