The SusChem News Blog is now hosted on the SusChem website in the News Room. You will be redirected there in 10 seconds

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Where to find your SusChem news is changing

From Monday 1 July 2019, SusChem news articles will be exclusively published in the SusChem Newsroom.

SusChem news items have been published both on the SusChem blog and in the SusChem Newsroom since 2017.

Visitors to the SusChem Blog will be automatically redirected to the SusChem Newsroom from 1 July.

See you there!

The SusChem News team.

Thursday, 23 May 2019

'Towards a New SusChem SIRA' Workshop

SusChem stakeholders met on 16 and 17 May in Brussels to work on the next SusChem Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda (SIRA), reflecting on the new opportunities and challenges to be faced in the next European research and innovation framework programme: Horizon Europe. This SusChem SIRA-dedicated workshop brought together members of the SusChem Board, the SusChem NTPs and experts from across Industry, Academia and SMEs, to finalise the technology content of the SusChem SIRA. The SusChem community continued a process that was initiated at theSusChem Stakeholders 2018 meeting, followed by nominations of experts and two consultation rounds. The communication of the new SusChem SIRA is expected at the upcoming 2019 SusChem Stakeholder meeting on 27 November 2019.

SusChem has been working on identifying technology priorities along its three main technology pillars: Advanced Materials, Advanced Processes and enabling Digital technologies. The ‘Towards a New SusChem SIRA’ workshop was a follow up to prior consultation rounds that were initiated after the SusChem2018 Stakeholders meeting. The new SIRA will reflect on the overall strategy and role of Sustainable Chemistry and Industrial Biotechnology in boosting innovation in Europe and tackling global challenges, in the context of Horizon Europe.

On day one, participants focused on four cross-cutting topics of high relevance for SusChem: 'Circular Economy', 'Process Intensification', 'Sustainability Assessment Innovation', and 'Safe -by-design innovation'.

Delegates joined roundtable discussions, moderated by experts, focussing on a specific sub-topic within one of the four areas and considered the current state-of the-art and grand challenges. From that analysis they then selected key priority areas for research and innovation in the timeframe of Horizon Europe. A key output was the likely impact of research and innovation. Horizontal impacts and requirements, such as education and training, were also discussed.

For the Process Intensification session, the sub-topics were: reaction engineering, digitalisation, electrification, modularisation, and materials. In the Safe-by-Design session research and innovation themes relevant to process and materials innovation as well as methodologies towards improved safety and sustainability were discussed. The Circular Economy session looked at biomass valorisation, CO2 valorisation, waste valorisation, circularity-by-design and water circularity. Finally, the Sustainability Assessment Innovation session discussed methodologies, data, tools and uptake issues to ensure the measurable and sustainable impact of the developed technologies.

SusChem key enabling technologies in Horizon Europe
The second day of the workshop began with a summary of the outcomes of day one, followed by a panel discussion on strategic research priorities for Sustainable Chemistry and Industrial Biotechnology in the context of the transition to Horizon Europe.

Contributions were made by SusChem board members Dr. Jens Rieger of BASF, Dr. François Monnet from Solvay, Dr. Deirdre Black of the Royal Society of Chemistry and Dr. Fernando Moreno of Solutex, with Jürgen Tiedje representing the European Commission DG Research & Innovation. The panel debate was moderated by Dr. Pierre Barthélemy of Cefic and also a member of the SusChem Board.

Jürgen Tiedje opened the discussion with an update on Horizon Europe. He noted that there was a basic agreement between the Commission, Member States and the European Parliament on the framework programme, although the budget is still to be finalised. The Commission is moving ahead with implementation to ensure calls would be available in 2021.

He described the changes in areas relevant to industry in Horizon Europe as “not a revolution, but a big change nonetheless” and he emphasised the need to highlight the impact of any proposed research and innovation calls. In June the Commission will publish strategic plans describing “what do we want to achieve” in Horizon Europe, again with a clear emphasis on increasing impact. A widespread consultation on the document will follow and the plan will be discussed at and finalised after the next EU Research and Innovation Days on 24-26 September 2019. He also noted that the Commission has just published a call for experts to join the new Horizon Europe Mission boards and invited SusChem stakeholders to be involved in all the above-mentioned steps of stakeholder consultation. In general, he thought that the outcome of the SIRA workshop would be an excellent basis for SusChem input to the Horizon Europe debate.

The panel discussed the significant impact of SusChem and the previous SusChem SIRA under Horizon 2020, and how this raised the platform’s ambition for Horizon Europe. The SusChem Board highlighted how this could be achieved through SusChem’s considerable experience as a multi-stakeholder platform and an advisory forum on technology priorities to address EU challenges.

The panel discussion ranged across the role of the European Research Council in the programme, how to support SMEs’ involvement and the role of the SusChem NTPs in achieving this, and Horizon Europe’s aim to provide new open infrastructure such as facilities for innovation testing and demonstration.

The SusChem Board members highlighted the need to make the best use of the collaborative synergies and experience established by SusChem that could be very useful in achieving, for example, a true Circular Economy faster. They also emphasised how both vertical and horizontal technologies will contribute to achieving high-impact goals with digital technology being both enabling and transformative.

Jürgen Tiedje reminded the audience that the last work programme for Horizon 2020 would be published soon and would feature a wide-ranging call on circular economy topics which would emphasise inter-topic connection. “It is important to start to look beyond individual topics to leverage impact,” he concluded.

The final working session was devoted to three parallel sessions in which participants considered gaps and prioritisation for research and innovation topics under the three SusChem technology pillars: Advanced Materials, Advanced Processes and enabling Digital Technologies.

Over the two days of the workshop a considerable number of ideas and initiatives were discussed and captured. Existing input from expert groups and the wider consultation process were reviewed and validated and technology gaps were identified with relevant input suggested. All-in-all an excellent basis for refining and completing the revised SIRA.

Next steps?
SusChem Manager, Dr. Vivi Filippousi from Cefic, thanked all participants and the SusChem team for their hard work and significant contributions to the formulation of the new SIRA and outlined the process going forward.

The input from the SusChem SIRA workshop will be analysed and incorporated in the earlier consultation input. As of June, the technology priorities will be structured into SIRA chapters that will relate to the structure of Horizon Europe (clusters and intervention areas). Targeted involvement of SusChem experts will be used to build the SIRA chapters. Once a full draft is assembled, the text will be reviewed by the SusChem Board and the SusChem NTPs for approval before sharing with all contributors for acknowledgement of the document by their organisation.

An expected communication of the new SusChem SIRA towards Horizon Europe (2021-2027) will take place at the 2019 SusChem Stakeholders meeting on 27 November 2019. Save the date now – and see you there!

You can access a photo gallery with images from the workshop event here.

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

A New Circular Economy Concept for Textiles and Chemicals

The RESYNTEX conference in Brussels on 24 April 2019 marked the final phase of this exciting project. RESYNTEX was funded by the European Commission’s HORIZON 2020 Programme via a SPIRE Public Private Partnership call and started in June 2015 to create a new circular economy concept for the textile and chemical industries. Cefic is one of 20 partners involved in the project, which represented 10 different EU member states.

Major technological advances were achieved, one being the construction of a pilot installation in Slovenia. This site will demonstrate the whole symbiosis concept of RESYNTEX in an industrial environment with full integration of the sorting, pre-treatment, chemical and enzymatic processes, as well as liquid and solid waste treatment and water recycling.

With this installation, the RESYNTEX project moved into the real-world testing of its technology for chemical and biotechnological recycling of textile waste. To achieve large-scale industrial application, significant further technology development work is necessary and must be accompanied by smart regulatory and economic incentives.
The project may be coming to an end, but the project partners see plenty of opportunities to work towards a circular and low carbon economy with a key role for innovative chemical and biotechnological recycling technologies. Although fundamentally understood, such technologies are currently under-deployed for plastics circularity.  Further innovation, scale-up to demonstration, adoption of policies, and establishment of recycling-chains are needed to establish clear pathways for full-scale implementation to valorise post-use waste currently shipped, burnt or disposed of in landfill.

More information at

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Help shape the next SusChem SIRA

Do you want to help shape the next SusChem Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda (SIRA)? Then you need to register for the SusChem Workshop ‘Towards a New SusChem SIRA’, which will take place on 16 and 17 May 2019 at Hotel Le Plaza in Brussels, Belgium.

The May event will bring together members of the SusChem Board, the SusChem National Technology Platforms (NTPs) and Research and Innovation experts in a two-day working meeting to help finalise the revised SusChem SIRA that will feed into future technology road maps and calls under the next European Commission Framework Programme (Horizon Europe) and other European innovation initiatives.. 

The participation and contribution of as many SusChem Stakeholders as possible is crucial to ensuring the right priorities and topics are included in the revised SusChem SIRA. 

Sessions and key topics 
On 16 May, four sessions, with a number of round table discussions, will focus on cross-fertilisation topics, helping to define strategic priorities for future sustainable research and innovation activities in chemical sciences. 

The four sessions are: 
  • Process Intensification. Sub-topics: reaction engineering, digitalisation, electrification, modularisation, and materials;
  • Safe-chemicals-by-design. Sub-topics: R&I themes relevant to process and materials innovation as well as methodologies towards improved safety and sustainability;
  • Circular Economy. Sub-topics: biomass valorisation, CO2 valorisation, waste valorisation, circularity-by-design and water circularity); and
  • Sustainability Assessment. Sub-topics: methodologies, data, tools and uptake. 
On the second day, 17 May, the event will feature the conclusions on high-level priorities from Day 1, followed by a panel discussion on ‘Strategic Research priorities on Sustainable Chemistry and Industrial Biotech’, between SusChem Board members and European Commission representatives from the Directorate-General for Research & Innovation (DG RTD).

Three parallel sessions will follow to fill remaining gaps for specific technology priorities under Advanced Materials, Advanced Processes and enabling Digital Technologies, accounting for their contribution to Horizon Europe challenges and intervention areas.

We look forward to seeing you in Brussels on 16 and 17 May!

Friday, 12 April 2019

EuropaBio seeks Europe’s most innovative Biotech SMEs

SusChem founding partner, EuropaBio is inviting biotech start-ups and SMEs from across Europe to apply for the 10th edition of the Most Innovative European Biotech SME Award. This is a unique annual initiative recognising biotech innovation and its contribution to society. SMEs can apply in three categories: healthcare, agricultural or industrial biotechnology. The awards have become one of the highlights of the European biotech calendar, with over 250 SMEs competing since they were started.

The European Commission considers, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to be the backbone of Europe's economy. They represent 90% of all businesses in the EU. Peter Heinrich, Chair of EuropaBio’s SME Platform highlights: “The majority of the most valuable innovation happens in SMEs, which then go on to form relationships with larger companies, paving the way for improved health, cleaner energy and better environment, for products and processes as well as a sustainable farming for Europe’s societies.”

Biotechnology exemplifies the way in which science and scientific breakthroughs can be applied to respond to some of society’s most difficult challenges. From new therapies that can address unmet medical needs, to industrial processes that use resources more efficiently, to drought-resistant crops that allow farmers to feed a growing population in unpredictable climatic conditions, biotechnology pays economic, societal and environmental dividends.

Tjerk de Ruiter, EuropaBio’s Chair and CEO of Corbion, comments: “The diversity and quality of applications received in previous years demonstrate the entrepreneurial excellence of EU biotech SMEs. They are at the forefront of some critical innovation and are delivering solutions under challenging circumstances. Through these awards we recognise the vital breakthroughs they are making.”

How to enter
Applications for the awards must be submitted online at the dedicated awards website by the end of Sunday 15 September 2019. Two companies will be shortlisted in each of the three categories (healthcare, agricultural or industrial biotechnology) by a Jury of biotech and SME experts, with the winners celebrated during a landmark event to be held in Brussels on 6 November 2019. Each category winner will also receive EUR 10 000 prize money and two years free EuropaBio membership, in addition to European-level exposure and publicity.

The jury experts are all involved in biotech and understand the science, the funding realities and the regulatory and political frameworks in which European biotech SMEs must operate. They appreciate the contribution that innovative SMEs will make to Europe’s future, and together, they will carefully analyse each application to select the final nominees. The award winners from the 2018 competition are pictured below.

To be eligible for an award, participating companies must qualify as an SME under the standard EU SME definition (i.e. primary location of operations within Europe, 250 or less employees, EUR 50 million or less annual turnover).

More information
For more information on the awards including full terms and conditions and success stories from winners of previous awards, please visit the awards website.

The BioBase4SME Network

The BioBase4SME network represents a group of leading biobased economy experts and advises SMEs from across North-West Europe on how to develop new ideas into marketable products. The BioBase4SME project can help Start-ups and SMEs to overcome technological and non-technological barriers to bring their bioeconomy innovations to market.

The bioeconomy represents a massive opportunity for Europe. Locally produced biobased feedstocks rather than imported fossil resources can be used to produce materials, chemicals, energy and more, creating a new knowledge and technology intensive economy with high employment potential and with reduced environmental impact.

The BioBase4SME project expects to bring at least 20 promising innovations closer to the market, resulting in new investments and job creation, and provide training to about 200 entrepreneurs active in the biobased economy, thus boosting their innovation capacity. Other principle outputs are a strong, interregional network to guide entrepreneurs towards successful innovation, improved regional support for the bioeconomy in terms of innovation and investment climate, legal framework and public approval.”

The BioBase4SME project can provide ‘bio-innovation’ support to entrepreneurs throughout regions in north-west Europe. This support can include:
  • Free workshops and professional training
  • Innovation Biocamps
  • Innovation vouchers worth up to EUR 100 000.

The support available through the Innovation voucher system can include:
  • Technical assistance such as support for scale-up to pilot scale
  • Life Cycle Assessment
  • Techno-economic evaluations
  • Market research
  • Feedstock analysis
  • Social acceptance studies
  • Business planning and business plan support

The partners involved in the BioBase4SME project include AC3A (France), Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant (Belgium), CLIB2021 (Germany), the Flanders BioBased Valley (Belgium), MateriaNova (Belgium), the NNFCC (UK), REWIN (NL), TCBB Resource (Ireland), and the University of York (UK).

BioBase4SME is supported by INTERREG North-West Europe (NWE), a European Territorial Cooperation Programme funded by the European Commission through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

The programme has the ambition to make the North-West Europe area a key economic player and an attractive place to work and live, with high levels of innovation, sustainability and cohesion. It invests EUR 370 million of ERDF money in activities based on the cooperation of organisations from eight countries: Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

Thursday, 11 April 2019

BBI JU 2019 Call now open

The BioBased Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU) has published its 2019 Call for proposals under Horizon 2020. This sixth call will provide a further EUR 135 million of funding to boost the development of the EU’s biobased industries sector. The call is built around four strategic orientations: Feedstock, Process, Products, and Market uptake and continues the BBI JU’s objective of accelerating the development of new sustainable value chains from biomass feedstock supply via efficient processing, to the acceptance and application of bio-based products in end-markets.

The 2019 call identifier is H2020-BBI-JTI-2019 and contains 21 topic areas previously outlined in the BBI JU Annual Work Plan 2019. This document gives the full texts of the call that include 10 Research and Innovation Actions (RIAs), 7 Innovation Actions (IAs) - specifically 4 Demonstration (DEMO) calls and 4 Flagship (FLAG) calls - and 4 Coordination and Support Actions (CSAs) under the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme.

The deadline for submission of proposals is 4 September 2019, 17:00 CET, with proposal evaluations taking place during October and November and results being sent to applicants hopefully during December 2019.

Proposals to the Call 2019 can be submitted through the Funding and Tender Opportunities Portal - SEDIA (former known as the Participant Portal), the official EU funding communication channel, that gives an extensive overview of all Call information, such as Call documentation, how to get support regarding intellectual property, IT, and partner searches etc.

Via the BBI JU’s Partnering Platform, potential participants and consortia members can create  free, online profiles that enable a better interaction with other potential BBI JU Call applicants.
Applicants interested in receiving professional support or advice at the national level can get in contact with the appropriate member of the BBI network of National Contact Points.

BBI Info Day
On 12 April the BBI JU Info Day 2019 is taking place in the Charlemagne Building, Brussels. Plenary presentations on Europe's biobased sector and the development of the global bioeconomy will be followed by an outline of the BBI JU 2019 Work Programme from Philippe Mengal, Executive Director of the BBI JU. Information will be provided about the BBI JU initiative and all other aspects of the 2019 Call process including details of the proposal submission and evaluation processes.

After lunch, the BBI JU Networking event, will help participants to build their networks and find potential partners for the BBI JU Call for proposals.

And throughout the day, participants will have the opportunity to speak to representatives from BBI JU's founding partners and Member States as well as exchange views with entities in synergy with the BBI JU, including SusChem. The BBI JU's Programme Office staff will also be available to answer questions about the Call process and procedure.

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

SusChem and ISC3 sign MoU to advance Sustainable Chemistry

The European Technology Platform for Sustainable Chemistry (SusChem) and the International Sustainable Chemistry Collaborative Centre (ISC3) signed a new cooperation agreement to foster their common mission of advancing Sustainable Chemistry at a European and global level at the recent SusChem board meeting on 14 March 2019 in Brussels.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) outlines the role of each organisation and proposes long-term collaboration in the following areas: research agenda development, fostering breakthrough Innovation, education & skills development and stakeholder dialogues on Sustainable Chemistry. Through this agreement, both parties aim to maximise the impact of relevant activities, build on synergies and complementarities, and create added value for their members.

Markus Steilemann, Chairman of the SusChem board (pictured above, left), said:
“The memorandum reflects the commitment of both sides to work together towards advancing sustainable chemistry innovation to address EU and global challenges. In the course of 2019, we look forward to collaborating on the new SusChem Strategic Research and Innovation agenda (SIRA), and on the ISC3-led ‘Global understanding of Sustainable Chemistry’ consultation. Here,  SusChem brings in the European perspective sharing the benefits of our SusChem network of National Technology platforms.”
Friedrich Barth, Managing Director of ISC3 (pictured above, right), said:
“We join forces with SusChem to promote sustainable innovation in the chemical sector, leveraging a multi-stakeholder approach that involves Academia, SMEs, start-ups, the large Industry and society. Working with SusChem means having on board such a European forum, building on existing knowledge and advancing Sustainable Chemistry, not only at a European level but at a global scale, which is our main mission.” 
A key 2019 priority of this agreement is the bilateral input on Research Agendas. 

The new SusChem Strategic Research and Innovation agenda (SIRA), is currently being revised and will be structured in line with the next EU research and innovation framework programme: Horizon Europe (HEU). The SusChem SIRA will also address the impact of Sustainable Chemistry on global challenges, as part of HEU, and therefore the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). ISC3 will provide input on all relevant technology priorities, and the potential impact of such innovation in Sustainable Chemistry with regards to global challenges. ISC3 will also provide key input on priorities under education and skills, a horizontal topic that will be covered in the new SusChem SIRA.

SusChem will provide input to the ISC3-led ‘Global understanding in Sustainable Chemistry’ consultation with a strong focus on Europe. SusChem will also involve the SusChem NTP network (17 countries) to provide a national perspective.

About SusChem
SusChem ETP, founded in 2004, is a European Technology Platform, with the main objective of contributing to revitalising research & innovation in Sustainable Chemistry and Industrial Biotechnology in Europe. As a multi-stakeholders networking forum and a technology solutions provider, SusChem works towards advising on technology priorities, at a European level, with a long-term strategic research and innovation agenda (SIRA). Connection to National priorities is achieved via its network of  National Technology platforms. SusChem engages, consults and brings together representatives from larger Industry, SMEs, Universities and research technology organisations – being open to the wider society. SusChem technology focus areas include:  Advanced Materials, Advanced Processes, Catalysis, enabling Digital technologies as well as Horizontal topics.

About ISC3
ISC3, founded in 2017, was established by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) and the German Environment Agency (UBA). ISC3 has a structure supported by a Research & Education Hub (Leuphana University, Lüneburg) and an Innovation Hub (DECHEMA, Frankfurt) with the aim to also establish regional hubs outside of Europe. It is a globally acting institution, a multi-stakeholder platform and think tank that engages with the private sector, civil society and politics to contribute to international chemicals policies and the formation of a global network for collaboration, innovation and education on Sustainable Chemistry. Activities to achieve such objectives are: dialogues amongst stakeholders, building on a global start-up service and funding, developing a Sustainable Chemistry curriculum, and also working towards a research agenda outlining a common understanding on Sustainable Chemistry, sustainability assessment and cross-sectorial topics.

Both platforms share the intent of contributing to a more sustainable world and a circular economy, and to the transformation of the chemical sector towards sustainable chemistry, responding to global challenges.

Horizon Europe on track: EU institutions reach political agreement

On Wednesday 20 March 2019, the European Council and Parliament reached a provisional agreement on Horizon Europe. This political agreement, under the current Romanian Presidency of the Council of the EU, puts the EU institutions on track for a timely launch of Europe’s most ambitious Research and Innovation programme to date.

SusChem welcomes this political deal and fully supports the central role given to the innovative and enabling role of industry and sustainable chemistry in Horizon Europe.

Sustainable chemistry provides the building blocks for many of the Key Enabling Technologies and is a key solution provider for societal and UN sustainability goal challenges.

SusChem is committed to ensuring that Sustainable Chemistry technology priorities are fully considered in the ‘Global Challenges & European Industrial Competitiveness’ pillar of the new programme as well as the Public-Private-Partnership programmes and R&I Missions.

Dialogue and consultation with SusChem Stakeholders is already underway for the revision of technology priorities covered under the SusChem Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda (SIRA), which will serve as its input into Horizon Europe.

For a more detailed analysis of the deal please read this Science Business article.

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Employment and Careers for Chemical Scientists in Europe

Did you know that the vast majority of chemical scientists work in research and innovation, with some three million jobs in chemistry across Europe? This and many more interesting facts on the chemical science workforce can be found in the results of the recent EuChemS Employment Survey.

Employment conditions and career opportunities were the focus of the new Employment Survey for European Chemists (ESEC2). Conditions and opportunities for chemists are individually analysed for all countries where a statistically significant number of responses were received.

The results provide important clues for careers in these countries and in Europe as a whole. The importance of the various employer sectors varies significantly between European countries. A full chapter of the report is devoted to career planning of students and new graduates. The survey provides a wealth of details about the chemistry workforce in Europe and its development.

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Choose LIFE!

Apply now for LIFE Funding! The LIFE programme is the EU’s funding instrument for the environment and climate action. LIFE contributes to the implementation, updating and development of EU environmental and climate policy and laws by co-financing projects with European added value. Since its creation in 1992, LIFE has been through a number of different funding periods. The current funding period 2014-2020 has a budget of EUR 3.4 billion and the 2019 LIFE Call for project proposals will be launched at the beginning of April and published on the LIFE Calls website.

To help potential project partners to prepare for the 2019 call the European Commission is organising an Information & Networking Day on the 2019 LIFE call for project proposals on 30 April in Brussels - #EULife19 - at the Charlemagne Building. The event is open to potential applicants presenting project proposals on green technology, nature protection and climate action and registration is open now.

Participants will be invited to a morning information session on the 2019 LIFE call, covering the significant changes to the programme compared to previous years.

The afternoon will be dedicated to networking with fellow participants to share experience, match with potential new partners and meet representatives of the LIFE programme from the European Commission.

The main topics in the 2019 call will cover:

  • Environmental technologies and solutions including water, waste, air quality, soil, forest, health
  • Climate change adaptation
  • Climate change mitigation
  • Nature conservation and biodiversity
  • Climate and environmental governance and information initiatives

The agenda
The #EULife19 event will open with a review of the policy drivers of the LIFE programme led by Julien Guerrier, Director of EASME (the European Commission's Executive Agency for SMEs) before the 2019 programme call for action grants: priorities and novelties will be outlined.

There will be an opportunity for questions on the programme calls before a session on tips for a successful application.

After lunch an afternoon of  networking  and consortium building is foreseen with participants interested in applying for LIFE funding having the chance to find potential project partners or seek advice from EASME experts and National Contact Points in one-to-one meetings.

Why should you participate?

  • To find and meet potential partners for your next LIFE project
  • Take the chance to meet experts from the EASME)
  • To get advice from LIFE National Contact Points

Monday, 18 February 2019

The SusChem News Interview: Joanna Dupont-Inglis

SusChem was created with a mission to revitalise and inspire European chemistry and industrial biotechnology research, development and innovation in a sustainable way to respond to pressing societal challenges. Industrial biotechnology has always been a significant key enabling technology for SusChem and the Bioeconomy a priority policy area. And this continues as the platform works towards a new strategic innovation and research agenda for Horizon Europe.

EuropaBio was one of the founding partners of the platform. SusChem News recently caught up with Joanna Dupont-Inglis, Secretary-General of EuropaBio to get her views on SusChem’s achievements and what the future may hold for the platform.

Joanna has been a tremendous supporter of SusChem and its initiatives for many years and has recently stepped down from the SusChem board. Agnes Borg, EuropaBio's Director of Industrial Biotechnology, is now the organisation's representative on the SusChem management board.

Joanna has worked in Brussels for almost 20 years for a variety of industry groups, including CEFIC sector groups. A UK/Irish national with a background in Environmental Science and European Studies, she became directly involved with SusChem when she was appointed as Communications Manager with EuropaBio in 2009. Her role increased when she became Director of Industrial Biotech in April 2011. In 2016 Joanna was appointed as chair of the EU Bioeconomy Stakeholders Panel and since September 2018 Joanna has been EuropaBio’s Secretary General.

SN: How has SusChem been for you?
JDI: Being part of SusChem over the last ten years has been a great privilege, having given me the opportunity to work with experts, sometimes from quite different perspectives, who share a collective passion for the potential of chemistry and biotech.

The platform has grown and integrated a wider European community of industry, technology platforms and academia that is working to provide sustainable solutions to European challenges. SusChem successfully expanded the breadth and range of people involved in its work through its stakeholder engagement events encouraging cross-disciplinary work, helping to form consortia and reaching out along value chains to other organisations and initiatives. The network of SusChem National Technology Platforms, incorporating 17 countries across Europe, has been really significant  here too.

A big success for SusChem has also been its role to capture and articulate the benefits that sustainable chemistry and biotech to many of the major challenges facing our society and to global targets such as the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. It has done this by boosting awareness and visibility of research and innovation initiatives in sustainable biotech and chemistry.

SN: What do you see as the main ‘concrete’ achievements of the ETP?
JDI: The establishment of the SPIRE Public Private Partnership (SPIRE) and the BioBased Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU) are major achievements which SusChem helped work towards establishing. Many members of the SusChem board and the wider SusChem community were active and effective in advocating for the solutions and advantages that could be delivered via these two PPPs.

It’s really rewarding to see the hundreds of projects, focused on renewability, resource efficiency and climate change mitigation, that are now being delivered through these two initiatives and the valuable role of SusChem in helping to contribute to these two strategic research and innovation frameworks. The research and innovation outcomes from SPIRE and BBI are also demonstrating huge value-added potential for sustainable chemistry and industrial biotechnology by boosting jobs and growth in Europe while also ensuring environmental benefits.

The PPPs are helping Europe to remain at the cutting edge of technologies in these and other areas. They are bringing people together in new and novel partnerships and establishing links that continue beyond the projects themselves.

SN: How has SusChem influenced research and innovation activities in the EU working towards a functioning bioeconomy?
JDI: The impact and influence of SusChem’s research and innovation agendas are reflected throughout the European Commission’s Framework programmes FP7 and Horizon 2020.

SusChem’s research and innovation agendas have also been a major help here in laying the foundations of the bioeconomy by highlighting relevant technology priorities . SusChem has had a direct input through its own ‘SusChem inspired’ projects in FP7 and Horizon 2020 and also in its influence in supporting the agenda for the BBI’s work programme.

It’s work on sustainable chemistry applications, in topics such as renewable feedstock, holds great potential for benefiting rural and coastal communities through the development of their local and regional bioeconomy in terms of jobs and growth.

SusChem has also been impactful in advocating the link between resource efficiency and the bioeconomy, providing the basis for synergies with the circular economy.

SN: How do you see the platform’s role developing in Horizon Europe?
JDI: The new SusChem’s SIRA, to be published in light of Horizon Europe, will be really important here.  On a personal level, I’m excited to see how in the future SusChem will change the perception of CO2 and CH4 from being ‘’problem GHGs’’ to valuable feedstocks. Although the exact nature and functioning of Horizon Europe’s missions are still to be clarified, their raison d’etre is to use research and innovation to deliver tangible benefits that citizens are looking for to provide a healthier, more sustainable future for them and generations to come. Consumers are becoming more and more engaged in sustainability issues and, therefore, in what they buy and use. SusChem could have a role here through engaging with the public to showcase what can be achieved; demonstrating the options and impact that sustainable chemistry and industrial biotechnology can deliver.

The platform also has a role in encouraging academia to provide the courses and resources to ensure we are giving people the right skills and knowledge to enable a more sustainable society.

SusChem is very well placed, thanks to its collective expertise, to contribute to these missions. Indeed, it is hard to imagine how many of the proposed missions could succeed without input from biotech and sustainable chemistry. SusChem can deliver on these urgent needs and will continue to play a key role in the movement to ensure society uses our natural resources as sustainability as possible going forward for the benefit of everyone.

Monday, 11 February 2019

Data in Materials and Manufacturing

The impact and opportunities associated with digital technologies in the chemical and other process industries is an area of increasing importance for both SusChem and SPIRE. SusChem has already put the spotlight on digital technologies. Sustainable chemistry acts as an enabler for the continuous development of smarter and more sustainable electronic devices and equipment in other industries, while also being transformed and disrupted through digitalisation. This later topic was a major theme at the 2019 EU Industry Day event on 5 and 6 February where SusChem participated.

The European Commission’s EU Industry Days 2019 focused on key industrial challenges such as sustainability, digitalisation, investment and globalisation. The event demonstrated how EU industrial policy benefits European citizens and provided input for future policy making.

Martin Winter, Innovation Manager at Cefic and the lead contact for digital technologies for both SusChem and SPIRE was part of a panel discussion on ‘Data in Materials and Manufacturing’ on the second day of the event. 

There is a real opportunity to leverage the immense capabilities of information and communication technologies (ICT) to optimise processes and improve production efficiency within the chemical and process industries. Martin initially explained how data technologies including blockchain and artificial intelligence will become important for recycling and reuse of materials within the process industries to enable a more circular economy. 

3D-printed catalytic reactors
As an example of the potential impact of digital technologies in the chemical sector he described the SPIRE Horizon 2020 project ‘PRINTCR3DIT’. “This is the first EU-funded initiative on modelling the effect of 3D-printing technologies for both reactor and catalyst design in the chemical industries,” said Martin Winter. The project is part of a significant portfolio of digital technology projects managed by the SPIRE cPPP. 

He also emphasised the essential role of Public-Private-Partnerships (cPPPs) like SPIRE or Big Data Value PPP in bringing the relevant data-related innovation ecosystems together and accelerating the uptake of technologies from research into use in industry. Martin Winter presented the substantial portfolio of digital projects within SPIRE and emphasised the need for new digital skills for chemists and engineers working in the new digital era. 

Other speakers in the session highlighted the enormous opportunities that integrated data management could yield together with the barriers that are currently inhibiting their full exploitation. Interoperability was a major issue and much of the discussion centred around ontology – the formal naming and categorisation of data sets – as a key area of work to enable data transfer.

Martin Winter noted some issues in terms of value creation through advanced data analytics. In process industries better data availability, data storage, cybersecurity and advanced data analytics are becoming very important. He also called for a co-creation process to accelerate progress.

There is a need to fully leverage synergies between cPPPs. “SPIRE, Big Data Value and Cybersecurity PPPs must work together here,” he said. “If Europe is lagging behind in this area, it is very important that we avoid any possibility of duplication of work.”

Thursday, 7 February 2019

SPIRE moves to build new R&I road map with new structure

On Monday 4 February the SPIRE PPP celebrated five years of hard work in which it has seen the launch of 89 projects with a combined budget of some EUR 900 million. The A.SPIRE General Assembly meeting elected Pierre Joris, a board member of a number of international process and chemical companies and previously a senior manager at Solvay, as the new Chairman of the SPIRE Board. Pierre takes over from Daniel Gauthier who had completed his two-year term as Chair. Pierre (right) and Daniel (left) are pictured below with SPIRE Executive Director Angels Orduña at the SPIRE celebration.

At the General Assembly SPIRE announced a range of changes required to translate its SPIRE 2050 Vision, released towards the end of 2018, into concrete research and innovation proposals through the development and publication of a SPIRE 2050 research and innovation road map.

The SPIRE 2050 Vision has been strongly endorsed by SPIRE members, stakeholders and the PPP’s partners at the European Commission and SPIRE now aims to have a solid plan to achieve the implementation of this ambitious vision through the forthcoming Horizon Europe programme and beyond.

The process of building the road map is now beginning and will kick-off officially in March with the aim of achieving a first draft during the Summer and finalising the document by November 2019.

SusChem will contribute to the formulation of the road map through work on its own new Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda, in particular in areas such as process technologies, industrial symbiosis and digitalisation, where SPIRE calls could be a channel to the realisation of projects.

New working groups
In order to facilitate the development of the new road map the A.SPIRE Board of Directors and its Industrial Research and Innovation Advisory Group (IRIAG) has initiated the setting up of seven new SPIRE Working Groups (WGs).

The seven working groups are:

  • G1 - Energy Mix
  • G2 - Electrification of Industrial Processes
  • G3 - Use of Hydrogen
  • G4 - Capture and Use of CO2
  • G5 - Resource and Process Efficiency (and Flexibility)
  • G6 - Industrial and Urban Symbiosis
  • G7 – Digital (This WG was already established in autumn 2018)

The current SPIRE WGs (FEED, WASTE, PROCESS and APPLICATIONS.) will no longer be active, however the Advocacy group (aka the Outreach group) will be (re)activated.

A Steering Group will provide strategic guidance and manage the structure of the road map to ensure coherence with SPIRE 2050 Vision. In addition, a consulting company will be selected by A.SPIRE in early 2019 to support the WGs in the formulation of the road map.

WG members required
To populate the new Working Groups, SPIRE is calling for experts from its member organisations to get involved! Two types of expert input are required:

  • Technical Experts to provide expertise in the topics addressed by the WGs. In addition, expertise in supply-chain structures and in the upstream and/or downstream related sectors is needed, in order to ensure an integrated approach and consider the wider trends and developments on related EU policies (e.g. Industry, Climate Change and Circular Economy).
  • Specialists to provide strategic guidance and input, e.g. experts from companies or research organisations that hold positions to lead implementation strategies in the WG topic.

The new road map will provide an outlook up to 2050, divided into two parts: firstly, a more detailed part that will look into the investments required to reach market deployment within the time line of Horizon Europe, and then up to 2030; and secondly, a less detailed part that presents the plans of the process industries up to 2050.

After the road map exercise, the SPIRE WGs will remain active for the development of the Work Programmes under Horizon Europe.

Five year perspective
At the SPIRE celebration, the former Chair of A.SPIRE, Dr Klaus Sommer, delivered a video presentation outlining the origins of SPIRE, what the PPP has been achieved so far and what the future holds.

Thursday, 31 January 2019

HARMONI fosters European innovation

As stakeholders from the European process industry continue their search for measures to facilitate the transfer of innovation to the market, the Horizon 2020 funded SPIRE project HARMONI (Harmonised assessment of regulatory bottlenecks and standardisation needs for the process industry) has acted as a catalyst, bringing together over 150 experts to foster innovation activities.

On 16 and 17 January, the 2019 HARMONI Summit took place with the objective to encourage dialogue on an effective framework to facilitate and foster innovation. More than 150 experts from all sectors of the process industry, the European Commission and European standardisation bodies engaged in the exchange of ideas.

Summit solutions
The summit addressed solutions for non-technological challenges that hinder innovation and the transfer of solutions, such as regulation, standardisation needs and the lack of innovative business models. Based on the themes within the HARMONI project, the summit selected priority discussion areas that included innovation transfer and the harmonisation of EU regulation and EU standardisation.

Six sessions took place during the two-day workshop, dealing with context specific priority areas, such as the circular economy, CO2 valorisation and waste management. Each session included experts, and opportunity for Q&A’s, as well as working groups and discussion panels. This allowed for a hands-on evaluation of possible solutions for industry needs while, in parallel, giving a voice for representatives from the European Commission in an open and transparent dialogue.
HARMONI, in the words of the DG Research and Innovation, “can play a very interesting role in the future of the Horizon Europe Programme”, especially due to its good practise of integrating regulation and standardisation.

What’s next?
The HARMONI project continues until October 2019. The results of the project mainly address industry, regulatory and standardisation bodies. Identified priorities and results from the working groups will serve to provide recommendations to the responsible authorities.

The HARMONI team welcomes your input and looks forward to engaging with you in order to move towards a sustainable and competitive European process industry. Why not subscribe to the HARMONI newsletter to keep up to date with upcoming events and results?

More information on Harmoni
HARMONI aims to bring together all the relevant stakeholders in the process industry to jointly identify, analyse and propose solutions to the regulatory bottlenecks and standardisation needs that hamper their innovation processes and the market uptake of their results.

To do this, the project is developing and applying a methodology that ensures effective collaboration between the eight sectors involved in the SPIRE contractual Public Private Partnership to elaborate the solutions to the common challenges they face due to non-technological barriers including regulatory issues and lack of appropriate European Standards relevant to improving resource efficiency. In addition, HARMONI is analysing, comparing and proposing recommendations to trigger the transferability of technical solutions among and beyond the SPIRE sectors.

The project activities should enable an optimised EU regulatory and standardisation framework that facilitates and supports innovation in the process industry; improved participation of the SPIRE community in EU regulatory and procedures; earlier and more active involvement of the SPIRE community in the EU standardisation process; and an overall better environment that maximises transferability rates for technologies across SPIRE sectors.

A Roadmap for the Chemical Industry in Europe towards a Bioeconomy

The final event of the Horizon 2020 project RoadToBio will take place on Monday 18 February 2019 in Brussels. This stakeholder workshop event will present and discuss the project’s ‘Roadmap for the Chemical Industry in Europe towards a Bioeconomy’.

Over the last 18 months, the RoadToBio consortium has developed suggestions on how to produce 25% of organic chemical products in Europe as biobased goods by 2030. The results of the project have been achieved in close cooperation with many stakeholders from industry, associations, NGOs, and academia.

At this final workshop, the project will share the insights that have been gained and discuss the results of the analysis, the proposed actions and the messages that can help to facilitate the participatory development of Europe's bioeconomy going forward.

There are three main objectives to the workshop.

  • Firstly, to present the analysis on the selected nine product groups with a high potential to switch from a fossil-based to a biobased production pathway and to discuss their market opportunities. These nine products groups are: Agrochemicals, Adhesives, Cosmetics, Lubricants, Man-Made fibres, Paints and Coatings, Plastics, Solvents, and Surfactants. Participants to the workshop will be able to choose two breakout sessions covering specific aspects of each product group.
  • Secondly, to discuss general barriers that may hinder the development of Europe’s bioeconomy and the recommended actions from the project to overcome these.
  • And, thirdly, to explain how biobased products could be communicated better and what tools and messages can be used to better engage stakeholders and the public

The event will be held on the afternoon of 18 February 2019 at the Bluepoint Conference Centre in Brussels. You can download a draft agenda for the event here. Registration will be open until 13 February 2019 by emailing Lea Koening at Dechema indicating which two product groups you are particularly interested in.

More on RoadToBio
How can the chemical industry in Europe meet the challenges in global markets while becoming more sustainable at the same time? RoadToBio is a Horizon2020 project funded via the Biobased Industries JU that aims to pave the way for the European chemical industry towards a higher biobased portfolio and competitive success based on the benefits offered by the bioeconomy. The Project will deliver a roadmap for the chemical industry that will specify benefits as well as barriers towards a biobased economy to meet societal needs in 2030.

Thursday, 24 January 2019

Start using the Funding & Tender Portal for Horizon2020

In case you missed it, the European Commission has recently launched a new corporate Funding & Tender Opportunities Portal. The new Funding & Tenders Portal will become the entry point (the Single Electronic Data Interchange Area) for participants and experts in funding programmes and tenders managed by the European Commission and other EU bodies including Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe.

The new corporate Funding & Tender Opportunities Portal replaces the previous Participant Portal for Horizon 2020 and will become the single entry point for finding and managing EU grants and procurement contracts. It will cover all centrally managed programmes by the start of the next EU multi-annual programme period in 2021.

The new portal includes all functions currently available on the Participant Portal, as well as a new layout and graphic design, and an improved keyword search function with new features and search behaviour. The new portal reflects its multi-programme coverage and integrates the calls for tenders.

What is on the portal?
Using the new portal, you can:

  • Search and apply for funding opportunities in calls for proposals
  • Search a call for tender and submit a tender 
  • Manage your grants
  • Register as an expert, manage contracts and payments online.

Start using it now!

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Cefic-LRI Innovative Science Award 2019 call now open!

European-based early career scientists can now apply for the 2019 Innovative Science Award, a €100.000 prize to support promising new research in the field of environmental toxicology.  This year’s call focuses on chemical substances that bind to soil and sediments very strongly, also known as non-extractable residues (NERs).

“There is uncertainty about the risks associated with NERs and their persistence in the environment. Chemicals released into the environment often end up binding strongly to terrestrial soil and aquatic sediments and remain trapped unless an event - such as degradation - significantly changes the nature of the compound or the structure of the matrix to which they are bound” says Dr Océane Albert, Long-range Research Initiative (LRI) Programme Manager.

In 2018, the European Chemical Agency (ECHA) released a Technical and Scientific Report reviewing the state-of-science on the role of NERs and identified several technical challenges and directions for future research.

“Cefic-LRI aims to contribute to the research by supporting early career scientists with out-of-the-box thinking who can advance the science in this area”, concluded Dr Albert.

Innovative science
The Cefic-LRI Award is intended for a European-based scientist with less than ten years post-doctoral experience. Active involvement in interdisciplinary research, current academic track record, and access to appropriate networks will be considered in the selection. There is no age limit for applicants. Previous award winners are not eligible to apply.

The award is offered by the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic), in conjunction with the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC), the Association of European Toxicologists and European Societies of Toxicology (EUROTOX), and the International Society of Exposure Sciences (ISES). Application details are available through the Cefic-LRI website.

How does it work?
In January every year, the topic for that year's award is announced with a call for entries on the LRI website. This year, applicants must submit a  two-page proposal by 24 March 2019. Short-listed researchers are then requested to send in a more detailed description of their work, after which the three finalists are selected to present their proposal before a jury panel in Brussels. The LRI Innovative Science Award is officially presented at the LRI Annual Workshop in November, and the Awardee is invited to present the results of the research supported by the Award at the LRI Annual Workshop the following year.

Learn more about the Cefic-LRI Award by watching the video on the 2018 Award Ceremony below.

For more information on the topic and on how to apply, please visit the Cefic-LRI Award 2019 web page, or send an email to the LRI secretariat at Cefic.