Chemicals industry moves ahead with R&D agenda

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While most of the attention in Brussels is focused on the REACH proposal, industry is moving on with a multi-million innovation plan aimed at taking it closer to environmental sustainability.

Industry participants at the European Technology Platform for Sustainable Chemistry (SusChem) have adopted a draft action plan to focus European R&D spending on the most promising areas with respect to future sustainability and profits.

The draft "maps out a programme of medium and long-term activity that will be constantly reviewed", said Alfred Oberholz, deputy Chairman of Degussa Management Board and SusChem chair at the closure of an implementation meeting in Budapest on 27 August.

Priorities focus around eight themes: bio-based economy; energy; health care; information and communication technologies; nanotechnology; sustainable quality of life; sustainable product and process design; and transport.

Funding estimations are "in the order of 1.4 billion euro annually in the coming years" around half of which is expected to come from public sources whether at European or national level.

Promising ideas and concepts include the construction of a "smart energy home", an "integrated biorefinery" pilot facility and a future chemicals factory that is faster and more flexible. A definitive list of projects will be drawn up at the end of 2006.

SusChem was launched jointly in 2004 by the European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC) and biotech industry group EuropaBio to focus European research in chemistry. It adopted a Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) in November 2005.

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