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Sustainable chemistry: Accelerating innovation and impact in Europe

The European Technology Platform for Sustainable Chemistry (SusChem) held its 15th annual Stakeholder event (#suschem2017) on 8 June 2017 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)’.

In an opening plenary presentation Peter Dröll, Director for Industrial Technologies at the European Commission DG Research and Innovation described what is the 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 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:

85% of the input on topics found in SusChem’s Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda (SIRA) is now reflected in Horizon 2020 programmes”. 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.

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 digitalisation of the chemical and other process industries.

Panel discussion on FP9

The SusChem Stakeholder event participants debated on 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 Barthélemy, and contributions from the European Commission and key SusChem stakeholders, such as large industry, small companies, research and technology organisations and public-private partnerships.

The debate highlighted 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.

Missions in FP9

From the #suschem2017 discussions it is clear that SusChem needs to think about the concept of missions in FP9, and 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 is desirable, but conserving 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.

For more information about the Stakeholder event and its main conclusions on FP9, read the full proceedings here.