SusChem is the European Technology Platform for Sustainable Chemistry. It is a forum that brings together industry, academia, policy makers and the wider society. SusChem’s vision is for a competitive and innovative Europe where sustainable chemistry and biotechnology together provide solutions for future generations. SusChem’s mission is to initiate and inspire European chemical and biochemical innovation to respond effectively to societal’s challenges by providing sustainable solutions. SusChem was officially launched in 2004 as a European Commission supported initiative to revitalise and inspire European chemistry and industrial biotechnology research, development and innovation in a sustainable way.
At SusChem we believe that sustainable chemistry can inspire a change of pace and the new mind-set that society needs in order to become(more) sustainable, smart and inclusive.
In partnership with European and national public authorities, SusChem contributes to initiatives that aim to provide sustainable solutions to society’s big challenges. Together we develop and lead large-scale, integrated research and innovation programmes with chemical sciences at their core. These public private initiatives link research and partners along the value chain to real world markets through accelerated innovations.
SusChem is also a network of national platforms as the European vision needs to be firmly rooted in the national strategies.
SusChem depends vitally on the partnerships with member states to provide information on national strategies and priorities. The national platforms work on initiatives within their own countries and also in joint NTP initiatives through the network organisation.
- SusChem is the European Technology Platform for Sustainable Chemistry. It is a forum that brings together industry, academia, governmental policy groups and the wider society.
- SusChem’s mission is to initiate and inspire European chemical and biochemical innovation to respond effectively to society’s challenges by providing sustainable solutions.
- SusChem’s vision is for a competitive and innovative Europe where sustainable chemistry and biotechnology together provide solutions for future generations.
- SusChem’s priority areas, led by industries, include Resource and Energy Efficiency, Water, Raw Materials, Smart Cities, Enabling Technologies and Education.
What is Sustainable Chemistry?
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) defines sustainable chemistry as:
- 'Sustainable chemistry … seeks to improve the efficiency with which natural resources are used to meet human needs for chemical products and services. Sustainable chemistry encompasses the design, manufacture and use of efficient, effective, safe and more environmentally benign chemical products and processes.
- Sustainable chemistry … stimulates innovation across all sectors to design and discover new chemicals, production processes, and product stewardship practices that will provide increased performance and increased value while meeting the goals of protecting and enhancing human health and the environment.”
- Essentially sustainable chemistry is about doing more with less: reducing the environmental impact of processes and products, optimizing the use of finite resources and minimizing waste.
- Sustainable chemistry can ensure eco-efficiency in everything we do, both individually and as a society. Sustainable chemistry also means protecting and extending employment, expertise and quality of life. It provides a sustainable basis for the innovation needed to stimulate a competitive, knowledge-based, enterprise-led economy across Europe.
- But solutions provided by sustainable chemistry must also be acceptable to society: they must be trusted and designed according to what society wants and needs and they must be economically sound.
- In practice, it means that SusChem projects and programmes should address clear societal needs, be environmentally sound and economically viable.
- Sustainability and competitiveness are strategic priorities for SusChem. Progress on sustainability, competitiveness and environment protection are intimately linked; chemical products and chemistry-driven technological advances provide critical answers and ensure the sustainable development of modern societies.
- The chemical industry, being a critical element of most value chains and supplying its products to all sectors of the economy, is at the forefront of the transition to a more sustainable development; the move towards increased sustainability requires developments that entail the knowledge and competences present in the European chemical sector and within its networks.
Chemistry for a sustainable future
- Sustainable chemistry has a huge part to play in solving society’s current and future challenges. These challenges include meeting future energy needs, reducing our energy and water consumption and emissions, favoring a circular economy (recycling, waste management, making best use of essential raw materials or finding substitutes, helping our urban areas to be better places to live.
- These efforts are supported by enabling technologies, falling in three main categories in the Chemical Industry: Industrial Biotechnologies, Reaction and Process Design and Materials Technologies.
- SusChem believes that sustainable chemistry can help inspire the change of pace and mindset that is needed to make the vision of a sustainable, smart and inclusive society a reality.
Since its launch in 2004 SusChem has established chemistry and sustainability as central components of the European Union’s knowledge base.
Sustainable chemistry innovation contributes significantly to innovation, competitiveness, jobs and growth in Europe.
SusChem’s direct input to European Commission research and innovation programmes has inspired projects worth well over one billion Euros. These projects include flagships like the F3 Factory and other EU-financed research and innovation projects such as BIO-TIC, R4R, E4Water and CRM_InnoNet. They have delivered policies and innovation roadmaps that have inspired further research and innovation activities addressing a range of societal challenges.
SusChem has played a hugely significant role in developing, implementing and coordinating the activities of two multi-billion Euro Public-Private Research and Innovation Partnerships: the Sustainable Process Industry through Resource and Energy Efficiency (SPIRE) and the Biobased Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU).
SusChem has made a significant contribution to EU policy development, including but not limited to: the Key Enabling Technologies initiative and important European Innovation Partnerships such as Critical Raw Materials, Water, Smart-Cities and Communities.
As well as inspiring new research and innovation projects SusChembrings academia and industry together. SusChem gets industry involved in European research projects and makes the case for European collaboration.
In addition to its work at European level, SusChem has established a network of national technology platforms that ensure that sustainable chemistry concepts also play an appropriate role in national research and innovation agendas.
Europe is at a crossroads, we need transformational actions to boost competitiveness, jobs and inclusive growth.
At the same time, we need to deal with the consequences of climate change and resource depletion that affect European society in far-reaching ways.
These challenges can only be tackled by placing sustainability at the heart of all solutions, and sustainable chemistry has a central role to play. We need technological breakthroughs if we want to:
- significantly cut emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants;
- develop sustainable and renewable energy sources;
- find alternatives to scarce raw materials,
- embrace the concept of a circular economy and increase our recycling and reuse of waste;
- ensure the quality of our water supplies
- improve our quality of life without compromising that of future generations.
Sustainable innovation – our priority for a low-carbon economy
Chemistry is a central science at the core of all value-chains. The world leading European chemical sector is a critical driver of innovation and sustainable development.
Guided by its vision and in consultation with its stakeholders and European Commission partners, SusChem sets innovation priorities for the chemical sector and outlines a portfolio of sustainable chemistry research and innovation actions that can provide sustainable solutions to Europe’s big challenges and help the transition to a sustainable low-carbon economy.
In 2015, SusChem updated its innovation priorities actions in its updated Strategic Innovation and Research agenda. They are centered around five of the seven key societal challenges described in the EC’s Horizon 2020 programme and highlight the sustainable chemistry and industrial biotechnologies solutions needed to address these five challenges, while preserving the sector’s industrial competitiveness.
In 2016, the Board approved a set of specific working priorities where SusChem’s community is in a position to lead and foster large-scale innovation initiatives that can provide these much needed solutions, and help our transition to a sustainable low-carbon economy.
A transformational agenda is needed to help Europe speed up its innovation processes and move towards a sustainable low-carbon economy. European Innovation Partnerships (EIPs) based on the Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) model are part of this new thinking and have been designed to tackle the challenges faced by European society: need for raw materials, a viable bioeconomy, water efficiency, resource and energy efficiency, smart cities, agricultural sustainability, and active and healthy ageing.
As SusChem’s vision and mission underline, we believe that sustainable chemistry has a huge part to play in solving society’s current and future challenges.
In particular, innovation from the chemical sector will be essential to achieve the transition to a sustainable low-carbon economy.
These challenges are reflected in our policy issues and include meeting future energy needs, reducing our energy and water consumption and emissions, favouring a circular economy including supporting a dynamic bioeconomy, efficient waste management, making best use of essential raw materials or finding substitutes, and helping our urban areas to be better places to live. And all the time ensuring that these efforts are supported by SusChem’s enabling technologies that fall in three main categories in the Chemical Industry: advanced materials, digital and process.
Within these SusChem is currently focusing on five innovation working priorities: catalysis, information and communication technologies (ICT), materials for energy, a sustainable bioeconomy, and water.
SusChem addresses challenges that are specific to Research and Innovation in the European chemical and industrial biotechnology industries. It favours a value-chain approach fully coordinated with other industry sectors and European Technology Platforms (ETPs) and focused on addressing the societal challenges expressed through the European Union’s Innovation Union and in Horizon2020.
Essentially, sustainable chemistry is about doing more with less: reducing the environmental impact of processes and products, optimising the use of finite resources and minimising waste.
Sustainable chemistry can ensure optimum eco-efficiency in everything we do, both individually and as a society. Sustainable chemistry also means protecting and extending employment, expertise and quality of life. It provides a sustainable basis for the innovation needed to stimulate a competitive, knowledge-based, enterprise-led economy across Europe.
But the solutions provided by sustainable chemistry must also be acceptable to society: they must be trusted and relevant to society’s requirements and they must be economically sustainable too.
In practice, this means that SusChem projects and programmes must address clear societal needs, be environmentally sound and economically viable.
Sustainability and competitiveness are strategic priorities for SusChem and they tie in with environmental protection. Chemical products and chemistry-driven technological advances can support the sustainable development of society.
The chemical industry is a critical actor of almost all value chains and supplies products to all sectors of the economy; therefore it must be at the forefront of the transition to a more sustainable, low-carbon economy.
European Technology Platforms (ETPs) are industry-led stakeholder organisations that develop long-term research and innovation agendas for implementation at European and national level.
They mobilise stakeholders to deliver on agreed priorities and share information across the EU. The first ETPs were established in 2003, supported by the European Commission. Today ETPs are independent and self-financing entities that conduct their activities in an open and transparent manner.
ETPs help deliver solutions to major challenges of key concerns such as an ageing society, the environment, food and energy security, and the transition to a low-carbon economy.
Building on the strategies for Europe2020 and Innovation Union, the European Commission's current research and innovation framework programme, Horizon2020, recognises the role of ETPs as part of the external advice and societal engagement needed to achieve the programme’s objectives.
SusChem has always been an open and inclusive organisation working for and with its stakeholder constituencies. SusChem is not established as a formal legal entity and carries out its activities through its stakeholders. This encourages a highly collaborative approach.
SusChem’s principal governance body is the SusChem Board, which manages SusChem’s overall strategy and activities. The activities of the board are supported by the SusChem Management Team, which works to implement the SusChem strategy. SusChem’s day-to-day activities and support for both the board and management team are provided by the SusChem secretariat based at Cefic in Brussels.
The network platforms meet prior to the SusChem Board and is governed by a NTP leadership team by one composed of three members elected once a year and with a rotating chair elected amongst the three members.
Every year, SusChem organises a major European Stakeholder event open to all stakeholders and to anyone with an interest in sustainable chemistry and innovation. In addition, we organise brokerage events during which we call for support in developing ideas and building consortia for EU funded projects.
SusChem can draw on a wide range of expertise and resources in its stakeholders and associated networks. To deliver the ETPs’ objectives and formulate its programmes, working groups are formed that bring together specialists working on specific topics, covering different technology areas, innovation programmes and education and skills.
SusChem across Europe - National Technology Platforms Membership
The network of National Technology Platforms comprises today of 14 countries across Europe. They work on national sustainable chemistry initiatives, support national engagement in EU collaborative projects and programmes and contribute to transnational collaborations.
The membership is open to all countries of the European Union and the EU research partners. It is preferably run by an industry association, but this could also be another entity i.e. a research centre, as long as its firmly supported by the national industry. If you are interested please contact the NTP coordinator.