Monday, 30 March 2015

SusChem at Malta Water Week!

On 25 March Antonia Morales Perez, Cefic innovation manager responsible for leading SusChem's contribution to the European Innovation Partnerships on Water and on Raw Materials took part in the Malta Water Week Conference where she presented the latest solutions that the chemical industry has to offer towards industrial symbiosis and in particular sustainable water management. The event happened just after World Water Day (22 March)

SusChem supports water conservation, recycling and re-use as an innovation priority and water is featured in the new SusChem Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda (SIRA). Water is a scarce resource and a critical element for the development of our society and economy. The chemical industry is a significant user of water, but also an important solution provider of innovative products, technologies and services which can enable more sustainable water and wastewater management.

Fit-for-purpose
Water symbiosis and delivery of ‘fit-for-purpose’ water flows are considered as key elements to ensure and enable optimal and integrated (re)use of water, not only for the chemical industry but for other sectors as well. Antonia's presentation to the conference focused on results coming out of the FP7 project E4Water in which SusChem participates. This includes six industry case studies that are developing new approaches to solve different challenges in water reuse and recycling to achieve a final goal of integration of the industrial-urban and agricultural sectors.

The conference kicked-off with a video message from Karmenu Vella, the European Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.

Malta Water Week takes the heart of the Mediterranean as its starting point, using a public-private focus to generate business, collaborations and partnerships looking at innovation in water management solutions, technology and practices. In particular, the conference will be addressing a variety of themes with a focus on best practices and innovative solutions to water challenges, highlighting examples and lessons among others, including:
  • Smart Water Infrastructures
  • Innovative Water Technologies
  • Water Reuse
  • Water Education
  • Innovative Financial Solutions
What is Malta Water Week?
Malta Water Week is a leading Mediterranean water event featuring a number of activities centred around innovation in water-management solutions and technology, novel financing ideas in water, expert intervention, the bringing together of international businesses and investors, and the sharing of best practices amongst all participating entities while showcasing the opportunities brought forth by current and future challenges in water.

Malta Water Week is organised by Paragon Europe within the margins of the Water Efficiency in European Urban Areas project. The project is based on the ambition to create an open European platform for EU excellence in water efficiency in urban water management. This platform will enable participating clusters and regions to bring together knowledge and innovation potential through collaboration and mutually learning on a trans-national basis.

For more information about SusChem’s contribution to Malta Water Week, please contact Antonia Morales Perez.

CRM_InnoNet publishes two more Roadmaps for Public Consultation on Substitution

The CRM_InnoNet FP7 project has just published two more Roadmaps for public consultation on Critical Raw Materials (CRMs) Substitution. These new draft roadmaps cover two themes: Photonics including High-end Optics; Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) and Electronic Components. The consultation is open until 17 April 2015.

The two new road maps complete the set of five roadmaps for consultation on Substitution of Critical Raw Materials (CRMs). The roadmaps cover areas that CRM_InnoNet considers most likely under threat from CRM related supply bottlenecks. These are:
  • Electric Motor & Drives
  • Batteries & Accumulators
  • High-value Alloys
  • Photonics including High-end Optics
  • Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) and Electronic Components
These roadmaps have been elaborated in consultation with external experts capturing options and timelines for substituting critical raw materials up to the year 2030. 

The first three themes above (Electric motors and drives, batteries and accumulators, and high-value alloys) were subject to consultation earlier in the year. The consultation on the two new roadmap drafts can be accessed via the CRM_InnoNet website

The closing date for feedback is 17 April 2015. If you have any questions on the consultation process, please contact the CRM_InnoNet secretariat.

What is the CRM_InnoNet Innovation Network?
The CRM_InnoNet Innovation Network is a proactive and dynamic network of key stakeholders from industry, academia and other organisations interested in the substitution of critical raw materials. The network provides an identity and focus for researchers and businesses with an interest in substitution, drawing together a community which contains representatives from different disciplines and sectors together with a focus on substitution for the first time.

Register now for the 2015 SusChem Stakeholder Event!

The 2015 SusChem Stakeholder event will take place on 8 and 9 June at the Sheraton Rogier Hotel in Brussels and registration is already open. Following the recent publication of SusChem’s Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda (SIRA) the main focus of the event will be on SIRA implementation and there will be a brand new feature: an Open Innovation SME workshop!

The theme of the 2015 SusChem Stakeholder event will be 'Propelling Sustainable Chemistry to Exciting New Frontiers - Implementing the New Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda' and  the two-day event will include plenty of exciting activities and present important new developments for the SusChem community.

These include:
  • The presentation of the key highlights addressed in the SIRA by SusChem Board members, followed by a stakeholder breakout discussion on how to translate the SIRA into concrete action 
  • Speakers on Materials Technologies and Societal Challenges, Resource Efficiency and the bio-economy, and ICT tools for the chemical industry
  • Conclusions from the breakout session discussions to be addressed in a lively panel debate on day two
  • The latest news and activities from our SusChem National Technology Platforms (NTPs)
  • A new Open Innovation SME workshop that will take place on the afternoon of 9 June followed by a poster session and our ever-popular speed-dating brokerage session.
The SME Innovation workshop will be an ideal opportunity for SMEs to profile their expertise and project concept. For an overview of the 2015 SusChem Stakeholder Event download the draft agenda.

We look forward to meeting you on 8 and 9 June in Brussels! Register and reserve your place today!

Accommodation for delegates is available at Sheraton Rogier Hotel in Brussels for the days of the event. SusChem has arranged for rooms to be blocked at a fixed rate until 15 May. You can book via this link.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

R4R Fuel Cell Conference in Szczecin

A conference on 'Fuel cells – energy and transportation – design, prototyping, implementation' is to be held in Szczecin, Poland on 22 April 2015. The event is supported by the SusChem inspired FP7 project Chemical Regions for Resource Efficiency (R4R) and will bring together all the important actors along the hydrogen and fuel cell value chain in Europe.


The conference will cover all aspects of the hydrogen and fuel cell value chain. Opening presentations will describe the development of hydrogen powered public transport in Szczecin and give an overview of the progress in fuel cells, before looking at the value chain in detail during the main morning session. After lunch the focus moves onto technical solutions.

The agenda for the conference can be downloaded here.

Currently over 60 attendees from six different countries will be joining the event. To book your place contact the conference organisers with your contact details (name, organization, email). The deadline for registration is 15 April 2015.

About R4R
Launched in late 2012, R4R is funded for three years under the European Commission’s FP7 Research and Innovation Framework Programme. The ‘Chemical Regions for Resource Efficiency (R4R)’ project aims to overcome fragmentation of European ambitious and innovative regions. Through its methodology, R4R could lead the path to a range of promising and positive impacts on resource efficiency.

R4R brings together six complementary EU Regions (Aragon in Spain, Göteborg in Sweden, North Rhine–Westphalia in Germany, the Port of Rotterdam and the South-West regions in the Netherlands, and West Pomerania in Poland), each with their own public and private research and innovation expertise. The R4R project aims to achieve a major step improvement in regional and transnational cooperation among its participating regions and will develop practices, tools and examples which can be easily disseminated to and adopted by multiple European regions to improve regional and cross-regional collaboration in general, and in the process industry on resource efficiency in particular.

R4R will create a platform for international collaboration on resource efficiency with clusters in third countries to improve and accelerate innovation and promote European eco-innovative technologies globally. To find out more visit the R4R website.

Monday, 16 March 2015

SusChem SIRA published: 2015 Stakeholder event registration opens soon

Today (16 March) the European Technology Platform (ETP) for Sustainable Chemistry (SusChem) has published its Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda (SIRA) and confirmed the dates for the next SusChem Stakeholder event as 8 and 9 June 2015. The new SIRA sets out SusChem’s research and innovation priorities for the short and medium term and the next steps and implementation for this ambitious agenda will be a major theme of the stakeholder event in June.

The SIRA document highlights the role the chemical industry in boosting innovation in Europe and the potential for sustainable chemistry technologies to tackle societal challenges, as outlined in the European Commission’s Research Framework programme Horizon 2020.


The document introduces major changes from the past SusChem Strategic Research Agendas (SRA) by addressing new topics such as ICT and Manufacturing, the value chain impact, mobility and health. It also outlines the crucial links between SusChem's priorities and the Key Enabling Technologies (KETs) that Europe has been pushing forward.

Sustainable chemical value
Some 20% of the annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the European Union (EU) is due to the direct and indirect contributions of the chemical industry to EU Gross Value Added (GVA). The industry works along nearly all value chains and across industrial sectors ranging from pharmaceuticals and crop protection to the automotive sector, defence, construction, textiles and consumer goods.

The European chemical industry plays a pivotal role in supporting Europe 2020: the EU’s growth strategy that aims to transform the EU into a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy. The SIRA explains the strategy and role of SusChem in this context. It highlights a portfolio of sustainable chemistry research and innovation actions that the platform believes can make a significant contribution to improving competitiveness and sustainability in the EU, address societal challenges and contribute to achieving jobs and inclusive growth.

“Everything we do should be focused on ultimately improving societal conditions, in particular, with respect to sustainability – working for ‘People, Planet and Profit’”, says Dr Klaus Sommer, Chairman of the SusChem board. “Our work will be fully justified if we can simultaneously create jobs, improve the environment and generate greater economic success and wellbeing.”

“In this spirit, the new SIRA is a great opportunity for SusChem and sustainable chemistry research and innovation across Europe,” continues Dr Sommer. “The SIRA will add value to the societal, scientific and industrial debate and help us to focus on the real challenges we face.”

Societal challenges
The SIRA is organised around five of the seven key societal challenges described in Horizon 2020 and highlights a portfolio of potential sustainable chemistry solutions. Each challenge is covered in a dedicated SIRA chapter:
  • Climate action, resource efficiency and raw materials 
  • Food security, sustainable agriculture and the bioeconomy
  • Secure, clean and efficient energy
  • Health, demographic change and wellbeing
  • Smart, green and integrated transport
Two further SIRA chapters cover Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and Horizontal Issues. A SusChem press release on the SIRA launch can be accessed here giving more details on the document.

Stakeholder event 2015
Next steps and the implementation of the SIRA will be discussed at the SusChem Stakeholder event to be held in Brussels on 8 and 9 June 2015. The title of the event will be ‘Propelling Sustainable Chemistry to Exciting New Frontiers: Implementing the Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda’.

Registration for the 2015 Stakeholder event is scheduled to open on 24 March. Mark the dates in your agenda now!

The SIRA is the result of widespread consultation and input from SusChem's stakeholder community - not least discussions at SusChem's 10-year Stakeholder event in June 2014. SusChem now looks forward to working with its partners to implement these ideas over the next few years.

The SIRA has already been presented to European Commission officials and will form part of the input to future calls under Horizon 2020. You can download the full SIRA document here.

For more information on SusChem activities, the new SusChem SIRA and opportunities at the SusChem event contact Jacques Komornicki, SusChem Coordinator at Cefic.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

SPIRE Newsletter out, Horizon 2020 survey launched

The Sustainable Process Industry through Resource and Energy Efficiency (SPIRE) PPP has just published its first newsletter. The newsletter is available by subscription via the SPIRE website and will regularly inform subscribers of the key activities within and around the SPIRE Public-Private Partnership as well as other issues related to the European Process Industry. The first issue contains a wealth of news and information on some important upcoming events. Subscribe today!

The first SPIRE newsletter contains articles on:

  • The first SPIRE Horizon 2020 projects that resulted for the SPIRE first call in 2014 
  • The launch of SPIRE project DISIRE that aims to set new standards in energy efficiency for chemical, steel and mineral processing as well as for the combustion processes used in many industrial sectors
  • Views on the early results for the second SPIRE call currently being evaluated
  • Work on the next SPIRE calls that should be published in September 2015
  • The next SPIRE Brokerage event that will take place on 29-30 June 2015
  • SPIRE's involvement with the European Parliament including SPIRE's recent membership of the Knowledge4Innovation Forum (K4I)
  • New members of the A.SPIRE consortium
  • Upcoming events

SPIRE Survey
A short SPIRE survey has also been launched to gather information on stakeholder experiences with the first year of the Horizon 2020 programme. The anonymous survey will provide valuable feedback that can be used to propose potential improvements in the SPIRE work programme and call processes as well as contribute to the mid-term review of Horizon 2020 itself that will take place in 2017.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Chemical industry: a solution provider for water efficiency



Updated 29 March with presentation links! 

On 12 March ACQUEAU hosted a workshop on Industrial Waste Water Treatment in Helsinki, Finland. The workshop aimed to foster collaboration amongst water stakeholders and stimulate new project ideas and was hosted by TEKES, the Finnish funding agency for innovation. More than 60 people attended the workshop sharing know-how, presenting project ideas and innovative technologies. And SusChem was there to showcase how sustainable chemistry can deliver new innovative materials and solutions to the water industry.

Water is a scarce resource and a critical element for the development of our society and economy. The chemical industry is a user of water, but also an important solution provider of innovative products, technologies and services which can enable more sustainable water and wastewater management.


To this end, SusChem and the chemical industry are very active in the European Innovation Partnership Water (Water EIP). Cefic Innovation Manager and Co-ordinator of the SusChem National Platforms (NTPs), Antonia Morales Perez, joined the ACQUEAU workshop to present new, efficient approaches that that  are under development with the E4Water FP7 funded project. The project is currently looking at six different case studies that use innovative technologies as a means to achieve a more efficient water management in the chemical industry and other sectors.

The workshop featured case studies on Industrial Wastewater Treatment from the metals and mining industry, pulp and paper, and the chemical industry. The national funding programmes of Sweden, Canada and Finland were presented by national representatives. In the afternoon a brokerage session for the current ACQUEAU Open Call also took place with project leaders having the chance to present their ideas to the audience and meet up potential project partners. In total five project leaders presented ideas and water solutions.

You can download the final programme for the event here and you can find details of the projects presented at the brokerage session here.

About ACQUEAU
ACQUEAU is a market and industry-driven initiative of the EUREKA Clusters, a group of public-private partnerships which aim to develop generic technologies of key importance to European competitiveness.

For more information about SusChem’s contribution towards water efficiency measures, contact Antonia Morales.

Biobased polymers: super highway or dirt road towards a European bioindustry?

Biobased polymers are one of five business cases analysed in the framework of BIO-TIC, the SusChem-inspired FP7 project that set itself the ambitious task of identifying hurdles to full deployment of industrial biotechnology in Europe and finding ways to overcome them. The project will be holding a free Webinar on 17 March 2015 starting at 1 pm (CET) on the subject of Biobased polymers – highway or dirt road towards a European bioindustry?

The webinar will introduce the BIO-TIC roadmaps on R&D, non-technological and market related aspects of the use of industrial biotechnology in the European bio-based polymers sector.

The supplier perspective will be given by the guest speaker, Dr. Joachim Schulze, Head of Biotechnology at ThyssenKrupp Industrial Solutions who run a polylactic acid (PLA) demonstration plant in Leuna, Germany. Dr. Schulze will present his views on the future of the PLA value chain and evolution of the PLA business in general.

To register for the webinar, please click here.

BIO-TIC is keen to get your feedback on their roadmaps and hear your comments both during and after the webinar. For more information on the BIO-TIC project, please visit the project website.

Biobased plastics
Today, biobased plastics have an established market and are rapidly growing both in Europe and on a global scale. Between 2008 and 2013, biobased plastics showed a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20% in the EU. In 2013, Europe was both the largest biobased plastics consumer and producer, supplying one-third of the global biobased plastics output.

Concerns about plastic waste issues, GHG emissions and oil price fluctuation are pushing the public sector, businesses and consumers towards more sustainable alternatives to conventional plastics. Biobased plastics are a heterogeneous group consisting of:

  • Biodegradable and/or compostable biobased polymers (e.g. PLA and PHAs)
  • Non biodegradable biobased polymers (e.g. biobased PE, partially biobased PET and PTT) and thermosets (e.g. partially biobased polyurethanes and epoxies)

With the drop in fossil fuel prices, the cost-competitiveness of EU biobased plastics production compared to other regions is expected to become  increasingly difficult. On top of this, several other hurdles are impeding the development of the bioplastics industry in the EU. These include:

  • Lack of government support for biobased plastics
  • Difficulties in translating research into concrete products
  • Lack of public awareness of biobased plastics and their benefits
  • Further technology development required in some sectors to improve functionality

More information on BIO-TIC
BIO-TIC is a three-year European Commission-funded project which aims to identify the hurdles to industrial biotechnology and to develop solutions to overcome them, thereby unlocking the massive potential for this key technology in Europe.

The project focuses on five product groups which have significant potential for Europe and which have the potential to introduce cross cutting technology ideas. These product groups are

  • Biobased chemical building blocks
  • Biobased plastics
  • Biosurfactants
  • Advanced biofuels
  • CO2 based chemicals

A final BIO-TIC action plan for developing the industrial biotechology sector in Europe, along with its three separate roadmaps on market, R&D and non-technological aspects focusing on the opportunities above, will be delivered by the project in summer 2015.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Ninth CRM_InnoNet Newsletter published

The latest (ninth) issue of the CRM_InnoNet newsletter (below) has just been published and is available to download from the project website.


The March 2015 issue includes the following features:


More on CRM_InnoNet
The CRM_InnoNet Innovation Network is a Coordination and Support Action (CSA) funded under FP7 that is creating an integrated community to drive innovation in the field of critical raw material substitution for the benefit of EU industry. SusChem is a significant supporter of the network.

The European Innovation Partnership (EIP) on Raw Materials aims to play a major role in securing a sustainable supply of raw materials for Europe and has set itself an ambitious list of targets to achieve by 2020. CRM_InnoNet’s goals complement those of the EIP on Raw Materials and the project will seek to align its outputs with those of the EIP.

The CRM_InnoNet consortium is comprised of recognised and experienced key actors across the value chain of substitution of CRM representing academic, research and industry bodies of relevant sectors that will ensure a wide European coverage and high potential to engage other necessary players across the ERA.

For more information on CRM_InnoNet email the project secretariat at the UK’s Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) and you can also follow the project on Twitter.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Making it happen for Chemical SMEs

On 24 February the European Chemical Regions Network (ECRN) organised a workshop in Brussels on “Small and Medium- sized enterprises, the engine of the European Industry”. The workshop took place at the Committee of the Regions and SusChem was there to present its activities in support of SMEs in the chemical industry across Europe.

The event was hosted by the Committee of the Regions and was opened by Mr. Hartmut Moellring, ECRN President and Minister of Science and Economic Affairs, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany and Karl-Uwe Buetof, ECRN Vice President and Director, Ministry of Economic Affairs, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. Both ECRN spokesmen stressed the importance of SMEs in Europe, which represent more than 95% of the total industry with slightly differences depending on the specific sectors.

SusChem supports SMEs
Cristina Gonzalez (pictured below) from Feique (the Spanish Federation of Chemical Industries) and the Secretariat of SusChem Spain presented on behalf of SusChem and talked about “Chemical SMEs, making it happen”. The percentage of SMEs in the European chemical industry is more than 95%, with a similar figure for Spain itself.


She presented Cefic and Feique, and explained the role of SusChem, the European Technology Platform on Sustainable Chemistry and its network of National Technology Platforms. She highlighted how Feique and SusChem Spain can help Spanish SMEs in addressing regulation and other aspects having an impact in their daily business activities, such as raising awareness and training them in aspects of the REACH legislation; and the open innovation portal (SusChem innova) to facilitate consortia building.

Finally she presented the SusChem project “Skills needed for Innovation”, a survey run among larger chemical companies to identify skill gaps and requirements. The results of this survey had also been validated with SMEs. She described the SusChem programme “Educate to Innovate” that is focused on exploiting innovation results from R&I projects, enhancing innovation skills and engaging industry and higher education institutions. You can download her presentation here.

Regions for SMEs
Earlier Thomas Wobben, Director of Horizontal Networks and Studies, Committee of the Regions talked about the key role of regional authorities in supporting SMEs. He announced the adoption of the Energy package for Europe to be approved in the Spring Council which will have a significant impact on the Chemical Industry as one of Europe’s major energy users.

The Committee of the Regions interact very closely with the EU regions to promote entrepreneurship in SMEs and to develop fitness assessments on how regulations affect the activities of small and medium companies.

The Small Business Act (SBA) adopted by the EU Commission aims to address the needs of Europe SMEs by establishing 10 principles to guide the implementation of EU policies. Skills and innovation, together with public support for their needs and facilitating information provision are amongst the key principles included.

The Committee of the Regions launched the European Entrepreneurial Region (EER) Award label to facilitate the implementation of the “Small Business Act for Europe” at regional and local levels. This project identifies and rewards European regions with excellent entrepreneurial visions with the label of “Entrepreneurial region of the year”. Some recent winners include the regions of County Kerry (Ireland, EER 2011); Murcia (Spain, EER 2011); State of Brandenburg (Germany, EER 2011) and Southern Denmark (Denmark, EER 2013).

Commission view
Joanna Drake, Director of Entrepreneurship and SMEs at the European Commission DG Growth highlighted the importance of SMEs for the European economy with more than 20 Million companies. She argued that complicity is the key to success; complicity with EU Institutions, National and Regional authorities, all working together to facilitate the existence of small companies, through information and helping them overcome barriers.

The burden of regulation has been identified as one of the major problems for SMEs. REACH has been highlighted as the most unfriendly regulation for small and medium enterprises. As a result, ECHA is now revising the process to help SMEs.

To support/encourage SMEs in Europe, some actions need to be taken into account, including cutting the time and cost for setting up a company; cooperation with authorities at all levels; facilitating access to finance; networking; internationalization; and giving SMEs more visibility. A lack of appropriate skills was also mentioned as a weaknesses for SMEs.

To conclude the workshop, some good practice examples from European chemical regions were presented: the Chemi-Cluster in Bayern; the Competitiveness & Innovation Unit in Wallonia; and KV consulting Services BVBA from Flanders.

Best Practice for Resource Efficiency

The ‘Best Practices on Resource Efficiency for the Chemical Industry’ workshop will take place on 18 March at the CIRCE Office at Rue du Trone 98, Brussels from 9:00. The workshop will discuss how partners in the FP7 R4R (Chemical Regions for Resource Efficiency) project and external clusters have or plan to implement best practice and action plans to make the European Chemical Industry more resource efficient and to discuss potential ways to increase collaboration.

The workshop is a unique opportunity to meet the principle chemical clusters in Europe and learn from their experiences. The main focus will be on non-technical solutions proposed within a cluster to improve the resource efficiency of its members: new business models, structural reorganisations, adoption of tools that facilitate interactions, financing and management for innovation etc.

The outcome of the workshop will be included in documentation to be sent to the European Commission.

Registration
You can download the flyer for the workshop here. Places at the workshop are limited. To confirm your participation or for more information, please contact Carlos Arsuaga at CIRCE. The registration deadline for the workshop is 10 March. CIRCE is an energy research centre founded in 1993 with support from the University of Zaragoza in Spain.

About R4R
Launched in late 2012, R4R is funded for three years under the European Commission’s FP7 Research and Innovation Framework Programme. The ‘Chemical Regions for Resource Efficiency (R4R)’ project aims to overcome fragmentation of European ambitious and innovative regions. Through its methodology, R4R could lead the path to a range of promising and positive impacts on resource efficiency.

R4R brings together six complementary EU Regions (Aragon in Spain, Göteborg in Sweden, North Rhine–Westphalia in Germany, the Port of Rotterdam and the South-West regions in the Netherlands, and West Pomerania in Poland), each with their own public and private research and innovation expertise. The R4R project aims to achieve a major step improvement in regional and transnational cooperation among its participating regions and will develop practices, tools and examples which can be easily disseminated to and adopted by multiple European regions to improve regional and cross-regional collaboration in general, and in the process industry on resource efficiency in particular.

R4R will create a platform for international collaboration on resource efficiency with clusters in third countries to improve and accelerate innovation and promote European eco-innovative technologies globally. To find out more visit the R4R website.