Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Can the EU Chemical Industry go Carbon Neutral by 2050?

The chemical industry’s ambition is to play a leading role in the transformation of the European economy to a sustainable low-carbon and circular economy by creating innovative climate and energy friendly solutions, both for its own processes and for many other industries through chemical products. A new report 'Low carbon energy and feedstock for the European chemical industry' from SusChem founding partners Dechema and released via the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic) explores how the chemical industry can become carbon neutral by 2050. 

The Dechema study analyses the technological options available for the chemical industry and outlines the conditions necessary to facilitate the transition of the European chemical industry to carbon neutrality.

As well as giving a first full overview of all available technologies for the main chemical production processes, it describes what is needed to refurbish the industrial base we know today in Europe, in a world of shale gas and low oil prices:
  • Abundant low-carbon electricity in much larger volumes and at competitive prices;
  • Availability of alternative feedstocks (e.g. bio-based raw materials, CO2 or industrial waste gases).
  • An enabling fiscal structure to modernise ageing production facilities and equipment or build new plants;
  • Government or public-private support to scale-up technologies and share investment risk for those technologies that are first of a kind or high risk
  • Innovation and research into new chemical technologies that help overcome these challenges.
  • Enabling business models to enhance cross-sectoral collaboration to find sustainable ways to re-use CO2
Role for SusChem and SPIRE
The report concludes that, in order to achieve the EU’s 2050 objectives, an ambitious research and innovation programme will be essential to improve the potential of required advanced technologies, and public-private-partnership efforts will be critical to enable fast deployment and risk sharing for the investments needed. 

In addition, industrial symbiosis opportunities and sustainable materials recycling options should be further explored in order to improve energy and resource efficiency beyond sectorial boundaries. 

Clearly these areas where SusChem and SPIRE are currently working hard to advance sustainable chemistry and sustainable process industry technologies.

Energy intensive
The chemical industry has already halved its energy intensity and greenhouse gas emissions since 1990, but producing chemicals remains one of the most energy intensive industrial processes. Making the sector carbon neutral while retaining its competitiveness in a full circular economy in Europe is a significant challenge, which cannot be solved by the industry on its own.

In an interview with Politico Energy Marco Mensink, Cefic Director General, said that the fact that the industry is looking at how to cut carbon emissions shows that it’s embracing the need for change, “I think we have always taken the position that we are very energy-intensive and that there are huge challenges to become energy neutral,” he said. “But this is a different stance.” Why? Because the attitude of the sector is changing, because the Paris climate agreement has become a reality, and because time is ticking, he added.

The main findings of the report are that the implementation of the technologies investigated in the study would allow for a very significant reduction of CO2 emissions in 2050 (up to 210 Mt annually under the maximum scenario). And including the production and use of fuels related to the pathways considered in the study, the additional CO2 abatement potential in 2050 exceeds the chemical sector’s current emissions even under the intermediate scenario.

Commenting on the report, Marco Mensink said: “Many promising low-carbon technologies are available at a relatively advanced stage of development. The industry will need to find the way to overcome the investment, raw material and energy challenges for them to be implemented on a large scale in Europe.” 

Kurt Wagemann, Executive Director of DECHEMA added: “The implementation of the technologies investigated in this study would allow for a very significant reduction of CO2 emissions of the chemical industry by 2050 even under the least ambitious scenario.”

However, such a transition to carbon neutrality will entail huge challenges for the European chemical industry including availability of low carbon energy, availability of alternative feedstock, investments in new assets that far exceed the typical level of investments in the recent years, uncompetitive production costs. 

The report
The report Low carbon energy and feedstock for the European chemical industry looks into technology options and pathway scenarios to ensure a low-carbon, yet competitive European chemical industry by 2050. The study focuses on the main chemical building blocks used in upstream large volume production processes (ammonia, methanol, ethylene, propylene, chlorine and the aromatics benzene, toluene and xylene), which represent about two-thirds of all GHG emissions in the chemical sector.

Friday, 14 July 2017

European Sustainable Chemicals Support Service Final conference

The European Commission and the European Chemical Regions Network (ECRN) invite you to the final conference of the European Sustainable Chemicals Support Service entitled: 'Boosting regional investments in sustainable chemicals' that is taking place on 14 September in Brussels. The Sustainable Chemicals Support Service initiative was organised by a consortium of Cefic, PNO and CIRCE.

The event aims to present the results of the European Sustainable Chemicals Support Service initiative 'Six Model demonstrator regions for sustainable chemical production', that was funded by the European Commission. It will feature success stories and best practices from the six regions, selected by the European Commission as 'model demonstrator regions' in Europe for a sustainable chemical industry.

The regions are:

  • Andalusia (Spain)
  • Groningen-Drenthe (The Netherlands)
  • Kosice (Slovakia)
  • Scotland (United Kingdom)
  • South and Eastern Ireland
  • Wallonia (Belgium)

The Conference will also present the publicly available self-assessment tool, developed by the initiative, which aims to support all European regions to assess their investment readiness level to produce chemicals in a sustainable manner.

This event is free of charge and will be held in English.

Sustainable chemicals
The aim of the European Sustainable Chemicals Support Service initiative was to encourage investments in sustainable chemicals production in Europe that will contribute to the development of the circular economy, for example by taking advantage of domestically available feedstock such as biomass, waste or CO2.

Cefic and SusChem have been very supportive of collaboration within and between chemical regions based on concepts such as Industrial Symbiosis. This was demonstrated by Cefic-SusChem participation in the Chemical Regions for Resource Efficiency (R4R) FP7 project and expressed in the 2015 SusChem position paper on Circular Economy.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

SusChem F3 Factory shows synergy of EU Funding

The SusChem flagship F3 Factory project was in the spotlight at the European Commission’s Research and Innovation conference on “Shaping our Future” as an example of how to leverage EU research funding with the use of the Structural Funds. This is one of the key recommendations in the report of the High-Level Group led by Pascal Lamy, released at the conference on 3 July, to launch the debate on the next EU Framework Programme, FP9. Entitled ‘LAB – FAB – APP: investing in the European future we want’, the report delivers a strong message that investing in research and innovation is crucial for the future of Europe in a rapidly globalising world.

To shape our future together, we need to imagine, invent and create. We need research (“Labs”), innovation competitive fabrication (“Fabs”) and applications for the benefit of all (“Apps”). Hence the title of the report: Lab, Fab, App: investing in the future we want.

Launching the report European Commissioner for Research and Innovation Carlos Moedas underlined the crucial role of research and innovation for the future by saying: “Without science and innovation there is no growth. Without science and innovation there are no jobs.”

Reacting to the report on behalf of industry, Jean Pierre Clamadieu, CEO of Solvay and President of the Cefic council, told the conference: “Together with Commissioner Moedas, we can imagine a new FP9 that nurtures a European-based research, innovation and science ecosystem linked to industry".

F3 Factory success
The SusChem visionary project ‘The F3 Factory’ was highlighted at the conference by Marc Lemaitre, Director-General the Commission’s DG REGIO, as a success story showing how research and innovation projects can be combined with EU structural and investment funding and thus achieve rationalisation of EU funding schemes. This is one of the key recommendations of the LAB-FAB-APP report, echoed at the conference.

This F3 Factory FP7 initiative showed how it was possible “to leverage all assets in Europe” said Lemaitre (speaking above). The €30 million F3 Factory project, implemented between 2009 and 2013, was conceived and developed by a SusChem working group and looked to create the future of [chemical] production. The project was hugely successful in developing new modular production processes.

The German region of Nordrhein-Westfalen was then able to use money from the EU Regional Development Fund, and through its smart specialisation strategy has been able to form a new project in order to bring the F3 Factory concept closer to commercialisation for pharmaceutical processes.

The MoBiDik project scaled-up and validated the F3 Factory results showing a potential 40% reduction in capital costs and a 30% reduction in energy consumption. The work is continuing through the MoBiDik Pro project funded by Bayer.

Double R&I budget
The LAB-FAB-APP impact report focuses on proposing guiding principles for designing the post-2020 EU programme for research and innovation; provisionally entitled FP9. The 11 recommendations of the report aim to maximise the impact of future EU research and innovation programmes and each is exemplified by a key action.

Amongst the 11 recommendations in the report are proposals to double the budget of the post-2020 EU research and innovation programme, foster ecosystems that will promote and invest in innovative ideas with rapid scale-up potential through a European Innovation Council, and modernise the education and training of people for a creative and innovative Europe. Other actions look to further simplify EU R&I funding schemes and instruments, stimulate the involvement of citizens, and communicate the results and impact of EU R&I funding better.

The high level group that produced the report was led by Pascal Lamy, former European Commissioner and President Emeritus of the Jacques Delors Institut, and comprised 11 eminent personalities from research, innovation and education including Martin Brudermüller, Chief Technology Officer for BASF.

Monday, 10 July 2017

Advancing Entrepreneurship and Start-up Initiatives for Sustainable Chemistry

Are you engaged in a start-up initiative in green and sustainable chemistry? And would you like to share your experience at an international workshop in September 2017 in Berlin? If so a workshop being organised by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Sustainable Chemistry Collaborative Centre (ISC3) on 14 September 2017 will be of interest to you.

On 14 September 2017, UNEP and ISC3 are jointly hosting a workshop to advance entrepreneurship and start-up initiatives for sustainable chemistry. Case studies will be shared and discussed to identify lessons learnt and generate policy relevant knowledge. 

The workshop is being organised back to back with the 150th Anniversary of the German Chemical Society (GDCh) and will bring together a small number of entrepreneurs from developed and developing countries, international organisations and other experts. Entrepreneurs interested in participating in the workshop and presenting their start-up initiatives and lessons learnt should send a brief statement of interest to UNEP by 25 July 2017. 

Selected candidates will present their case study at the workshop. Funding is available to support participants from developing countries. 

UNEP and ISC3 will be looking to support 6-8 young international entrepreneurs engaged in green and sustainable chemistry start-up companies to participate in two back-to-back events taking place in Berlin and seeking to advance a new innovation age for sustainable chemistry.

As well as the case study workshop on 14 September 2017, the other event is a 24-hour ‘Hackathon’ which takes place in the context of the 150th Anniversary of the GDCh on 12-13 September 2017. Selected participants will have the opportunity to participate in and will be sponsored for both events. 

Scaling up sustainability
Global momentum around the concept of sustainable chemistry is growing. In 2016, the concept was recognised for the first time by the United Nations Environment Assembly and work has commenced at the global level to identify best practises. 

As SusChem stakeholders know, an important dimension of sustainable chemistry is to scale up research, innovation and entrepreneurship to develop new and safer chemicals and production processes.

Start-up initiatives and companies can be a strong driver to nurture momentum towards sustainable chemistry, and help close the gap between science, innovation and business application. Yet, while certain sectors, such as the IT sector, are known for a thriving start-up scene, start-up initiatives in area of green and sustainable chemistry are less developed.

One of the topics pursued by the Global Chemicals Outlook-II, mandated by United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) in 2016, is to collect state-of-the-art knowledge and identify determinants which may advance (or impede) innovation to advance sustainable chemistry, including through start-up companies. 

Workshop goals
The overall aim of the workshop is to advance at the international level in scaling up innovation for sustainable chemistry and identify opportunities for action in this area. By bringing together green and sustainable chemistry entrepreneurs from developed and developing countries, together with other relevant experts, the workshop will present and review case studies with the goal to identify lessons learnt and generate policy relevant knowledge. Workshop outcomes will feed into UN Environment’s work on the update of the Global Chemicals Outlook in 2018, and other possible activities at the international level.

The Workshop will bring together approximately 10-15 participants leading (or supporting) sustainable and green chemistry start-up initiatives, including 3-4 entrepreneurs from developed countries (e.g. Europe/North America), 3-4 entrepreneurs from developing countries together with other relevant representatives from the private sectors (e.g. financing institutions), representatives of selected international organisations and selected experts. 

The one-day workshop will cover topics including the context of green and sustainable chemistry, knowledge-sharing about sustainable chemistry start-up initiatives, extracting determinants of success and generating policy insights, and identifying opportunities for further work and follow-up.

More information
The workshop is jointly organised by UN Environment, Economy Division, Chemicals and Health Branch and the International Sustainable Chemistry Collaborative Centre (ISC3) in cooperation with the German Chemical Society (GDCh) and the Freie Universität Berlin. Entrepreneurs interested in participating in the workshop and presenting their start-up initiatives as well as lessons learnt should send a brief statement of interest to UN Environment by 25 July 2017 including a brief description of their start-up initiative and how it contributes to advancing green or sustainable chemistry , together with a brief analysis of the useful lessons learnt in the initiative.

For more information, please contact

Thursday, 6 July 2017

RoadToBio: Guiding the EU Chemical Industry towards the Bioeconomy

How can the chemical industry in Europe meet the challenges of global markets while at the same time becoming more sustainable? RoadToBio is an EU-funded project under Horizon 2020 that aims to pave the way for the European chemical industry to embrace a higher biobased portfolio and more competitive success. Despite considerable efforts over the past few years, the production and application of biobased chemicals is still limited. The roadmap developed in RoadToBio will specify the benefits for the chemical industry of moving from a fossil-based industry towards the bioeconomy to meet the societal needs of 2030.

Today (6 July) the project’s first expert workshop is taking place in Brussels to initiate a discussion on the biobased ‘sweet spots for the chemical industry and develop a list of criteria for biobased products and/ or the shift towards a bioeconomy in the chemical sector from the viewpoint of diverse stakeholders.

The results of the project, a Coordination and Support Action (CSA), first announced in the BBI JU 2016 work programme, will be of critical interest to SusChem stakeholders. The SusChem Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda (SIRA) focuses on a sustainable and inclusive bioeconomy as a priority and the outcomes of the project will inform future revisions of the SusChem SIRA.

The roadmap will also inform future work programmes for the BBI JU and SPIRE PPP, both SusChem inspired initiatives, and where SusChem takes role in coordinating work programmes and identifying synergies.

The roadmap
The roadmap will consist of two main components: an analysis of the most promising opportunities (the ‘sweet spots’) for the chemical industry to increase its biobased portfolio, and a strategy, action plan and engagement guide to overcome the existing and anticipated barriers and hurdles.

The analytical part of the project will take into account feedstock, technologies and markets as well as regulatory issues, societal needs, consumer acceptance and communication. Business cases will be explored that cover new feedstock for the chemical industry, new intermediates for and by the chemical industry, as well as new end-products.

The business cases will be analysed in detail to understand the market potential, the different up- and downstream actors in the value chain as well as the benefits for society based on techno-economic and life cycle assessments.

30% biobased share
The outcomes of the analysis will be used to formulate a strategy, action plan and engagement guide for the chemical industry. They will describe the actions that need to be taken by all stakeholders to achieve the objective of a 30% share of biobased products in the chemical industry by 2030.

To maintain a realistic perspective and gain the support and commitment of the key players, representatives of the European chemical industry and other stakeholders will be involved in the project from the very beginning, providing input and feedback.

This means the roadmap will be developed in consultation with stakeholders, and disseminated to a wide audience. Furthermore, RoadToBio will bring together different parts of the chemical industry, society, and governing bodies in order to start a dialogue and to create a platform where this action plan can unfold to its full potential.

The consortium of this two-year project that started in May 2017 consists of SusChem founding member DECHEMA eV., BTG Biomass Technology Group BV, E4tech (UK) Ltd., and the nova-Institut.

SusChem Brokerage 2017 is on 18 October

The SusChem 2017 Brokerage event which will take place on Wednesday 18 October 2017 in Brussels, Belgium at the Thon Hotel in the EU quarter. Don’t hesitate - register now! Participation in the event is free of charge, but prior registration is compulsory.

As always the SusChem Brokerage event will be the unique opportunity for SusChem stakeholders from industry, academia, SMEs and other sectors to present project ideas, develop consortia and submit funding proposals targeting the 2018 and 2019 calls for Horizon 2020 with deadlines falling in the late 2017 and early 2018.

The Horizon 2020 work programme for 2018-2020 is expected to be officially published in early October, but you can read a Commission document that describes the context for the entire strategic programming process, which will guide the preparation of the work programme itself, here.

During the SusChem brokerage event, you will have the opportunity to:

  • Get detailed views on the Horizon 2020 2018-2019 programme calls focusing on:
    • Advanced Materials Research
    • Process and Biotechnologies, and
    • Raw Materials calls in Societal Challenge 5
  • Present your project ideas to the SusChem stakeholder community
  • Meet consortia looking for partners, and
  • Interact with other stakeholders during the speed dating session.  

Use Grant-It
Delegates are kindly invited to propose their project ideas for the 2018 and 2019 calls of Horizon 2020 on GRANT-IT - your one-stop access to funding opportunities from the European Commission and Regional and National governments in the field of sustainable chemistry.

SusChem members can use GRANT-IT resources for free to search for funding, identify project opportunities, propose project ideas and search for potential project partners.

Submitting your project ideas via GRANT-IT will make it available to the whole SusChem community and allow interested partners to contact you for meeting requests when the brokerage speed dating tool is open.

For additional information and for questions related to accommodation or how to access the venue, please visit the SusChem 2017 Brokerage event registration portal.

Do not miss this opportunity - register now for the SusChem 2017 Brokerage Event! 

Monday, 3 July 2017

Research & Innovation shaping our future: LabFabApp

The European Commission has published today the report from the High Level Group on maximising the impact of EU research and innovation. The group was led by Pascal Lamy and included eminent personalities from research, innovation and education. The report entitled ‘LAB – FAB – APP Investing in the European future we want’ delivers a main message that investing in research and innovation is increasingly crucial for shaping a better European future in a rapidly globalising world. 

Our success depends ever more on the production and conversion of knowledge into innovation. SusChem agrees.

The report was launched by Research and Innovation Commissioner Moedas and Pascal Lamy (below) at the Research & Innovation: Shaping our Future conference in Brussels today (3 July) and focuses on proposing guiding principles for designing a post-2020 EU programme for research and innovation. However, it does not propose priority themes or subjects such as health, energy, security, space or oceans.

The 11 recommendations of the report are addressed to the European institutions, national governments as well as to other stakeholders: companies, universities, research institutes, non-governmental organisations and all others engaged in research and innovation within the EU and beyond.

Citizen science
However the report also reaches out to a wider public. The report states that ‘Our society should increasingly become a living laboratory for innovative solutions to the many challenges we face in Europe – be they economic, environmental or social.’ Through broad-based, impact-focused research and innovation policy and investments, society can turn these challenges into innovation opportunities. This requires action and participation by many, if not all of us.

The report believes that we need to get rid of the notion that research and innovation is not relevant to society. To shape our future together, we need to imagine, invent and create. We need research (“Labs”), innovation (competitive fabrication (“Fabs”) and applications for the benefit of all (“Apps”). Hence the title of the report: ‘Lab, Fab, App: investing in the future we want.’

Commissioner Moedas said: "I am extremely grateful for the work of the independent group chaired by Pascal Lamy. The recommendations put forward are a very solid basis for our reflection on the orientations of the programmes that will succeed Horizon 2020."

Eleven recommendations
The report’s recommendations are aimed at maximising the impact of future EU research and innovation programmes and each is exemplified by a key action.

1. Prioritise research and innovation in EU and national budgets - Action: double the budget of the post-2020 EU research and innovation programme.

2. Build a true EU innovation policy that creates future markets - Action: Foster ecosystems for researchers, innovators, industries and governments; promote and invest in innovative ideas with rapid scale-up potential through a European Innovation Council.

3. Educate for the future and invest in people who will make the change - Action: modernise, reward and resource the education and training of people for a creative and innovative Europe.

4. Design the EU R&I programme for greater impact - Action: make the future programme’s pillars driven by purpose and impact, fine-tune the proposal evaluation system and increase flexibility.

5. Adopt a mission-oriented, impact-focused approach to address global challenges - Action: set research and innovation missions that address global challenges and mobilise researchers, innovators and other stakeholders to realise them.

6. Rationalise the EU funding landscape and achieve synergy with structural funds - Action: cut the number of R&I funding schemes and instruments, make those remaining reinforce each other and make synergy with other programmes work.

7. Simplify further - Action: become the most attractive R&I funder in the world, privileging impact over process.

8. Mobilise and involve citizens - Action: stimulate co-design and co-creation through citizen involvement.

9. Better align EU and national R&I investment - Action: ensure EU and national alignment where it adds value to the EU’s R&I ambitions and missions.

10. Make international R&I cooperation a trademark of EU research and innovation - Action: open up the R&I programme to association by the best and participation by all, based on reciprocal co-funding or access to co-funding in the partner country.

11. Capture and better communicate impact - Action: brand EU research and innovation and ensure wide communication of its results and impacts.

Friday, 30 June 2017

Join the SusChem and WssTP Workshop in Porto!

SusChem and the European Water Technology Platform, WssTP, in collaboration with the EIP Water, are jointly organising a pre-conference workshop ‘Industry Water: From Single Use to Integrated Management' that will take place on the afternoon of Tuesday 26 September 2017 in Porto, Portugal just prior to the The EIP Water Conference.

The workshop builds on an earlier workshop organised in Brussels on 20 April 2017 and will prepare specific messages to deliver to the audiences attending the EIP Water Conference in Porto that takes place on 27 and 28 September 2017.

These messages relate to the reuse of industrial water reuse as highlighted, for example, at the WssTP Water Innovation Europe 2017 event and are built from the four pillars of the WssTP’s Value of Water model: Sensors, Big Data, Analysis and Modelling, and Governance.

Workshop outcomes
The Brussel’s workshop produces a range of recommendations and conclusions on these four aspects:

  • Sensor Networks - Sensor development provides a unique opportunity for enhancing the Value of Water. Advanced sensor development is required to ensure continuous understanding and control of water quality. Handling of dynamic water systems requires advanced sensors. Full implementation, reliable operation costs and maintenance are important.
  • Big Data - Identifying the value of the water system in generating and creating data is central to its economic value. The creation of a resilient basis for cyber security and privacy legislation is necessary, as no holistic overview currently exists. Links between data silos and pockets of data should be established and prioritised.  
  • Modelling and Analysis - Many models for enhancing water management exist in academia or within RTOs. But these methodologies need to be brought into context before moving to the next pilot phase. It is necessary to identify models and tailor them to the requirements of users in order to develop more efficient  water systems, while observing the interactions and implications.   
  • Smart Governance - Smart governance models vary from region to region. The selection process for an appropriate governance design requires extensive consideration. Education and communication is crucial for its successful understanding and implementation.

The Porto workshop will further examine outcomes via four parallel breakout sessions covering the above topics that will include introductory presentations, moderated discussions, collection of ideas, and building of key messages.

The outcomes of the four sessions will be collated and conclusions and key messages for EIP Water conference formulated.

Workshop details
The workshop will take place on Tuesday 26 September 2017 from 14:00 to 18:00 and participation is free of charge, however prior registration is compulsory. You can register for the workshop via this online form.

Please note this registration is valid for the pre-conference workshop only, it will not allow attendance at the EIP Conference itself.

For more information on the workshop, please contact either Andrea Rubini at WssTP or Henk Pool at SusChem.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

#suschem2017 in tweets

We've assembled the story of the SusChem Stakeholder event on June 8 as told through twitter! Enjoy!

Please feel free to share with your colleagues.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Sustainable chemistry: Accelerating innovation and impact in Europe

On 8 June 2017 the European Technology Platform for Sustainable Chemistry (SusChem) held its 15th annual Stakeholder event (#suschem2017) at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Brussels, Belgium. The theme for #suschem2017 was ‘Accelerating innovation and impact in Europe: Shaping expectations and priorities for the next EU Framework Programme (FP9)’. 

A full proceedings document for #suschem2017 and notes from the breakout sessions are now available on the new SusChem website.

#suschem2017 brought together senior players from the chemical and biotechnology industries, academia, research technology organisations (RTOs) and EU institutions to address common challenges and debate priorities crucial to the sustainability of the European chemical and biotechnology innovation sectors.

Sustainable, circular, responsible
In an opening plenary presentation Peter Dröll, Director for Industrial Technologies at the European Commission DG Research and Innovation (below) stated that “Our common future must be sustainable, circular and responsible” - concepts that SusChem and its activities are very much aligned with.

Dröll described some current thinking on aspects of FP9 including the concept of ‘missions’ and called on all attendees to make the collective case for investing more in EU research and innovation in the future - a theme that was repeated by many speakers during the day. In particular, the key to ensuring future funding was demonstrating the societal impact of current funding initiatives for research and innovation.

In his plenary address SusChem Chairman Dr Klaus Sommer stressed the need for a continuing role for industrial leadership in FP9 projects and the need for adequate funding to bridge the innovation ‘valley of death’ and ensure commercialisation. He noted SusChem’s key messages in its contribution to the Horizon 2020 consultation: in particular the value of Public Private Partnerships (PPPs), such as SPIRE and the BBI JU, as instruments to promote competitiveness.

SusChem – a success story
SusChem is a clear success. Sommer stated that “85% of the input on topics found in SusChem’s Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda (SIRA) was now reflected in Horizon 2020 programmes”. This was a significant impact of which all SusChem stakeholders should be proud!

He also highlighted the swift success of the SPIRE PPP, a SusChem inspired initiative, in raising some €750 million of private funding for its projects. He said that “SPIRE is on its way and is already mission driven with a set of clear key performance indicators (KPIs) for Europe.”

Underlying this success is the plain fact that SusChem – and sustainable chemistry in general – is providing the solutions for the challenges that society faces across areas from climate change and energy transition to high performance materials to enable a circular economy and digitisation of the chemical and other process industries.

Breakout sessions
Participants split into three parallel breakout sessions all focused on various aspects of the future FP9 programme. The sessions consisted of short presentations on the topic area and then an interactive session with moderated small groups discussing the topic and providing insights and solutions. The results of the session were shared in an afternoon plenary session.

Breakout Session 1 looked to define success factors for EU funded projects to optimise innovation impact and value for Europe. BreakoutSession 2 examined the role of SMEs as a driver of the EU innovation ecosystems and how we can stimulate market-creating innovation through SME funding. Breakout Session 3 looked at shaping funding instruments to accelerate innovation and competitiveness in Europe.

Panel discussion
In the afternoon SusChem stakeholders received updates from the SusChem NTP network and feedback from three morning workshop sessions on FP9. These had focused on aspects of boosting innovation impact, the role of SMEs and appropriate framework instruments.

The culmination of the FP9 debate was a high-level panel discussion that examined how to accelerate innovation and deliver impact in the forthcoming framework programme. The discussion was moderated by Cefic Executive Director for Research and Innovation Pierre Barthelemy with contributions from the European Commission and key SusChem stakeholders including large industry, small companies, research and technology organisations and PPPs.

Kurt Vandenberghe, Director for Policy Development and Coordination at the European Commission’s DG Research and Innovation, opened the discussion by describing the important role that SusChem and other European technology platforms can play in shaping FP9.  He said that there are calls not to change anything from Horizon 2020 but there is a need to balance change and continuity to maximise impact. For industry Ulrich Küsthardt, SusChem Board Member and CIO at Evonik, insisted that continued public funding for larger companies should continue. The executive director of SPIRE Àngels Orduña explained the added value of PPPs, such as SPIRE, saying that the public-private partnership is able to gather together complete innovation ecosystems, connecting existing systems and networks, increasing the participation of industry both large and small. From the research perspective, Professor Michael Matlosz from the French National Research Agency (ANR) stated that FP9 must maintain the research competitive edge that previous programmes had delivered and that the EU should continue to base its strategies on its strengths. Muriel Attané of EARTO felt that more pilot and demonstration projects would be needed and we should be building a technology infrastructure that would be appropriate for decades to come. Iryna Sukhotska from Spanish SME Biopolis stressed that all sizes of companies are important in the innovation ecosystem and partnerships with large chemical industry are crucial for small companies.

The debate highlighted also the need to preserve the right balance between research and innovation in FP9, as well as the industrial eco system of funding for small and large companies. In particular a clear narrative demonstrating the impact of sustainable chemistry innovation to help citizens and politicians to understand its value to society must be developed – and fast!

FP9 – our mission
From the #suschem2017 discussions it is clear that SusChem needs to think about the concept of missions in FP9: what do we want missions to be and how can we develop our vision for mission targets. We also need to support the success of PPPs in Horizon 2020, such as SPIRE and BBI, and their ability to operate along the whole innovation value chain – an essential element to deliver impact.

FP9 needs to be more inclusive for new member states, but also ensure that successful innovation is the paramount objective to achieve sustainable jobs and growth in Europe. More simplification of procedures in FP9 was desirable, but we need to conserve what was good in Horizon 2020.

Better alignment between EU programmes and national level initiatives is also needed, and funding for industry large and small should be continued to ensure a healthy industrial innovation ecosystem that can deliver new goods and services to the market.

SusChem’s new brand
Earlier in the day the new SusChem branding was presented by the SusChem Communication team who invited delegates to “step into your sustainable future!”. The new branding underlines the message that “We are all SusChem” and that together all stakeholders should stand as strong ambassadors for the SusChem brand.

During the day stakeholders got an in-depth brand experience with visual, taste, auditory, smell and touch elements. In addition other brand experiences included an on-site animator and a wish tree (see below), where stakeholders were encouraged to write down their one main wish for FP9 with one lucky delegate’s wish winning an iWatch in a draw at the end of the day.

Thank you Klaus!
At the end of the day SusChem board Chairman Klaus Sommer (below) received a standing ovation from the delegates after announcing that, due to new responsibilities, he would be standing down from the SusChem board later in the year. Dr Sommer has been a significant figure in SusChem since its formation and he said that it had been wonderful to work with so many committed people and was proud that SusChem had achieved so much. We will miss you Klaus!

To view more of the #suschem2017 photo gallery click here.

Friday, 23 June 2017

BIC Announces New SIRA For Europe’s Bioeconomy

To help build a resource-efficient, circular and bio-based economy, the Biobased Industries Consortium (BIC) has just launched its new Strategic and Research Agenda (SIRA). The SIRA identifies the activities needed to speed up the development of sustainable and competitive biobased industries in Europe – an aim that SusChem wholly supports and has helped to foster for many years.

The SIRA reflects BIC’s ambition to transform Europe into a world leading bioeconomy. The updated SIRA addresses the technological and innovation challenges facing the biobased industries, takes a ‘multi-value-chain’ approach and integrates new feedstocks such as aquatic-based sources, biowaste (including from waste from food processing) and the use of carbon dioxide (CO2). The document also considers the aims of BIC’s newest members, as well as technology and market developments since the first BIC SIRA was adopted in 2013.

The new BIC SIRA identifies the research and innovation actions needed to deliver tangible and increasingly ambitious environmental, social and economic benefits by 2020 and also 2030.
Biobased value chains are at the heart of the SIRA, which is founded on four key pillars:

  • Fostering a supply of sustainable biomass feedstock for both existing and new value chains 
  • Optimising efficient processing for integrated biorefineries through research, development and innovation (R&D&I) 
  • Developing innovative biobased products for identified market applications 
  • Creating and accelerating market uptake of biobased products and applications 

The biobased industries in Europe have been evolving rapidly. Driven by business and consumer demand for greener products and by policy developments such as the European Bioeconomy Strategy and equivalent strategies in Member States, they have started to invest in technological advancements and deployment. They will receive a further boost from the increased efficiency of innovative technologies and their upscaling to commercial levels, and from the new policy focus on the circular economy and decarbonisation that initiatives such as the European circular economy package and COP21 have brought.

Circular bioeconomy
John Bell, Director for Bioeconomy, DG Research & Innovation, European Commission said:
“The latest SIRA is designed to attract new industrial sectors and stimulate closer collaboration between different industries. It envisages the creation of novel value chains, making it easier for the Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU) to fully support the development of a circular bioeconomy, while enabling Europe to achieve its climate goals and the objectives of the Juncker Plan to boost investment, sustainable growth and job creation.”
Mat Quaedvlieg, Vice President Strategic Business Projects at Sappi, and Chair of the BIC and BBI JU Governing Boards said:
“Since the start of the BBI JU, new value chains have emerged using feedstocks from the food processing sector, the aquatic-based sector, and even biowaste and CO2. More and more industrial sectors are collaborating on BBI JU projects, seizing the opportunity to create value from waste and side streams. This growth will speed up the development of an innovative, sustainable and competitive European economy, in line with the European Bioeconomy Strategy.”
Dynamic and sustainable
Dynamic and sustainable biobased industries in Europe can deliver many environmental, economic and social benefits. They can help to meet EU objectives in areas ranging from economic growth, job creation, the circular economy and resource efficiency to climate change mitigation, security, agriculture modernisation and regional development.

Biobased industries make use of European biomass sources and sustainable European supply chains. As such, they lower our dependency on imports and contribute to our raw material security. With 90% of Europe’s chemical industry feedstocks for non-energy use coming from fossil resources, access to alternatives is an important strategic issue. In addition Biobased industries can create opportunities for local regeneration in rural and coastal areas, fostering cooperation between different stakeholders along the value chain.

You can access and download the revised SIRA here.

Biobased Industries Consortium
The Biobased Industries Consortium (BIC) is a non-profit organisation based in Brussels. It represents the private sector in the public-private partnership (PPP) with the EU on Bio-based Industries (BBI). Worth €3.7 billion, the partnership mobilises investment in innovative facilities and processes that manufacture high-quality bio-based products as well as in biorefining research and demonstration projects.

BIC is host to a unique mix of sectors that currently covers agriculture, agro-food, forestry, pulp and paper, chemicals, energy and other manufacturing sectors. With over 200 members including large companies, SMEs, SME Clusters, RTOs, universities, technology platforms and associations spread across Europe, BIC brings together an authoritative pool of cross sector and multi-disciplinary expertise in the field of bio-based industries.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Together for Sustainable Chemistry: The new SusChem website

Today, (15 June 2017), SusChem has publicly launched its new website featuring fresh content and the platform’s distinctive new branding. The SusChem website’s bright and distinctive new visual style emphasises the platform’s values and aspirations, and is designed to help widen its appeal and accessibility. SusChem stakeholders were briefed on the new design at #suschem2017 on 8 June. SusChem was conceived in 2004 to shape one voice on innovation for the European chemical industry and has been very successful in promoting the chemical sciences and biotechnology in European research and innovation programmes for over the past decade.

Triple focus
The new website has a triple focus on SusChem’s policies, its technologies and its initiatives to cater for the diverse audiences that the platform reaches out to.

The primary policy vision driving SusChem’s thinking and initiatives is of a sustainable low-carbon economy in Europe that can avert or adapt to the impacts of significant climate change and support a dynamic innovation and industrial eco-system. Under this overall vision the website focuses on five main policy areas: Competitiveness, the Circular Economy, the Energy Union, the Digital Single Market, and the Bioeconomy.

From a technology perspective SusChem was created to revitalise and inspire European chemistry and industrial biotechnology research, development and innovation in a sustainable way to respond to pressing societal challenges. Its technologies are grouped into three general areas: Advanced materials, Process, and Digital.

In its initiatives section SusChem highlights its robust framework that brings together research, development and innovation actors from academia and industry across Europe providing an open and collaborative space to formulate and implement ideas that address major societal challenges.

Together for sustainability:

“Sustainability and competitiveness are strategic priorities for SusChem,” says Dr. Flavio Benedito, Cefic innovation manager and Secretary of SusChem. “Progress on sustainability, competitiveness and environmental protection are intimately linked; and chemical products and chemistry-driven technological advances provide critical answers to ensure the sustainable development of modern societies. The breakthrough technologies needed to transform our society to a more sustainable future will be enabled through chemistry. This concept of ‘Together for sustainability’ was a key element in the evolution of the new SusChem branding and website.”

The new SusChem branding was developed by DogStudio design and web consultancy based in Namur, Belgium in collaboration with the SusChem communications team.

Esther Agyeman-Budu, Cefic communication manager and leader of the SusChem Communications team said: “Our task in developing the new website and branding was to maintain key visual links with our original artwork concept while modernising it and expressing SusChem’s current values and aspirations as a mature, influential, international and inclusive professional organisation.”

For more information, please visit the new SusChem website or contact the SusChem team directly.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

#suschem2017 in Pictures

The 2017 SusChem Stakeholder event #suschem2017 was  a day full of discussion and debate on the impact of SusChem inspired projects and a look forward to the scope and content of the next European Commission framework programme for research and innovation. SusChem stakeholders also got to experience the new SusChem branding and make their FP9 wish. Here are a selection of images from this highly interactive day.

Thanks to everyone who made #suschem2017 such a success!

#suschem2017 - Sustainable chemistry: Accelerating innovation and impact in Europe

Today, 8 June, 2017, the European Technology Platform for Sustainable Chemistry (SusChem) will be holding its annual Stakeholder event (#suschem2017) in Brussels. The event will bring together global audiences, senior players from the chemical and biotechnology industries, academia, research technology organisations (RTOs) and EU institutions to address common challenges and debate priorities crucial to the sustainability of the European chemical and biotechnology innovation sectors. The theme for #suschem2017 is ‘Accelerating innovation and impact in Europe: Shaping expectations and priorities for the next EU Framework Programme’.

The SusChem Stakeholder event is the platform’s biggest and most influential event and will culminate with a high level debate on how Europe can accelerate innovation and deliver real socio-economic impact through the next European Research Framework Programme (FP9). There will also be updates from SusChem’s network of National Technology Platforms and the launch of new SusChem branding at the event. All participants will get a chance to give input to the proceedings through parallel breakout workshops.
SusChem Chairman Dr. Klaus Sommer said: “Our SusChem 2017 Stakeholder event will provide input on success factors for innovation impact, how to better stimulate SMEs to engage with FP9 and which new instruments might be required in FP9, amongst other topics. This is exactly the role that a European Technology Platform like SusChem should play, continuing our role as thought leaders for sustainable chemistry Research & Innovation in Europe.”
What’s happening?
In the morning, the event will kick off with plenary presentations from Peter Droell, Director at European Commission DG Research and Innovation for Industrial Technologies and Dr. Klaus Sommer, Chairman of the SusChem Board. The SusChem communications team will also present the SusChem rebranding project.

Participants will then split into three parallel breakout workshop sessions. The three breakout session topics are:
  • Defining success factors for EU funded projects to optimise innovation impact and value for Europe. How can we maximise the market uptake and impact of EU funded project results by examining success learnings from projects?
  • SMEs as a driver of the EU innovation ecosystems: How can we stimulate market-creating innovation through SME funding? This breakout session will try to identify the right mechanisms and ways to enhance their engagement in European public funding.  
  • Shaping funding instruments to accelerate innovation and competitiveness in Europe. This breakout session we will examine the strengths and weaknesses of the design and structure of EU innovation funding instruments by sharing experiences with Horizon 2020.
FP9 debate
In the afternoon SusChem stakeholders will receive updates from the SusChem NTP network and feedback from the breakout sessions before a high-level panel discussion will examine how to accelerate innovation and deliver impact in the forthcoming FP9 programme.
“The SusChem platform has made a significant contribution to the formulation, execution, implementation and success of the FP7 and Horizon 2020 European research and innovation programmes. The forthcoming FP9 programme is a great opportunity to ensure that this success continues for the benefit of European industry and society in general. For this it is essential that the outcomes of successful projects are widely implemented to achieve tangible impact.” concludes Sommer.
The panel will be moderated by Cefic Executive Director for Research and Innovation Pierre Barthelemy and features contributions from Prof. Michael Matlosz, President and Chief Executive Officer of the French National Research Agency (ANR), Angels Orduña, the SPIRE PPP Executive Director, Iryna Sukhotska, Head of Public Affairs and R&D Project Management at Biopolis, Ulrich Kuesthardt, SusChem Board Member and CIO at Evonik, Muriel Attané, Secretary General of EARTO and Kurt Vandenberghe, Director for Policy Development and Coordination at DG Research and Innovation.

#suschem2017 takes place at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Brussels, You can access the full programme for the event is available here.

Monday, 29 May 2017

ICIS Innovation Awards 2017

You have just over one month to submit your entry for the ICIS Innovation Awards 2017! The awards were launched in 2004 by European Chemical News and are celebrating their fourteenth anniversary this year. The awards have grown in popularity with each succeeding year and SusChem has been proud to contribute to their judging panels on many occasions. This year SusChem board member Dr Pierre Barthelemy will be part of the judging panel. The awards include categories for company innovations and also recognise high performing individual entries.

Innovation is a key driver for sustainable growth and profitability in the chemical sector. And the ICIS Awards look to recognise and reward the very best in innovation in the chemical industry. Sustainable innovation is at the heart of SusChem’s priorities and the platform is happy to support the awards.

The ICIS Innovation Awards focus on companies and individuals that show high levels of innovation in products and processes, as well as providing benefits to the environment and advancing progress towards sustainability.

The winners will be those companies and individuals that have made significant steps forward in technological and business innovation, with tangible results emerging during 2016 and the early part of this year.

For the second year ICIS is again teaming up with Elsevier’s R&D Solutions as the overall sponsor of the awards and as a partner in the Alpha Innovator of the Year Awards for individual achievement that were launched last year.

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

Pierre (pictured left) is executive director for research and innovation at Cefic, representing the priorities of the chemical industry towards the EU institutions for innovation-related aspects. He joined Solvay in 1988 and was seconded to Cefic in 2014. He has a PhD in chemistry from the University of Liège, Belgium

"I am really pleased to be part of this year's ICIS Innovation awards judging panel," said Pierre. "And am looking forward to seeing some truly innovative and sustainable entries."

Pierre’s fellow members of the 2017 judging panel include Christina Valimaki, senior director, chemicals segment marketing, for Elsevier; Mike Lacey, new product identification manager within the New Product Platform group of Exxon Mobil Chemical; Just Jansz, an independent board member and advisor, and founder and MD of business and technology management consultancy Expertise Beyond Borders; Mike McKenna, COO for Maroon Group, a North American specialty chemical and ingredients distributor; Paul Bjacek, principal director and lead for Accenture’s chemicals and natural resources strategic research; and Peter Nieuwenhuizen, global research, development and innovation director, specialty chemicals, at AkzoNobel.

Which award?
Past ICIS awards winners have included the largest multinational and the smallest ‘micro’ SME – but the common denominator for success has always been the quality of the innovation. This year there are four prize categories for company entries to choose from:

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

An overall winner will be picked from the winners of the four individual categories.

In addition the Alpha Innovator of the Year Awards recognise individual scientists, engineers and other R&D professionals who are unafraid to tackle roadblocks head on, and who are unrelenting in their pursuit of innovation and optimisation as they strive to push the industry forward – not only as an industry but as a society.

Again this year, two individuals will be recognised as Alpha Innovators of the Year – one for their work in the area of product development and/or process optimisation and the other for innovations that help develop and promote environmental performance and sustainability in the chemical industry.

How to enter?
The ICIS Innovation Awards are open to any chemical company or individual, regardless of where they are based.

Having decided the appropriate category or categories you want to enter in either the ICIS Innovation Awards or Alpha Innovator of the Year Awards you then need to complete the relevant online application form that can be found at, upload any supporting documents and click ‘submit’ – that is it! 

The deadline for receipt of entries is 30 June 2017. A confirmation of receipt of your entry will be sent by email.

Winners of an award will receive a free trial to Reaxys, Elsevier’s R&D Solutions’ web-based tool for retrieval of chemistry information and data from published literature, including journals and patents; enjoy extensive editorial coverage in ICIS Chemical Business and ICIS online; be able to build on further publicity both within their company and externally, related to their success in the competition; be invited to an Awards lunch with the other winners, sponsors and judges later in the year; and receive an active Innovation Awards logo to host on their website, promoting their success in the competition.

The deadline for entries is 30 June 2017. A shortlist of successful entries in each category will be published in ICIS Chemical Business in August. Winners will be notified in September, and the announcement of the winners will be made in ICIS Chemical Business in October. Award presentations will be made in early December at a special lunch in a leading London venue.

For more information about the ICIS Chemical Business Innovation Awards view the launch video below or for specific queries contact John Baker at ICIS.