Thursday, 28 February 2013

New KETs HLG to plan future EU industry Strategy

Yesterday (27 February) saw the first meeting of the new High Level Group (HLG) on Key Enabling Technologies (KETs) in Brussels. This second generation KET HLG is tasked with fostering the industrial deployment of KETs in Europe to keep pace with our main international competitors, restore growth, create jobs and help address today's major societal challenges. The chemical sector and its value chain partners are at the fore in the new HLG.

Wolfgang Plischke, Vice President of Cefic and Bayer Management Board member, will serve on the KETs HLG and Gernot Klotz, Executive Director Research & Innovation at Cefic will be active in the ‘associated ‘Sherpa’ group. The SusChem supported SPIRE PPP is also directly represented in the HLG by Markus Asch, President of EUnited with Lionel Platteuw, Executive Director of EUnited, participating in the Sherpa group.

The new KETs HLG met on 27 February in Brussels
The HLG was inaugurated by European Commission Vice-Presidents Antonio Tajani and Neelie Kroes as well as Commissioners Máire Geoghegan-Quinn and Johannes Hahn, reflecting the cross cutting influences on KETs on industry policy, the digital agenda, research, research, innovation and science, and regional policy.

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is also represented in the HLG by EIB Vice President Philippe de Fontaine Vive. At the 27 February meeting an agreement was signed between the Commission and EIB to pave the way for improved access to finance for KETs signalling that this was a priority investment area for Europe.

Cross sector innovation
The European chemical industry believes that cross-sectorial collaboration, like that driven by SusChem, will be one of the most robust ways to drive EU KETs development while ensuring their development and production are firmly based in Europe.

Partnerships should be at the heart of an overall European Commission KETs strategy because these technologies are effective at cutting across different industries, sectors and regions to unleash innovation in a more intelligent way across the value chain.

“Value chain collaboration is the best route to tackle pressing issues like the need for a low-carbon economy or healthy ageing,” said Gernot Klotz. “Those partnerships work well because they address the reality that one sector cannot do it alone, avoiding KETs being placed in silos.”

Opening the 27 February meeting Vice-President Antonio Tajani drew attention to the fact that the Commission had already adapted its policy instruments to promote the industrial deployment of KETs and that more coordination was now needed to prevent the departure of industry from Europe, as well as of the Europe's centres of excellence. He expressed his strong wish that the private sector and other actors represented in the HLG had to contribute to the successful deployment of KETs.

KETs are a main pillar of the forthcoming European Commission Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and at the HLG kick-off meeting Research Commissioner Marie Geoghegan-Quinn described the role of KETs in the programme. You can watch her summary in the video below.

KET chemistry
Four of the six KETs identified by the European Commission to strengthen EU industrial and innovation capacity are core businesses of the chemical sector: advanced materials, industrial biotechnology, nanotechnology and advanced manufacturing.

“If we want Europe to keep or gain a competitive edge, we have to act quickly now to deploy those enabling technologies, connect them with societal challenges and ensure that their production stays in Europe,” commented Gernot Klotz.

The chemicals sector enjoys a unique position in European industry as a value chain captain, engaging with finished-goods producers in Europe to deliver the latest materials and technologies that have a demonstrable use. The sector also benefits from a symbiotic network of small, medium and large companies that enable a wide range of innovative products and technologies.

Gernot Klotz concluded: “The European chemical industry is mobilized and committed to turning the KETs strategy for Europe into tangible solutions that create jobs and growth. To get there, we have to get investment and framework conditions right.”

What are KETs?
The KETs are six priority technologies - nanotechnology, micro and nano-electronics, photonics, advanced materials, industrial biotechnology and advanced manufacturing systems – that have been identified as important levers for innovation and competitiveness in Europe.

What will the HLG do?
The HLG will advise the European Commission on the implementation of the strategy to boost KETs in Europe. The scope of issues to be discussed by the HLG is broad and relates to:
  • Research and innovation aspects, 
  • Financial engineering mechanisms for KETs-projects, 
  • Cooperation of KETs value chain stakeholders, 
  • Trade and state aid related issues, 
  • Human capital & skills and
  • National and regional KETs policies. 
Following this first meeting of the KET HLG, its ‘Sherpa’ working group will meet on a twice-monthly basis to progress the work. The full HLG is scheduled to meet twice a year and will develop and implement the focus given to KETs in the new strategy on industrial policy announced last year. The HLG will advise the Commission and monitor progress in the development and deployment of KETs and will promote the development of KET policies in EU member states.

Who is in the HLG?
  • Technology providers for each of the six KETs 
  • Down-stream industry users to ensure that the KETs Strategy does translate to the production of KETs-based products 
  • Civil society representatives and cross-cutting KETs representatives: including trade unions, NGOs, local and regional authorities as well as the Skills and SME Community, the Research Community and the European Investment Bank; 
  • Public-Private-Partnerships (PPPs), e.g. Efficient Buildings, Factories of the Future, Green Cars and SPIRE.
For more information
European Commission June 2012 Communication on "A European Strategy for Key Enabling Technologies (KETs) – A bridge to growth and jobs". The report shows how KETS can be better used to give European industry the necessary boost to keep its technological leadership and to regain competitiveness.

To find out more on SusChem involvement with KETs visit our website or contact the SusChem secretariat.

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