Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Intellectual Property issues? Help is at hand!

Knowing how to manage and exploit Intellectual Property (IP) is one of the keys to boosting innovation and competitiveness in Europe. The European IPR Helpdesk is funded by the European Commission to increase awareness on IP, and support SMEs involved in transnational partnership agreements and EU-funded project beneficiaries in their IP related issues through a range of free-of-charge services including a Helpline, training events and publications.

The European IPR Helpdesk is a service initiative funded by the European Commission offering information, individual support and training in the field of Intellectual Property (IP). The service is targeted at researchers and European small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) participating in EU-funded collaborative research projects. In addition it addresses SMEs involved in international business and technology transfer processes.

Whether you need personal support on a specific IP issue, want to be informed about the latest developments in the world of IP and Innovation in Europe, or are interested in a training session on IP – the European IPR Helpdesk is the right partner to turn to.

IPR Services
At a glance, the European IPR Helpdesk provides the following services – and all of them are offered free of charge:
Want to know more about the EU IPR Helpdesk? Please visit the IPR Helpdesk website and get in touch!

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Re-finding Industry’s role in FP9, KETs and PPPs

At the EU Industry Days event on 23 February 2018 European Commissioner Carlos Moedas (right) launched the conference report ‘Re-Finding Industry’ from the High-Level Strategy Group on Industrial Technologies. His speech outlined the  Group's preliminary findings on Key Enabling Technologies (KETs) strategy, their role in a future emboldened European innovation landscape, and showed close alignment with SusChem thinking on KETs, PPPs and the forthcoming European Research and Innovation framework programme FP9.

Commissioner Moedas described three interrelated drivers of a new momentum for innovation in Europe:
  • Science to develop the new ideas and technologies of the future
  • Start-ups and SMEs to develop the breakthrough innovations, combining technologies and new business models, and 
  • Industry to scale up innovations and create economic and social impact.
All three components required support for success and he highlighted industry’s significant involvement in Horizon 2020 that represented an investment of over EUR 20 billion directly in industry.

“Nine out of ten of the collaborative projects [in Horizon 2020] include at least one private sector partner,” he said. “And there are two particular ways we work with industry: the so-called PPPs and the KETs.”

The Commissioner also sees the Public Private Partnerships (PPPs), such as SusChem and the SusChem inspired programmes under SPIRE and BBI JU, as great successes that need to be taken forward incorporating learning from the experience in Horizon 2020.

He stated a need to simplify the array of different public-private instruments and make them more open both to new participants and new funders such as Member States and private foundations. He also saw the need for PPPs to be more flexible and able to adapt to both current and future needs.

SusChem has a long tradition of working closely with Member States through its network of National Technology Platforms and the recent PHEONIX initiative for CO2 valorisation includes three Members States working with the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic) to develop and implement Carbon Capture and Utilisation (CCU/ #useCO2) technologies.

Commissioner Moedas sees KETs as another essential building blocks for innovation success. “With them, we have the power to create products that place us at the forefront of an advanced economy,” he said. “And they underpin our global leadership in so many of our industries. Their importance cannot be understated.”

He thanked the High-Level Strategy Group on Industrial Technologies, chaired by Jürgen Rüttgers, for their preliminary report ‘Re-finding Industry’ that advises the simplification and merger of some of the existing KETs and two new KET topics: artificial intelligence, and security and connectivity.

The group has been tasked to review the European strategy on KETs and to recommend how to best place them in the forthcoming mission-oriented research and innovation programme. The group's final report is expected to be published in April 2018.

The report states that Europe’s competitiveness lies in its capacity to create balanced, cohesive, well educated, healthy and protected societies. In this context, KETs must contribute to improving peoples’ lives, fighting poverty and correcting inequalities and, therefore, a new, broader definition for KETs is suggested based on four criteria: impact, relevance, key capacity, and enabling power.

In addition to the two new topics, four of the six KETs are recommended to be merged into two broader categories (materials and nanotechnology, photonics and micro and nano-electronics) and the KET ‘biotechnology’ topic should be broadened to ‘Life Sciences technologies’.
The report also investigates the potential links between KETs and mission-orientated research (see above) as advocated as a core element of FP9 and identifies 14 possible mission topics including ‘Industry renewal’, ‘Circular economy – shift to de-production and re-production’, ‘Carbon re-use - from climate killer to industry asset’, and ‘Bio manufacturing – bringing life to manufacturing’ all of potential interest to SusChem stakeholders.

SusChem view
The HLG report broadly corresponds with SusChem thinking on KETs.

SusChem outlined its position on KETs in a recent paper. The document describes what can be achieved by KETs and details the major technology developments and initiatives needed to:
  • Create Advanced Materials for use in energy efficiency, renewable electricity production and energy storage, or smart functionalities responding to stimuli
  • Develop Advanced Process Technologies, including Industrial Biotechnology, for more sustainable production including through utilisation of alternative carbon feedstock and alternative energy sources.
  • Leverage Digital Technologies for use in advanced process control and materials modelling, to enable disruptive business models and to create new customer experiences.
The paper calls for on the European Commission to ensure strong support for KETs in the next Framework Funding Programme. You can read the full SusChem position paper here.

Monday, 26 February 2018

Are you Mission-orientated?

The new report ‘Mission-orientated Research & Innovation in the European Union – A problem-solving approach to fuel innovation-led growth’ is the result of an invitation from Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, to Professor Mariana Mazzucato of University College London to draw up strategic recommendations to maximise the impact of the future EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation through mission-oriented policy. The Commission is calling for feedback on the report, including suggestions for possible EU research and innovation missions. The chemical industry has already described three potential FP9 missions.

The report, which was published on 23 February, is the result of Professor Mazzucato’s reflections based on her research, with inputs through a consultation process with internal and external stakeholders of the European Commission. It seeks to find a way to direct innovation to solve the pressing global challenges of our time and bring together the triple objectives of smart innovation-led growth, inclusion and sustainability.

On receiving the report Commissioner Moedas said: "Mariana Mazzucato provides the Commission with a valuable vision at a crucial point in the drafting of the next EU research and innovation programme. Her report provides clear insight in how research and innovation missions can create impact with societal relevance and how to design and implement such missions. I believe this will be another important step in the evolution of how we invest in research and innovation at the European level.”

Mission opportunity
Missions could provide a massive opportunity to increase the impact of European research and innovation, grasp the public imagination and make real progress on complex challenges. The report is designed to assist policy makers in designing and implementing the European missions of the future, as well as nurture a new belief amongst EU citizens about what real collaboration across Europe can achieve.

On the launch of the report Professor Mazzucato said: "Innovation has both a rate and a direction. Missions provide a way to harness and direct the power of research and innovation, not only to stimulate economic activity and growth, but also to find innovative solutions to the most pressing challenges of our time. I hope that my input will be a valuable resource, so Europe can take a bold and visionary step forward.”

The report introduces the concept of missions in research and innovation, some criteria for mission selection, how missions could be implemented, their ability to engage with the public and describes three example missions: ‘100 Carbon Neutral Cities by 2030’, ‘A Plastic-Free Ocean’, and ‘Decreasing the Burden of Dementia’.

Five key criteria
The report recommends five key criteria for the selection of missions at EU level. Missions must:

  • Be bold and inspirational, with wide societal relevance
  • Be ambitious, but with realistic research & innovation actions
  • Foster cross-disciplinary, cross-sectoral and cross-actor innovation
  • Set a clear direction: targeted, measureable and time-bound
  • Require multiple, bottom-up solutions

In the report’s conclusions, Professor Mazzucato highlights Europe’s major strengths, not least among them our research and innovation system, and stresses the opportunity that the forthcoming FP9 programme offers the prospect to turn the societal challenges that we currently face into opportunities for change, for new forms of interactions, and for revived innovation-led growth.

For her, the key insight of the report is that missions are both a means of setting economic growth in the direction of where we want to be as a society and a vehicle we can use to get there.

Chemical missions
Building up on its positive experience in Horizon 2020 and its position as a front-runner in research and innovation, the European chemical industry has already put forward three ideas for missions to be included in FP9.

  • Low Carbon Industries to lead the societal transformation to a carbon neutral economy by reducing carbon footprints (negative impact factors) and increasing carbon handprints (positive impact factors),
  • Materials Up & Recycling that promotes a change of mind-set for industry and consumers, enhance eco-design, re-use and recycle leading to the elimination of waste in the long run,
  • Affordable and abundant low carbon energy for all providing a structural change towards use of renewable energy sources requiring breakthrough innovation in terms of technology, materials and business models to resolve variability and to match supply and demand.

Mission feedback sought
The Commission is calling on the public and research and innovation stakeholders for feedback on the report, including suggestions for possible EU research and innovation missions. The call for feedback can be accessed here.

INSPIREWATER: Making Every Drop Count

The SPIRE Horizon 2020 project INSPIREWATER is working to enable process industry companies to implement sustainable water treatment solutions as part of a corporate sustainability strategy. This will be achieved via the development, demonstration and exploitation of innovative, eco-efficient technologies that support sustainable water resources management. The overall goal of the project is to reduce wastewater so that there is zero discharge into the environment and to re-use the treated wastewater.

While 70 % of the earth’s surface is covered in water, less than 1 % is freshwater available for use.  With growing pressures on this finite natural resource, there’s a critical need for more innovative water management solutions.

Water is one of SusChem's innovation priority areas and the platform supports industry involvement in a portfolio of EU funded projects working to improve water and wastewater management including those managed by SPIRE as an entity nurtured and established through SusChem actions. 

In Tarragona, Spain, a region that’s faced a critical water shortage, chemical company Clariant is part of an innovative project to test out sustainable wastewater solutions that can eventually be applied to sectors across the globe. The INSPIREWATER (Innovative Solutions in the Process Industry for next generation Resource Efficient Water management) project brings together eleven industrial and scientific partners working in sectors such as steel and paper. Their goal for 2025 is to reduce current freshwater consumption by 35 % and wastewater emissions by 40 %.

INSPIREWATER technologies aim to increase water and resource efficiency by 20-30 % across the process industry. The project will focus initially on the steel and chemical industries, with the long-term goal of applying the technologies throughout process industry sectors for maximum impact.

The project includes partners representing the steel and chemical industries, technology and innovation SME’s, research organisations and dissemination and exploitation experts. The collaboration of these partners forms an exceptional team to deliver quality innovation and striking impact in the process industry. The emphasis on deployment and impact within the project reflects the target set by SPIRE's research and innovation strategy, the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) on ‘Water’ and the EU Commission’s Roadmap on Resource efficiency. In addition, the project will implement European directives and policies in Water Management.

New Tech in an Ancient Port
In recent years, the ancient port city of Tarragona and its surrounding province have dealt with water scarcity issues due to declining summer rainfalls and increased water demand from industry and tourism. The region is also home to a cluster of chemical companies including Clariant’s speciality chemicals facility.

As the representative of the chemical industry within INSPIREWATER, Clariant’s Tarragona site is testing out an innovative multi-membrane technology for waste water treatment demonstrated as an “end-of-pipe” solution, which filters contaminants from water before it can be recycled or reintroduced into the environment. Under current methods, wastewater is purified using “reverse osmosis,” a process that requires hydraulic pressure and energy inputs. The multi-membrane technology currently being tested combines the standard osmosis process with a variety of energy-efficient technologies, so that wastewater can more efficiently pass through membranes to be purified.

Other technologies being piloted by INSPIREWATER will help conserve water across the production life cycle. The end goal is to reduce wastewater so that there is zero discharge into the environment and to re-use the treated wastewater. “To Clariant, the best wastewater is wastewater that barely exists,” says Friedhelm Zorn, Head of Competence Centre Environmental Technologies at Clariant.

Catalyst technology

Within the INSPIREWATER project there are three innovative technologies for sustainable water treatment being developed and tested. One is catalyst technology being developed by MOL Katalysatortechnik GmbH.

The MOL®LIK Catalyst reduces chemical dosage, minimises maintenance, optimises energy demand and saves money. The technology is being evaluated as part of the large-scale demonstration at Clariant.

Thursday, 22 February 2018

The PHOENIX Initiative rises!

Today (22 February 2018) PHEONIX, a European initiative linking national and European Research, Development and Innovation (RD&I) activities on CO2 valorisation, was launched at the EU INDUSTRY Days 2018 in Brussels. The initiative is a collaborative effort supported by EU Member States (France, Germany and the Netherlands) and the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic). PHOENIX will function as an umbrella organisation linking RD&I efforts in this area to ensure an optimal use of public funding and private investment. PHOENIX will interact with all relevant stakeholders from industry through research institutions to national governments and the European Commission.

The PHEONIX initiative was launched at a dedicated workshop at the EU INDUSTRY Days 2018. The workshop was opened by Jürgen Tiedje from European Commission DG Research & Innovation. Dr. Helmut Löwe of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) gave an overview of the objectives of the PHOENIX Initiative and the coming steps. The launch was supported by five short talks from industry speakers providing case studies from all core countries of the initiative and application fields of CO2valorisation.

The talks covered mineralisation of CO2 in the cement industry, biological valorisation of CO2, CO2 for energy storage, CO2 to chemicals, and cross-sectorial approaches.

Finally, a lively panel discussion, moderated by Dr. Pierre Barthélemy involving members of the European Commission, the Phoenix initiative and representatives of the various industry sectors concluded the successful launch event.

What is PHEONIX about?
PHOENIX’s ambition is to build the future of CO2 valorisation on a European scale, collaborating across national borders. PHOENIX will strive for joint progress, while recognising that policies will vary from country to country or region to region. In striving for progress, PHOENIX will make optimal use of national, regional and European instruments to achieve significant CO2 valorisation in and from Europe.

The technical scope of the PHOENIX initiative includes five elements that can contribute to a more sustainable production of chemicals, materials, fuels, biomass and can provide means to store renewable energy. Cost-competitive access to CO2 is a cross-cutting element (see below).

Why CO2 valorisation? 
Carbon is a crucial part of a wide variety of products – from food to materials – that are all essential to society. Alternative carbon sources and production pathways need to be considered for more sustainable production in and from Europe. CO2 sources are abundant and available in Europe. Recycling carbon from CO2 for a more sustainable production of chemicals, materials, fuels and biomass needs to be part of our European strategy towards CO2 emission reduction in a future circular economy.

CO2 valorisation can be beneficial for multiple sectors including, chemicals, cement, steel, transport, renewable electricity and horticulture. It can also contribute to Europe’s industrial leadership in clean technologies, stimulate growth and pave the way to a more circular low carbon economy.

The right policy framework
Coherence between the various policies (energy, circular economy, innovation, industry) is essential to enable innovative technologies developed in Europe to contribute fully to a sustainable European economy and address climate protection and resource efficiency issues. This is as true for PHEONIX as any other large-scale innovation initiative.

Policy coherence in content and timing, as well as policy stability over time, is essential to establish a regulatory framework that enables investment in sustainable innovative CO2 valorisation technologies. Uncertainty and extended timelines for policy decisions have negative consequences on the confidence of private and public investments in these new clean technologies. An appropriate, coherent and supportive regulatory framework is an essential element to ensure continuing European leadership towards a low carbon economy including circular concepts.

How can I get involved?
Additional Member States and Horizon 2020 associated countries are invited to join the initiative and interested industry stakeholders are requested join in contributing to the design of PHOENIX as a powerful initiative to support the deployment CO2 valorisation in and from Europe.

For more information, visit the PHEONIX Initiative website.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

EU Industry and RTOs declare Competitiveness as key priority for FP9

In a joint declaration issued today (21 February 2018) key European industrial research and innovation stakeholders, including CEFIC, call on the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union to develop the next EU Research & Innovation Framework Programme (FP9) with an appropriate design and budget that meets the ambitions of the Renewed EU Industrial Policy Strategy.

This second joint declaration by the 25 stakeholders highlights the crucial role of Research, Development and Innovation (RD&I) activities to support and boost industrial leadership that is at the heart of the renewed European Industrial Policy Strategy.

Europe’s future competitiveness and the sustainability of the European social model largely depend on RD&I with two-thirds of economic growth in Europe deriving from RD&I activities and RD&I investments are the key drivers of the technological developments that deliver many impactful innovations for society. However, RD&I intensity is much lower in Europe than in other countries like the US, China, Japan or South Korea. Reaching the EU’s objective of 3% GDP expenditure on R&D will require strong additional spending states the declaration.

Previous declaration
In a previous joint declaration, the stakeholders had called on FP9 to prioritise support to industrial competitiveness from the start to fulfil European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s wish to “make our industry stronger and more competitive” and “help our industries stay or become the world leader in innovation” as stated in his Annual State of the Union speech in September 2017.

This requires an ambitious strategy, taking full advantage of current research successes, understanding emerging risks and opportunities, considering the wider international industrial landscape, and focusing on European added value.

Competitiveness boost
The stakeholders believe that to boost competitiveness by increasing our productivity, the EU needs to anticipate developments in other global regions in key technology areas that form the basis of our society’s future products and services. Accordingly, FP9 design should reflect such priorities and aim to:
  • Maximise the impact of the EU funded RD&I for society, building on Horizon 2020’s efforts.
  • Strengthen European Industries’ capacities to further absorb and scale up novel technologies matured into new products and services and apply them in addressing global challenges. 
  • Strengthen Europe’s capabilities to keep on top of the “innovation race” with third countries to safeguard Europe’s economic growth and employment. 
  • Support European cross-border industry-driven collaborative RD&I in particular the role of public-private partnerships (cPPPs and JTIs) in leveraging private sector investments.
You can read the full declaration here.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

SusChem publishes views on Key Enabling Technologies (KETs) in FP9

In preparation for the next Research and Innovation (R&I) Framework Programme (FP9), the European Technology Platform for Sustainable Chemistry (SusChem) has today (19 February 2018), publishes a new paper outlining its position on what can be achieved by Key Enabling Technologies (KETs).

The paper 'Key Enabling Technologies in FP9' calls for strong support for EU future technology competitiveness and details the major technology developments and initiatives needed to:

  • Create Advanced Materials for use in energy efficiency (e.g., light weight), renewable electricity production and energy storage (e.g., batteries elements), or smart functionalities responding to stimuli (e.g., self repair).
  • Develop Advanced Process Technologies, including Industrial Biotechnology, for more sustainable production including through utilisation of alternative carbon feedstock (waste, biomass, CO2) and alternative energy sources.
  • Leverage Digital Technologies for use in advanced process control and materials modelling, to enable disruptive business models and to create new customer experiences.

The paper calls for on the European Commission to ensure strong support for KETs in the next Framework Funding Programme. You can download and read the paper here.