Is there a problem in Europe with finding funding for demonstration projects?
Yes. Most funding opportunities are still research-oriented, although progress has been made, for example from FP6 to FP7. But it is a long step from a research result to a final, marketable product. Here, companies are often left alone because this phase is no longer considered pre-competitive. This is not always the case. Often excellent research will not be developed further because no 'risk funding' is available.
What types of projects need this kind of support?
There are three main types of projects that need support, including projects with large investments which cannot and will not be realised by companies on their own. For example, a biorefinery or, 10 years ago, an offshore wind park.
Also, projects with long timelines. From our experiences at Evonik, we calculate a time period of up to 10 years from an idea to a final product, many detours included. Medium-risk demonstration projects in the early phases will shorten timelines.
Finally, projects originating from SMEs also need support. What is the result of not supporting demonstration projects? Is Europe failing to capitalise on its investment in R&D?
The result of not supporting demonstration projects would be a decline in Europe's industrial performance and competitiveness. Pilot and industrial demonstration projects are the decisive steps to transform results from our R&D into 'best available technology'.
Demonstration projects are also needed to convince people to invest in energy-saving technologies, for example insulation for buildings constructed in the last century. Otherwise, Europe will not meet its climate goals. What competing countries are doing the best job in this area?
With regard to innovation performance, Finland, Sweden and Switzerland. How could these projects be funded? Would you like to see funding from the EU framework programmes (FP7)?
Yes, the framework programmes should focus more on demonstration. There should be a much better coordination with the CIP programmes of DG Enterprise. Venture capital, public private partnerships, tax relief at member-state level, and EU structural funds could also be used.