Thursday, 18 August 2016

A Sustainable Future through Catalysis?

Europe is a leading player in terms of research on catalysis as well in the industrial implementation of catalytic technologies, however this leadership is under threat due to fragmentation of effort, insufficient coordination between European and country-based activities, a declining level of funding for fundamental research in some European countries, and a lack of large-scale infrastructures dedicated to catalysis. Now the European Cluster on Catalysis initiative has published its new Roadmap on Catalysis for Europe report ‘Science and Technology Roadmap on Catalysis for Europe’ that outlines a clear path forward. Catalysis has always been seen as a key chemical technology for SusChem and many SusChem members were closely involved in the development of this report.

This roadmap and the activities of the European Cluster on Catalysis have the ambitious objective to define a new path to create a sustainable future through catalysis. The process is bottom-up as it starts with national roadmaps and inputs from all across Europe and develops a common vision and highlights strategies to reach the challenges facing industry and society in a transitional period to a new economic cycle.

The ‘Science and Technology Roadmap on Catalysis for Europe’ report provides that long term vision and an action plan to support catalysis research in the EU and identifies the key actions that must be undertaken at European level in the next ten years in the field of catalysis.

These are:

  • Identify the best catalyst/process-related opportunities;
  • Accelerate R&D that improves energy efficiency;
  • Facilitate R&D on game changers with partners that lower barriers and operating costs;
  • Undertake or stimulate academic and national laboratory research on large-volume/high-energy use processes;
  • Promote synergies and cohesion between research groups on catalysis through the use of flagship initiatives

Catalysis – a key enabler
Catalysis is one of the key cross-cutting and enabling disciplines for the chemical and other process industries. Catalytic materials are crucial to reducing environmental burdens today and in the future and can help to make products greener and more sustainable, to reduce CO2 emissions and address future energy challenges. The first ‘Science and Technology Roadmap on Catalysis for Europe’ provides valuable input for the elaboration of future research policies in this area.

The report first introduces the vision of the roadmap, based on analysis of a scenario for sustainable production of chemistry and energy vectors and provides some long-term strategic goals. The role and relevance of catalysis is discussed and aspects identified that will dominate the future production of sustainable chemical and energy vectors and other critical areas for catalysis use.

Based on this analysis the report then identifies the grand challenges for catalysis and discusses possible implementation options. These challenges for catalysis, aiming to address societal, environmental and industrial demands, are grouped in three main topic areas:

  • Catalysis to address the evolving energy and chemical scenario
  • Catalysis for a cleaner and sustainable future
  • Addressing catalysis complexity

The following section analyses the strategic research agenda and related implementation action plan for these grand challenges identifying the key aspects, and related challenges and opportunities for catalysis, the main research areas and required outputs.

Catalysis is a key enabling technology for a cleaner and sustainable future, and the report focuses on intensifying research in this areas. Two main directions are identified in the roadmap:

  • Catalysis for eco-technologies, from air to water and waste, to address stationary to mobile; this area includes the aspects of photocatalysis related to depollution
  • Catalysis to improve sustainability of chemical processes, in terms of atom economy and improved processes to produce the main intermediates and chemical products/monomers

The report proposes that to foster innovation in catalysis impact and address the identified societal challenges requires a knowledge-based approach and enhanced capabilities in four main areas:

  • Advanced design of novel catalysts
  • Understanding catalysts from molecular to material scale
  • Expanding process concepts including catalysis
  • A scientific approach to link advanced design to catalyst scale-up and manufacturing

You can download the full report here.

More information
The European Cluster on Catalysis initiative was launched by the European Commission and brings together a number of SusChem inspired and EU-funded projects in the field of catalysis with research organisations and academic institutions as well as industrial and other relevant European stakeholders in the field. For the cluster the term catalysis encompasses many ‘flavours’ of catalysis including heterogeneous, homogeneous, photocatalysis, electrocatalysis, and biocatalysis together with corresponding chemical technologies such as CO2utilisation, artificial photosynthesis, biogenic materials, and water technologies.

For more information on SusChem initiatives in the field of catalysis contact Martin Winter at Cefic.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Horizon 2020: 2017 work programme announced!

This week (25 July) the European Commission unveiled its updated Horizon 2020 work programme for 2017. The packages announced by the Commission confirmed that in 2017 Horizon 2020 will support a range of SusChem relevant initiatives including Industry 2020 in the Circular Economy (€325 million) to develop strong and sustainable economies; Green Vehicles (€133 million); and Smart and Sustainable Cities (€115 million) to better integrate environmental, transport, energy and digital networks in the EU's urban environments.

Don’t forget you can find out more – and start building your project consortia for 2017 Horizon 2020 calls – at the SusChem Brokerage event on Tuesday 13 September in Seville.

In addition it was announced by Commissioner Moedas that for 2017 open research data will be introduced as the ‘norm’ for all new Horizon 2020 calls: projects funded under the programme will be required to offer free online access to all scientific data produced. The Commission believes that this move will boost competitiveness by accelerating innovation and collaboration, improving transparency, and avoiding duplication of efforts.

However, the Commission is aware that there are cases where research data cannot be open. Projects therefore have the possibility to opt out of the scheme, provided a valid justification is given such as protection of intellectual property.

A further new element in Horizon 2020 will be the use of Data Management Plans (DMPs), detailing what data the project will generate, whether and how it will be made accessible for verification and re-use, and how it will be curated and preserved. The use of a DMP is required for projects participating in the Open Research Data Pilot. Other projects are invited to submit a DMP if relevant for their planned research but only funded projects are required to submit a DMP.


2017 key priorities
The Commission wants the 2017 Horizon 2020 work programme update to support competitiveness through open science. The calls and other actions under the current work programme updates have a budget of €8.5 billion. All the calls and related information are published on a single portal and build on the success of Horizon 2020 to date.

The Horizon 2020 Work Programme is directly aligned with the agenda of the Commission. It will contribute to the Jobs, Growth and Investment Package helping to strengthen Europe’s global competitiveness through innovation to create new and sustainable jobs and promote growth.

The 2017 announcement highlighted six priorities:
  • A new Boost for Jobs, Growth and Investment - Research and innovation investments will cover both the immediate need to engage the re-industrialisation of Europe as well as the longer-term objective of building solid knowledge needed for the next wave of innovative breakthroughs. This includes around €1.45 billion of funding for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), including €438 million through a dedicated instrument which should benefit over 1 000 highly innovative SMEs.
  • A Stronger Global Actor, Towards a New Policy on Migration, and an Area of Justice and Fundamental Rights Based on Mutual Trust – this demonstrates the flexibility of Horizon 2020 to address topical issues including an €11 million package of migration actions and €49 million to assist research on the Fight against crime and terrorism. 
  • A Resilient Energy Union with a Forward-Looking Climate Change Policy – to ensure that Europe has secure, affordable and climate-friendly energy including initiatives to close the water cycle gap, by reconciling water supply and demand in both quantitative and qualitative terms with a budget of €10 million in the 'Greening the economy' call and research to support the future development of a production base for next generation Lithium battery cells or post-lithium battery cells under the Green Vehicles cPPP.  In total the 2017 energy calls dedicate more than €84 million for developing energy storage systems improving the flexibility of the energy grid to integrate an increasing share of renewables.
  • A Deeper and Fairer Internal Market with a Strengthened Industrial Base – this priority includes a call on Industry 2020 in the Circular Economy (€225 million) which will contribute to boosting and renewing Europe's industrial capacities while ensuring sustainability and a call on personalised medicine (€332 million).
  • A Connected Digital Single Market – to address existing barriers that access and providing innovative digital solutions including in electronics, computing, networking, robotics, photonics and cybersecurity.
  • Cross-cutting and other features - supporting a range of cross-cutting initiatives in 2017 including Industry 2020 in the Circular Economy (€325 million) and Smart and Sustainable Cities (€115 million).
Research Integrity
The EU's Horizon 2020 research funding programme has now a more specific set of rules on research integrity to be followed by beneficiaries. The revamped model agreement provides more clarity on previously general requirements contained in Article 34 of the agreement. The article now explicitly calls for beneficiaries to respect the principles of honesty, reliability, objectivity, impartiality, open communication, duty of care, and fairness and responsibility for future science generations.

The European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity has recently been revised in a process led by All European Academies (ALLEA), and once updated, in January 2017, the new code together with the revised Article 34 will constitute an effective mechanism to promote adherence to the highest standards of research integrity across Europe.

European Parliament Safeguards Horizon 2020 Funding
Meanwhile earlier this month the European Parliament adopted an own-initiative report that calls on the Commission and the European Council to support the report’s proposal to safeguard Europe’s research and innovation budget in the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF).

In its report, the European Parliament “regrets that the portion of the EU budget dedicated to research and innovation has often been the first to be affected by any cuts in the budget” and demands an increase to the ceiling of the competitiveness heading of the MFF in order to compensate for European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) related cuts.

More information

The SusChem Brokerage event will also outline SusChem relevant work package details and help participants to find project partners and start their Horizon 2020 journey! Register today

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Save the date: 14 September for Societal Challenge 5 InfoDay

On 14 September 2016 the European Commission is holding an Information Day and Brokerage event covering the 2017 calls for proposals in Horizon 2020's Societal Challenge 5: ‘Climate Action, Environment, Resource Efficiency and Raw Materials’ in Brussels. The actual call will be launched in autumn 2016.

Societal challenge 5 is a key area of interest for SusChem and features in the SusChem Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda. Interested stakeholders from the research community, businesses and public administration are invited to register as soon as possible for this briefing in Brussels and to start consortium building.

A draft agenda for the meeting is available. The event takes place in the European Commission's Charlemagne building at rue de la Loi 170, Brussels and you can register here.

The event will open with two plenary sessions: the first introducing Societal Challenge 5 on Climate Action, Environment, Resource Efficiency and Raw Materials followed by a session on effective proposal submission; and the second session covers open data and risk management issues.

This will be followed by parallel sessions covering the following topic areas:
  • Nature-based solutions & Cultural heritage for sustainable growth
  • Climate services and decarbonisation, The Arctic dimension and earth observation
  • Raw Materials
  • Circular economy
A full list of call topics for Societal Challenge 5 for 2017 can be found here.

In the afternoon there will be an extended brokerage and matchmaking session.

Live webcast
If you can’t make it to Brussels on 14 September the morning plenary sessions and the parallel sessions will be webcast live (links available nearer the event) and after the event video recordings with sound and integrated slide presentations will be made available online too.

For more information contact the event organisers.


Friday, 15 July 2016

Horizon Prize for #useCO2 and more

The European Commission has recently announced three new topics for its novel Horizon Prizes including one for ‘CO2 reuse’ - an area of great interest to SusChem that features in the SusChem Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda (SIRA). All the three new Horizon Prizes aim to encourage innovation and find solutions to challenges in the area of energy.

The Commission’s Horizon Prizes are 'challenge' prizes that offer a cash reward to whoever can most effectively meet a defined challenge. Their aim is to stimulate innovation and come up with solutions to problems that matter to European citizens.

Worth a total of €3.25 million and funded under the Horizon 2020 programme, in addition to developing products that help cut emissions by reusing carbon dioxide (CO2) the prizes will reward innovative approaches to integrating solar energy into historical buildings, and using renewable energy in hospitals.

Launching the three new prizes Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: "Protecting our rich cultural heritage and providing state-of-the-art hospitals need not be at odds with our goal for a sustainable, affordable and low-carbon energy future. These prizes will help mobilise the talent needed to find new ways to deploy existing technologies to achieve these goals, and the innovative reuse of CO2 will help to tackle climate change, one of the major societal challenges worldwide."

The chemical activation and use of CO2 has been a topic of great interest to SusChem for many years and SusChem closely follows progress in CO2 utilisation and regularly tweets on developments using the #useCO2 hashtag. For example Covestro recently announced the opening of its DREAM useCO2 facility and we have covered EU-funded projects, such as SCOT and BIO-TIC, which look to make use of waste CO2. The SCOT project recently held its end of project meeting.

The topic also features in the SusChem Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda (SIRA).

Prize details
The €1.5 million Horizon Prize CO2 reuse will be awarded to the developer of an innovative product that reuses carbon dioxide (CO2), making a genuine contribution to achieving net emissions reductions.

The €1 million Horizon Prize Low carbon hospital will contribute to finding solutions for using 100% renewable energy sources for heat and power generation in hospital buildings. The award will go to an innovative solution integrating several technologies into one energy system, which can guarantee uninterrupted energy supply.

The €750 000 Horizon Prize Photovoltaics meets history addresses the technical constraints in integrating photovoltaic energy sources in historical urban districts. The prize will be awarded to the most suitable architectural and aesthetical design for a photovoltaic energy system which at the same time presents an optimal technical solution.

Contestants can apply until 26 September 2018 for the Photovoltaics meets history contest and until 3 April 2019 for the two others. Applicants have total freedom in the approach they take to deliver the breakthrough solution. The rules of the contests are available on the Horizon Prizes website.

What are Horizon Prizes?
First a technological or societal challenge, for which no solution has been found, is defined and an award is promised for the delivered breakthrough solution. The criteria for the specific award outlines what the solution must be capable of proving, however the means to reach the solution are not prescribed, leaving entrants total freedom to come up with the most promising and effective solution.

You can find out more about the Horizon Prize process in the video below.



Horizon Prizes are not like the Nobel Prize or the Sakharov Prize that celebrate outstanding achievements performed in the past. Challenge prizes like the Horizon Prizes and the US X-Prizes support and accelerate change in the world and can be an important driver for innovation.

In March 2014, the European Commission announced the winner of its first ever challenge prize to encourage inventors to overcome one of the biggest barriers to using vaccines in developing countries: the need to keep them stable at any ambient temperature. The €2 million prize was awarded to German biopharmaceutical company CureVac GmbH for progress towards a novel technology to bring life-saving vaccines to people across the planet in safe and affordable ways.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Innovation: an Opportunity for Europe Now!

A new report from the European Political Strategy Centre (EPSC) has just been published that outlines the state of innovation in Europe today and how a future innovative Europe could be inspired. Report author, Robert Madelin (pictured right), is the European Commission’s first ever Senior Innovation Adviser. SusChem welcomes this significant contribution to the debate on Innovation and Competitiveness in Europe.

The report 'Opportunity Now: Europe's Mission to Innovate' argues that Europe has always been a world-leading inventor. We retain the core skills and deep science culture that have made this possible. In this century too, Europe can contribute a great share of the world’s new tools: in genomics and biotech, in data and materials, in energy and nutrition, in propulsion and cognition, in health and well-being, both physical and mental.

But will Europe continue its innovation mission? This is not a theoretical or empirical question but one of intent and principle argues Madelin. How do we choose politically to be innovators?

If Europe dropped its mission to innovate, the blame would lie not with the world but with ourselves. But if we choose to hold to the innovator’s path, we can succeed: and in doing so, we shall innovate our way to social inclusion and sustainability as well as to productivity, growth and jobs.

This report clarifies what is at stake for Europe and makes the case for a renewed commitment to an innovative Europe.

You can listen to Robert Madelin talking about the report below.


His main findings are:

It’s Complicated… Innovation happens in complex ecosystems. Too often, we imagine innovation in a linear way, as a pipe-line with inputs and outputs. But where we focus only on the pipeline, we miss the real needs of Europe’s more diverse and demand-driven innovators. We need more open collaboration, both globally and between citizens, governments and inventors at home.

Everyone Must Own their Share in the Revolution The world faces pervasive disruption. Europe can own, not merely experience, this Revolution. Europe can catch the wave because we are a mature community of values and an open society. Europe has what it takes to design and deliver an innovation founded better future of our own: social inclusion and sustainability, as well as growth and jobs, are at stake.

Focus on People, Places and Processes Europe needs better assets as well as a broader vision. We have to get back to basics. The three key foundation actions for innovation are:

  • upskilling Europe’s people,
  • using local strengths to underpin local innovation, and 
  • transforming public processes. 

Seize the Opportunity Now is the time for a fresh start. Feasible initiatives in the year ahead, joined up at local, national and EU level and pursued at scale, will bear fruit by the end of the decade.

The report is the 15th EPSC Strategic Notes. These are analytical papers on topics chosen by the President of the European Commission.

Full notes and references, insight articles and bibliography are included in the e-book version of the report that is available on line.

You can read an article by Robert Madelin on his Innovation report published in E!Sharp here.

About the author
The author of the report is Robert Madelin - the European Commission’s first ever Senior Innovation Adviser. In this post since September 2015, Robert was born in England and joined the UK civil service in 1979 after studying at Oxford University. He joined the European Commission in 1993 and became a Director-General in 2004. During his Commission career he has worked on a wide variety of issues including investment, Asia-Pacific trade, services and biotech in DG Trade, followed by health, food safety, agricultural innovation and consumer protection (2004-2010) and digital innovation, Internet governance, telecoms unions and media policy (2010-2015). You can follow Rober Madelin on twitter via @eurohumph.

About EPSC
The European Political Strategy Centre (EPSC) reports directly to the President of the European Commission and operates under his authority. It is composed of a professional staff of advisers, policy analysts and support staff with appropriate experience and track record, in order to provide professional and targeted policy advice to the President and the College of Commissioners. EPSC provides strategic analysis and policy advice for the President on matters related to the policy priorities, and outreach to decision-makers, think tanks and civil society at large.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Register now for the SusChem Brokerage Event

More details are now available for the recently announced SusChem 2016 Brokerage event which will take place on Tuesday, 13 September 2016, in Seville, Spain. And registration is now open! The SusChem Brokerage event will take place at the FIBES - Seville Conference Centre during the Sixth European Chemistry Congress organised by EuCheMS and the Asociación Nacional de Químicos de España, ANQUE. The Congress itself runs from 11 to 15 September.

The SusChem Brokerage event is a unique opportunity for industry, academia, SMEs and other sustainable chemistry research and innovation actors to get ready to develop consortia and submit funding proposals targeting the more than 70 SusChem-relevant Horizon 2020-2017 call topics with deadlines falling in the period Q4 2016 and Q1 2017. 

The identified call topics include potential projects in research areas such as Raw Materials, Energy Sources, Process Technologies, Material Technologies and Horizontal Issues.

A dedicated registration website has been established for the SusChem Brokerage event and registration is open now. Participation in the event is free to all stakeholders

During the SusChem Brokerage event participants will be able to:

  • Present project ideas to large chemical companies and  the SusChem stakeholder community
  • Meet consortias looking for partners
  • Interact with other stakeholders during the speed dating session


Get involved!
Project ideas for the Horizon 2020-2017 can be submitted on the GRANT-IT portal. All submitted project ideas will be made available to the SusChem community and will allow interested partners to contact you for meeting requests when the SusChem Brokerage event 'speed dating' tool is open.

For additional information on the event and for questions related to accommodation or how to access the venue, please visit the SusChem 2016 Brokerage event registration portal at suschembrokerage.comThe SusChem 2016 Brokerage event is jointly organized with SusChem Spain.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Chemistry for the World of Tomorrow - 23 October 2016

The International Solvay Institutes are pleased to announce the organisation of their annual public event on Sunday 23 October 2016 afternoon at the Flagey Studios in Brussels. The theme of the 2016 event is ‘‘Chemistry for the World of Tomorrow’’. The lectures are intended for the general public and will be given on fascinating subjects at the frontiers of sustainable chemistry.

The two featured lectures will be:


The lectures will be followed by a panel discussion of distinguished scientists led by Professor Kurt Wüthrich (ETH and Scripps Institute), 2002 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry. The audience will have the opportunity to ask questions to the panel on the most pressing issues facing today’s chemistry.

The lectures and debate will be delivered in English with simultaneous translations to Dutch and French provided.

The event is free but participants are requested to register. Registration will be open at the beginning of September on the Solvay Institutes web site.

The International Solvay Institutes owe their existence to the vision of Ernest Solvay, who founded the International Institute for Physics in 1912 and the International Institute for Chemistry in 1913.

About the Solvay Institutes 
In 1970 the Solvay family in association with the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), founded an independent body, the International Institutes for Physics and Chemistry, founded by Ernest Solvay, to continue that important quest for the advancement of scientific knowledge established by the Solvay Institutes.

Over the years, the International Solvay Institutes have become a symbol of scientific excellence, and one of the best known Belgian research institutions, consistently supported by the Solvay family (for more than 100 years now, spanning five generations).