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Wednesday, 27 November 2013

One Million in Prizes! Ten years of LRI Innovative Science Awards

The recent LRI Annual Workshop in Brussels on 21 November was the occasion to celebrate ten years of the LRI Innovative Science award. The event saw the presentation of this prestigious award for younger scientists to its tenth recipient: Dr. Sabine Langie of VITO. Dr Langie received her prize of € 100 000 from Prof. Ellen Fritsche of the University of Dusseldorf: herself a previous winner and now a member of LRI’s External Scientific Advisory Panel (ESAP).

The Cefic-LRI award programme has been hugely successful over the past decade. The LRI Innovative Science Award was established in 2004 to inspire highly innovative and industry relevant projects in biomedical toxicology and ecotoxicology led by promisingly early career scientists.

The prize of € 100 000 has been awarded annually ever since - boosting the careers of ten younger European scientists in the challenging fields with which LRI is engaged.

This year’s award – making a total of one million euros distributed to research projects under this element of the Cefic-LRI programme so far – was presented by Prof Fritsche (below, left) to Dr Sabine Langie (below, right) of the Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO) at the LRI Annual Workshop.

Dr. Langie will use the award to broaden her current work on the analysis of DNA methylation patterns in the saliva of children participating in two significant birth cohort studies in Flanders. She is exploring the hypothesis that prenatal chemical exposures can alter foetal DNA methylation patterns and predispose the child to develop allergic diseases later in life.

The use of saliva is less burdensome for the children in study and easier to collect than, for example, blood samples. The ultimate aim of the study is to develop prevention strategies (including reduction of chemical exposure), particularly in children, and reduce the societal burden associated with allergic diseases.

Career boost
Reviewing the history of the award Prof. Fritsche, who won the award in 2006, described the prize as: “Nitromethane for an Early Career – the LRI award was a big accelerator for my career - a rocket!” This view was echoed by contributions from other awardees over the years.

Dr Roman Ashauer of York University won the award in 2007 and says: “The Cefic-LRI Award allowed me to pursue my own ideas. It was motivation, encouragement and the crucial bit of extra fuel in the tank to push the envelope.”

Similarly Prof Paul van den Brink of Wageningen University, the winner in 2005, commented: “The award gave me the first sense of academic freedom. It was a real push to my career and opened doors for further funding.”

The first ever winner of the award in 2004 Prof Roger Godschalk of Maastricht University is still feeing the effects of the award saying: “With the LRI-award, I was able to put my ideas into practice. It eventually evolved in to my own research line at our institute, which I can continue to build even 10 years after winning the CEFIC LRI-award.”

“Winning this award has been a pivotal factor in my research and professional career. It has allowed me to create my research group, managing my own research budget and having two PhD students working alongside me in the project,” said 2010 winner Dr Maria Saborit of Birmingham University.

Data mining
Delegates to the LRI workshop also got an update on the work of 2012 winner Dr Andreas Bender of the University of Cambridge who is looking to determine biologically relevant effects of compound exposure by chemical, biological and phenotypic data integration.

The in-silico prediction of in-vivo toxicology of a particular compound is a non trivial problem due to the lack of direct correlations between structural features and toxicity. However chemical, protein target and phenotypic data provide complementary bioactivity data and Dr Bender’s work is based on the hypothesis that more accurate toxicity predictions could be made by integrating these data. His core expertise is in data mining and the research has had success in predicting likely protein targets for compounds based on their structure in areas such as mode of action analysis, modelling of bioactivities, natural products and traditional medicines.

The performance of the model algorithm used is increasing all the time and Dr Bender is looking to the ultimate objective of automated prediction of targets given only their chemical structure. These techniques will be useful in future personalised medicine scenarios and he has recently received a € 1.5 million ERC Starter Grant to extend the work towards bioactive mixture modelling.

More information
Details of the next LRI Innovative Science Award will be released in early 2014. The focus of this eleventh competition will be in one of the environmental areas of research covered by LRI. For more details keep an eye on the Cefic-LRI website and to find out more about all previous winners click here.

Monday, 18 November 2013

SusChem Horizon 2020 Brokerage: 31 January 2014

It has just been announced that SusChem will be running a Brokerage and Project Submission Workshop on 31 January 2014 at the Sheraton Brussels Hotel. This event will help SusChem stakeholders further progress their collaborative efforts in project building for Horizon 2020 and follows up on an overwhelming request for further brokerage activity early in Horizon 2020 in the feedback from our very successful pre-brokerage event in October.

The venue for the January Brokerage and Project Submission workshop will be the Sheraton Brussels Hotel at Place Rogier 3 in Brussels.

In December the first calls for Horizon 2020 will be published and it will be time to finalise partners for projects and develop your proposals. So join SusChem on 31 January to complete your project plans for the upcoming and future calls with the support of SusChem’s Innovation Managers and EU funding experts.

31 January will be the perfect occasion to move forward with your ideas and projects for Horizon 2020!

Pre-Brokerage Presentations 
If you would like to see highlights, including a presentation on Horizon 2020 by Søren Bøwadt, Programme Officer in the Directorate for Industrial Technology at the European Commission's DG Research and Innovation,  from the successful Pre-Brokerage event please click here.

And watch out for further details and how to register in December. Details will be published here and on the SusChem website. Demand for this event will be high so block the date today!

Thursday, 14 November 2013

EcoMondo 2013 hosts European Platforms for Innovation and Sustainability

Last week (6 to 9 November), SusChem and SPIRE were presented as part of the new European initiatives to enable and facilitate sustainable growth at EcoMondo 2013. This is one of the largest events in Southern Europe for the exploitation and recycling of materials and for the development of the Green Economy in Europe.

EcoMondo is one of the largest trade fairs in the sector and the event took place in Rimini, Italy. It is one of the most accredited platforms in southern Europe and the Mediterranean basin with regard to innovation in sustainable development, with an equal focus on new technologies and best practice and on the uptake of new markets. The event’s ambition is to facilitate the key elements of a sustainable economy in Europe including  industrial research, more cooperation between the public and private sectors, funding, new quality standards and not only more, but also better, outreach to the European public.

The event traditionally prioritizes those areas where significant progress can be achieved at a pan-European level. This year’s conference focused, among others, on key areas of innovation for SusChem such as treatment of waste water, bio-based industries and smart cities. Nonetheless, EcoMondo 2013 also invited panellists and speakers to discuss a broader array of topics including waste management, clean-up of contaminated soil and air pollution.

SusChem: An EU and National approach 
SusChem’s brokerage activities and projects have already been gathering stakeholders and interested parties to deliver real innovation in areas of interest at EcoMondo. Antonia Morales Perez (right), CEFIC Innovation Manager and a member of the SusChem secretariat, introduced the EcoMondo audience to the many tools and opportunities available through SusChem.

Antonia’s presentation highlighted the importance of the SusChem network that was able to reach into many Member States. SusChem’s National Technology Platforms (NTPs), already present in 11 European countries and with Switzerland soon joining, offer a unique structure to support SusChem’s work for Europe 2020 with a joint European vision firmly rooted in national strategies through localized networks of industry and academia. Practically that translates into supporting the engagement of SusChem’s national members in transnational collaborations in EU collaborative projects and programmes like FP7 and the forthcoming Horizon 2020 calls.

During the meeting Antonia was interviewed in Spanish about SusChem activities. Her interview can be viewed below.

The key role of NTPs in the implementation of the SusChem strategy and action plans was highlighted, particularly in reference to developing Strategic Research and Innovation Agendas, including identification of skill requirements and regulatory barriers and encouraging industry participation in Horizon 2020 through active cooperation with partnerships in Member States.

Inspiration for SPIRE
EcoMondo was also the venue where the audience were able to appreciate the innovative approach of the SPIRE Public-Private Partnership. Loredana Ghinea (right), SPIRE’s Executive Director, explained how the value-chain of the process industry has come together to initiate a collaboration with the European Commission for a new systematic approach throughout the complete production cycle to ensure radical resource and energy efficiency.

Loredana explained how realizing the SPIRE vision means reducing the use of feedstock and emissions, re-use of energy and resources between different parties in the value chain, replacing current feedstock with renewable sources –including sources such as CO2. This can pave the way to re-inventing the whole interaction among all the technologies used in the value-chain of the process industry.

Find out more about SPIRE here.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

SusChem Chairman shares view on how to boost EU growth

Dr Klaus Sommer, Chairman of the SusChem board and President of A.SPIRE aisbl - the legal entity backing the SPIRE PPP, has put his views on what is needed to exit the economic crisis and help Europe's economy to grow as part of a series of video testimonials on the Horizon 2020 website. You can watch his video below. If you get an issue with playback (may not work with iOS) you can also access the video here.

Dr. Sommer said: "I think in Europe we have one disadvantage, and that is actually beginning with an advantage. The advantage is that, in research, we produce great results: we're very competitive in basic research and in fundamental inventions. But the issue is that we are not as good in turning this into commercially successful results. And this has been referred to as the 'valley of death' a couple of times, which means that we cannot take these results to something commercially viable. So I think Horizon 2020, with its focus on demonstration and piloting, will give us a great opportunity to take some of these results to something that business people like and build businesses on and make money with."

To find out more about SusChem visit our website and more information about the SPIRE PPP can be found here

PPP information days 
Information Days on the Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) under Horizon 2020 are being organized by the European Commission on 16-17 December, 2013, at the Charlemagne Building, Brussels. Central to this event will be the presentation of the first research and innovation call topics for the SPIRE PPP under Horizon 2020. More information on the SPIRE session in the event will be available shortly, but registration to the event is open now.

The Information Days with cover the four research contractual PPPs envisaged under Horizon 2020: Factories of the Future; Energy-efficient Buildings; Green Vehicles; and Sustainable Process Industries.

On the first day of the meeting a plenary session is planned for the four cPPPs and then parallel workshops for each PPP focusing on the presentation of their new Multi-annual Roadmaps, opportunities in the calls included in the 2014-2015 Work Programme for Horizon 2020 and brokerage activities.

On the Tuesday (17 December 2013) a second plenary session for the PPPs is foreseen with contributions from Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science and Neelie Kroes, EC Vice-President and Commissioner for Digital Agenda.

The programme also includes a final assessment of the first three Research PPPs established under the Recovery Plan, reports on success stories in the domains of the four PPPs, and a roundtable discussion on the expected impact of the PPPs.

ICIS Innovation Awards 2013 Result

The winners of the ICIS Innovation Awards for 2013 have been announced. The awards were launched in 2004 and celebrated their tenth anniversary this year. The overall winner is selected from the winners of five individual categories (see below) and for 2013 the winning company is the Cabot Corporation

“Energy efficiency and bio-based materials technologies were very much to the fore in this year’s ICIS Innovation Awards,” said John Baker of ICIS. “Of the 12 shortlisted entries, no fewer than half offered innovations in these two areas.”

The awards have grown in popularity with each succeeding year and SusChem has been proud to have contributed to the competition’s judging panels on many occasions. This year SusChem coordinator Jacques Komornicki was part of the panel.

SusChem believes that innovation is a key driver for growth and profitability in the chemical sector. And The ICIS Innovation Awards are designed to reward innovation, environmental advances and sustainability in the global chemical industry.

Smart Cities, smart materials
Cabot Corp received the award for its aerogel technology that can dramatically increase insulation in building and construction. The overall winner was unanimously selected by the judging panel of six innovation experts. The company also won the award for Innovation with Best Environmental Benefit.

Innovations like the Aerogel materials (see above - image from ICIS) developed by Cabot offer huge potential to improve the insulation values of a whole range of building materials and are typical of the type of chemical innovation that SusChem has been highlighting recently for the built environment.

Chemistry lies at the heart of the built environment in every city providing the fundamental building blocks for new advanced materials for housing such as smart coatings and insulations that are making houses, offices and factories more energy efficient and form the basis for the ‘Smart Cities’ of the future.

The Chemical Industry is already heavily engaged in this area and has offered five concrete solutions for Chemistry-based initiatives for energy efficiency in buildings, which were selected as top key innovation by city officials at the recent Smart Cities and Communities Stakeholder Platform conference.

Other category winners in the ICIS Innovation Awards 2013 were:

  • Solvay Aroma Performance for Best Product Innovation for Govanil: pioneering the new reference of vanilla flavours
  • Renmatix for Best Innovation by an SME with its advances in sugar conversion technology using supercritical hydrolysis to provide an economical bridge between upstream and downstream biochemicals
  • Virent for Best Innovation for Sustainability with its process to convert plant sugars to paraxylene for renewable, recyclable packaging and fibres, and
  • Archroma (until recently part of Clariant) for Best Business Innovation and its “One Way” sustainability service.

You can find full details of all the winning entries and the shortlisted innovations in each of the categories in a 16-page special ICIS publication celebrating the winners and chemical innovation in general.

What are the ICIS awards?
The annual awards are open to any chemical company or collaborative effort between industry and academia anywhere in the World. The judging panel looks for innovative projects that solve problems or provide solutions for the company or its customers or that demonstrate an innovative approach to business, the environment and sustainability.

In 2013 there were five prize categories:

  • Best Product Innovation
  • Best Innovation by a Small or Medium-sized Enterprise (SME)
  • Best Business Innovation
  • Best Innovation for Sustainability
  • Innovation with Best Environmental Benefit

For more information about the ICIS Chemical Business Innovation Awards visit the website or contact John Baker at ICIS.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Value4Nano Survey Needs Your Input

The recently started Value4Nano project is looking for your input to help foster the responsible development of nanotechnologies, products and services in the European Union. To help guide the project it has just launched a survey covering issues, uses and technical and market development in the sector. 

The Value4Nano project is a Coordinated Support Action funded by the European Commission under FP7 with the aim of delivering recommendations for future programme topics in the area of nanotechnologies. The full name of the project is “Industrial valorization of strategic value chains for nano-enabled products.” The project is funded for two years from September 2013 to August 2015.

The survey consists of a short questionnaire and should take no more than 15 minutes to complete and share your experience of the sector. The closing date for the survey is 20 December 2013.

What is Value4Nano?
The Value4Nano project aims to develop an Implementation Roadmap for four value chains and their target products. The Roadmap will include business modelling and planning for a set of pilot lines and it will involve strategic industrial and other stakeholders.

The four target value chains and their target products are:

  • Nano and micro printing for industrial manufacturing
  • Nano-enabled, depollutant and self-cleaning surfaces
  • Manufacturing of powders made from functional alloys, ceramics and intermetallics
  • Lightweight multifunctional materials and composites for transportation

To keep up to date with Value4Nano project developments, events and Calls for Experts visit the project website where you can download a short flyer on the project. Alternatively contact the project coordinator Margherita Cioffi.

Latest CRM_InnoNet Newsletter published

The SusChem-supported FP7 project the Critical Raw Materials Innovation Network (CRM_InnoNet) has just published its latest newsletter. The project aims to support Europe’s strategic objective to ensure security of supply for the vast range of critical raw materials required by European industries through alignment of research, development and innovation efforts towards substitution of critical raw materials that will secure existing value chains and lead to new applications and markets.

This fourth project newsletter profiles project partner Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research and highlights the recent publication by CRM_InnoNet of a set of “raw material profiles”.

The newsletter also features the European Raw Materials Information and Brokerage event that is happening on 13 November and the European Innovation Partnership on Raw Materials First Annual Conference taking place on 5 December, together with an overview of CRM_InnoNet’s recent impact and activities and other ‘hot news’ from the sector.

More information
The CRM innovation Network has four main objectives:

  • To catalyse the European innovation community in the area of substitution and create synergies
  • To share information
  • To promote best practices 
  • To identify innovation pathways

To register your interest to the Innovation Network, please visit the project website. For more information about SusChem and Cefic’ involvement with the project, contact Antonia Morales Perez at Cefic.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

EIP Raw Materials Annual Conference Taking Place in Brussels in December

The European Innovation Partnership on Raw Materials (EIP RM) has announced its Annual Conference, the first one since its creation in September 2013, which will be held at the SQUARE Meeting Centre (Room Copper Hall) in Rue Ravensteinstraat 2 in Brussels on 5 December 2013.

The aim of this annual conference is to present the Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP) of the Partnerships while discussing financial instruments to support the "Raw Materials Commitments" and fostering networking in the Raw Materials community.

The EIP on Raw Materials aims to provide Europe with enough flexibility and alternatives in the supply of important raw materials, whilst taking into account the importance of mitigating the negative environmental impacts of some materials during their life cycle. Its objective will be to make Europe the world leader in the capabilities related to exploration, extraction, processing, recycling and substitution by 2020.

The EIP is now moving to its implementation phase: the first goal is to involve a very large number of partners across the European Union and the entire raw materials value chain that will carry out actions contributing to the objectives of the EIP. This is why the European Commission will soon launch an open call for commitments by stakeholders in the private, public and non-governmental sectors including academia. It is anticipated that the call will trigger a number of individual raw materials commitments, where the partners jointly commit to co-operate and take actions that will contribute to achieving the objectives of the SIP, in the different action areas.

Raw materials are one of SusChem's priorities and the chemical sector has contributed to the Europe’s Raw Materials strategy with its input and expertise. SusChem and Cefic share the aims of the EIP and have contributed to the development of both the SIP and of the EIP

The Annual Conference will be the best occasion to form strong links with the many actors working with raw materials while ensuring that the common goal of strengthening Europe’s global position in raw materials. 

The Conference will include a poster session where the stakeholders will be able to present their priorities relevant to the EIP or to search for partners who could be interested in similar projects within the EIP priorities.

The draft agenda can be downloaded here

Registration for the conference is available here