Around 150 delegates representing large companies, academia and research organisations, and other stakeholders took part in the SusChem 2017 Brokerage Event on 18 October. They received briefings from the European Commission on the forthcoming calls of the Horizon 2020 Programme relevant to SusChem. More than 50 initial project concepts were received and more than 30 of them featured at the event in two dedicated sessions of project pitches and a poster exhibition. SusChem national technology platforms from Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, and UK also took the floor to present ideas from their members. The brokerage and networking afternoon undoubtedly set the basis for the establishment of new collaborative consortia and successful project proposals.
“SusChem is probably the most active European Technology Platform”, said Pierre Barthélemy, Cefic Executive Director for Research & Innovation and SusChem Board Member, at the opening of the event, held in Brussels on 18 October. He also emphasised the role of the platform’s unique constellation of 14 national technology platforms, providing a link between the EU level and national sustainable chemistry initiatives in the Member States and representing their members at the brokerage event.
Insights to the Horizon 2018-2020 work programme
At the start of the event Cefic innovation manager and SusChem secretary Flavio Benedito explained to the participants that Cefic innovation managers have worked through the recently published draft Horizon 2020 work programmes for 2018-2020 and identified the relevant calls regarding SusChem topics, technologies and stakeholder interests, summarising them in a matrix, which is published online.
Three detailed insights on SusChem relevant areas of the draft work programme were given by European Commission representatives.
The information on the Nanotechnologies, Advanced Materials, Advanced Manufacturing and Processing, and Biotechnology (NMBP) Programme and Catalysing the Circular Economy was presented by Helge Wessel. He said that the final work programme is scheduled for publishing around 28 October and it is anticipated that it will be very close to the wording of the publicly available draft programme. In terms of the application process, the deadline for submission of proposals for the 2018 calls would be normally around the end of January or beginning of February 2018 with successful projects commencing before the end of next year.
He articulated the EU’s ambition to make Europe the world-leader in developing sustainable chemistry, smart materials and intelligent recycling to drive the circular economy and highlighted catalysis as a key technology in the chemical industry and for a sustainable economy as a whole. He also emphasised the need to develop substitutes for fossil fuels along all steps in industrial value-chains to achieve low-carbon industrial processes with a focus on the use of CO2 or C1 building blocks as alternative feedstocks for chemicals, materials and fuels.
He focused on three specific calls:
- CE-NMBP-24-2018: Catalytic transformation of hydrocarbons,
- CE-NMBP-26-2018: Smart plastic materials with intrinsic recycling properties by design, and CE-NMBP-25-2019:
- Photocatalytic synthesis
The details about them are given in the Annex to this report.
Next, Carmine Marzano gave a rapid overview of SusChem relevant calls in the Advanced Manufacturing, Systems and Biotechnologies area including a number of SPIRE PPP calls. He emphasised that the “SusChem community was a very important stakeholder for this work programme.”
Marzano covered the following three SPIRE 2018 calls in detail:
- CE-SPIRE-02-2018: Processing of material feedstock using non-conventional energy sources,
- CE-SPIRE-03-2018: Energy and resource flexibility in highly energy intensive industries, and
- CE-SPIRE-10-2018: Efficient recycling processes for plastic containing materials
He then briefly outlined three 2018 calls from the Biotech area:
- BIOTEC-01-2018: Standardisation in Synthetic Biology,
- BIOTEC-03-2018: Synthetic biology to expand diversity of nature's chemical production, and
- CE-BIOTEC-04-2018: New biotechnologies for environmental remediation.
Details of these project calls can be found in the Annex.
Finally, the calls in the Societal Challenge 5 of Horizon 2020 covering Climate Action, Environment, Resource Efficiency and Raw Materials, were presented by Rossella Riggio from Unit I2 (Eco-Innovation) in the Climate Action and Resource Efficiency directorate of DG Research.
She underlined that the overall focus of the work programme is to ensure that “environmental and economic change go hand in hand.” A focus area is ‘Building a low-carbon, climate resilient future’ that operationalised the Paris Agreement on Climate Action. A second focus area is ‘Connecting economic and environmental gains – the Circular Economy’. Both areas supported EU contributions towards achievement of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Two multi-annual calls covered these two areas: "Building a low-carbon, climate resilient future: climate action in support of the Paris Agreement" with a budget for 2018 of EUR 123 million and "Greening the economy in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)" with a budget for 2018 of EUR 219.7 million. Information Days on these areas will take place in Brussels on 8 and 9 November.
She described one call in detail – CE-SC5-01-2018: Methods to remove hazardous substances and contaminants from secondary raw materials – that is presented in the Annex.
Project ideas pitching and brokerage
Two dedicated sessions to project pitches, chaired by Cefic Innovation Manager Henk Pool featured 23 five-minute presentations. Additional project ideas were presented as posters in the networking area.
All presented project ideas presentations including additional concepts not formally presented on the day are published on the SusChem website to facilitate the search for partners and consortia building.
The afternoon was devoted to brokerage and networking activities with delegates meeting in bilateral and multi-lateral formats to discuss project concepts and consortium needs – all facilitated by the SusChem management team.
National Technology Platforms making the link
A key – and unique – feature of the SusChem community is the network of 14 National Technology Platforms. They make the link between the EU level and national sustainable chemistry initiatives and act as an interface with the brokerage activities for their national communities.
A range of pilot facilities for open innovation was presented by Henk Pool on behalf of SusChem Austria. These Innovation Hub facilities were designed to support technical development from early stage to market launch and included a state-of-the-art pilot plant for pharmaceutical developments, a printed sensors pilot line, roll-to-roll production of micro-fluidic devices and a lignocellulosic Biorefinery pilot plant amongst others.
Susanne Coles of SusChem UK introduced UK company interests in the 2018 calls. During the project presentations she emphasised that the UK, despite the ongoing Brexit negotiations, would not be “disappearing from Horizon 2020” and she underlined the UK government’s commitment to underwrite funding for participants in granted projects beyond the UK’s departure from the EU. She presented a range of company interest in the programme ranging from large corporates and Unilever to SMEs and research organisations.
Afterwards she commented: “NTPs are able to represent a range of stakeholders, especially SMEs that find it difficult – due to time and other constraints - to engage with the programme initially.” This is a valuable role and helps to the broaden engagement of the programme as a whole.
Cristina Gonzalez of SusChem Spain agrees. “This type of brokerage event is very important as it allows us to bring the information back to the national level and our stakeholders,” she says. “As a physical event it allows us to engage with potential partners from all over Europe in one place.”
Peter Glavic of SusChem Slovenia thinks that development cycles are speeding up and product lifetimes are shortening, which makes brokerage even more important. “It is important to be present and to be able to provide information to all our members,” he says. “Having all the presentations on the SusChem website important and very useful.” Interest in the forthcoming programme is high in Slovenia, especially for SMEs who have a relatively good participation rate.
Ladislav Novak from the Czech NTP noted that there were many similar ideas being considered and he looked forward to the brokerage “getting people together and matching ideas and skills” with the prospect of some excellent project proposals emerging. He said that “SusChem’s ‘added-value’ was functioning very well at the brokerage” with a good number of highly engaged and involved participants.
Considering the future programme – expectations on missions
Using the ConnexMe application, participants could contribute to a real-time survey on what comes to mind when they hear the word ‘mission’ – a word that is featured in concepts for the next EU Research Framework Programme: FP9.
The image of the word cloud, displayed at the event, is reproduced here and shows that ‘Sustainable, Circular, Economy’ were the three most chosen words – could they be the basis of a SusChem inspired FP9 mission?
SusChem delegates agreed that the 2017 Brokerage event had been one of the most successful held so far. Clearly, delegates are looking forward to developing some interesting projects in response to the final Horizon 2020 calls and are looking ahead to what FP9 will bring.
Annex - Horizon 2020-2018 call details presented at the SusChem 2017 Brokerage Event
Nanotechnologies, Advanced Materials, Advanced Manufacturing and Processing, and Biotechnology (NMBP) Programme and Catalysing the Circular Economy
- CE-NMBP-24-2018: Catalytic transformation of hydrocarbons
This Research and Innovation Action (RIA) at technology readiness level (TRL) 3 to 5 seeks proposals for advanced chemical energy conversion, storage and transportation to enable the EU to develop a low-carbon economy and provide more flexibility for feedstock, in particular the exploitation of natural gas, stranded resources and biogas to produce C2-C4 olefins, C-C coupling and/or C1 chemistry. Projects should feature close integration of catalysts and process design to create process improvements and flexibility and tackle global climate challenges.
A specific feature of this call encourages inclusion of international cooperative partners from the broader European Neighbourhood Policy countries, Iran and Iraq.
The expected impact of the call includes the development of novel catalysts and routes for the valorisation of currently unexploited light hydrocarbons resources that will lead to a reduced dependence on conventional fossil fuel resources (>30% reduction of current use of fossil fuels); improved industrial competitiveness thanks to novel processes with improved energy efficiency and therefore reduced greenhouse gases emissions and lower investment costs (>20%); and scalable catalytic processes that can handle feedstock variability. Individual project funding is envisaged at EUR 5 to 7 million.
CE-NMBP-26-2018: Smart plastic materials with intrinsic recycling properties by design
This RIA is again at TRL 3 to 5 and looks to develop multifunctional materials with smart intrinsic recycling and/or sorting abilities for the circular economy that will help industry to achieve environmental targets and improve competitiveness.
Proposals could include design of new polymer material structures with intrinsic sorting/recycling abilities or smart polymer materials for recycling/re-processing and developments in separation and recycling technologies are also welcomed. Any proposal must demonstrate the actual circular use of the new materials and include a full Life Cycle assessment (LCA) on the material’s production.
The expected impact includes helping to meet the EU's circular economy and environmental targets while demonstrating clear benefits to boost market uptake in the short to medium term; new technologies and business opportunities for the recycling industry across Europe, especially for composites and plastics; the potential to reduce landfill waste volume by > 50 %; and reduce the carbon footprint of products by > 30 %. Individual project funding is envisaged at EUR 4 to 6 million.
CE-NMBP-25-2019: Photocatalytic synthesis
Similarly, this RIA is at TRL 3 to 5 and covers the efficient storage and utilisation of solar energy as chemicals or chemical energy. The call foresees a long term need for highly integrated solutions enabling the carbon-neutral production of high-value chemicals or energy, which will require a systems-catalysis approach that includes engineering aspects such as small-scale and intermittent operation.
Proposals should address the development of cheap materials and processes for the direct photocatalytic conversion of CO2 and H2O into fuels and chemicals, with an overall solar-to-hydrogen efficiency of >20%. The work should improve selectivity and efficiency and improve stability and reduce cost. An important element would be the inclusion of a clear business plan for exploitation and an element of international cooperation was also strongly encouraged. Individual project funding is envisaged at EUR 5 to 7 million.
Advanced Manufacturing, Systems and Biotechnologies
CE-SPIRE-02-2018: Processing of material feedstock using non-conventional energy sources
This Innovation Action (IA) at TRL 4 to 6 is looking for efficient processes utilising non-conventional energy sources, such as microwave or plasma heating, which are compatible with a renewable energy sources. The proposals should encompass energy and resource efficient process intensification technologies, which utilise non-conventional energy sources, are flexible and possibly modular. Consideration of how a process can scale and be replicated will also be important.
Proposals should envisage energy and resource efficiency improvement of 30%, CO2 emission reduction of 40%, reduced operating and capital costs and be able to cope with fluctuating power supplies of ~+/- 30% without losing energy efficiency. Individual project funding is envisaged at EUR 6 to 10 million.
CE-SPIRE-03-2018: Energy and resource flexibility in highly energy intensive industries
An IA at TRL 5 to 7 this call also looks to adapt highly energy intensive industries operations to fluctuating energy supply, and optimise energy streams, heat recovery and raw material flows with variable properties. New technologies that allow flexibility for raw material supply while maintaining quality and including valorisation, re-use and recycling of by-products and waste streams are a focus – all with a clear positive impact on the environment.
Proposals should reduce process costs by at least 10%, improve process efficiency by at least 15% and reduce CO2 emissions by at least 5% and achieve an overall reduction of environmental impact of at least 15% in terms of the main key performance indicators (KPIs). Individual project funding is envisaged at EUR 8 to 12 million.
CE-SPIRE-10-2018: Efficient recycling processes for plastic containing materials
This IA at TRL 5 to 7 looks to develop advanced flexible recycling processes to tackle the huge amount of heterogeneous recyclable plastic waste material, including biobased and composite materials, to produce added value products and new process streams including their integration with relevant value chains.
Proposals should involve processing technologies utilising plastic waste as starting material to produce added value products and chemicals showing a decrease in the use of primary fossil resources of at least 30% and CO2 emissions of 20%. The concept should utilise at least 70% of waste materials of which at least 40% is plastic waste. Individual project funding is envisaged at EUR 6 to 8 million.
Total budget for all three 2018 calls is EUR 97.5 million and the deadline for submission of proposals is 22 February 2018.
BIOTEC-01-2018: Standardisation in Synthetic Biology
This Coordination and Support Action (CSA) looks to bring standardisation into synthetic biology as an essential element for manufacturing and to further strengthen European leadership in biotechnological research and production.
Project proposals should deliver a view on the most urgent standardisation needs, identify scientific research gaps that need filling to accelerate standards-driven biological engineering, and develop a realistic strategy to sustainably support the establishment of standards for synthetic biology in the EU in the medium to long term.
Individual project funding is envisaged at up to EUR 2 million with a single project likely to be funded. The single stage submission process will have a deadline of 22 February 2018.
BIOTEC-03-2018: Synthetic biology to expand diversity of nature's chemical production
This RIA at TRL 3 to 5 looks to inspire the use of engineering tools in biological systems to support the large-scale production of new molecules that expand the options for novel compounds and different applications. Proposals should cover topics such as bioengineering the genome of organisms used in industrial processes to enable synthesis of naturally unavailable and efficient pathways to produce new complex and high value-added chemicals. The use of emerging synthetic biology techniques in combination with synthetic chemistry, enzyme engineering, systems biology and bioinformatics is encouraged.
Projects should elucidate new approaches to produce complex chemicals including validation to produce at least two new compounds currently not available by conventional chemistry including an assessment of the related environmental benefits and risks.
Individual project funding is envisaged at EUR 6 to 8 million. Total funding available for the call is EUR 30 million and a two-stage submission process will have a first stage deadline on 23 January 2018 with the second stage closing on 28 June.
CE-BIOTEC-04-2018: New biotechnologies for environmental remediation
This RIA at TRL 3 to 5 calls for ideas to develop improved bioremediation technologies that overcome current limitations. The emphasis is on efficient and low-cost remediation strategies with mixed microbial communities as part of systems that require minimum or zero external energy or chemical inputs. Any proposal must be able to deal with remediation of complex mixtures, including hydrocarbons and their derivatives, metals, nutrients, antibiotics and/or micropollutants and accelerate remediation times compared to current approaches.
Projects must show effective remediation of at least two toxic compounds and demonstrate feasibility of scaling up and benefits over standard physicochemical remediation approaches. The topic is part of the EU-China flagship initiative on Biotechnology for Environment and Human Health and individual project funding is envisaged at around EUR 5 million. Total call funding is EUR 10 million and a single stage submission process will close on 25 April 2018.
Climate Action, Environment, Resource Efficiency and Raw Materials
CE-SC5-01-2018: Methods to remove hazardous substances and contaminants from secondary raw materials
This RIA at TRL 5 to 6 is asking for proposals to boost the uptake and recyclability of secondary raw materials through the develop of innovative and economically feasible solutions for removing undesirable substances from secondary raw materials, including those that might post risks to human health and/ or the environment, and thereby boost the quality of the secondary raw materials. The proposals will also need to address the safe utilisation or disposal of the removed substances.
The solutions should increase the purity or quality of the secondary raw materials, increase recycling rates and reduce landfill and incineration volumes. From a policy viewpoint the projects should work to drive forward the EU Circular Economy Action Plan, the Strategy on Plastics in the Circular Economy, help implement the SPIRE Roadmap, and work towards a non-toxic environment.
Individual project funding is envisaged at EUR 3 to 5 million and SME participation is strongly encouraged. Total funding available for the call is EUR 34 million and a two-stage submission process will have a first stage deadline on 27 February 2018 with the second stage closing on 4 September.