The Suschem flagship F3 Factory project was in the spotlight at the European Commission’s Research and Innovation conference on “Shaping our Future” as an example how to leverage EU research funding with the use of the Structural Funds. This is one of the key recommendations in the report of the High Level Group led by Pascal Lamy, released at the conference on 3 July, to launch the debate on the next EU Framework Progamme, FP9. Entitled ‘LAB – FAB – APP: investing in the European future we want’, the report delivers a strong message that investing in research and innovation is crucial for the future of Europe in a rapidly globalising world.
To shape our future together, we need to imagine, invent and create. We need research (“Labs”), innovation competitive fabrication (“Fabs”) and applications for the benefit of all (“Apps”). Hence the title of the report: Lab, Fab, App: investing in the future we want.
Launching the report, the European Commissioner for Research and Innovation Carlos Moedas underlined the crucial role of research and innovation for the future by saying: “Without science and innovation there is no growth. Without science and innovation there are no jobs.”
Reacting to the report on behalf of industry, Jean Pierre Clamadieu, CEO of Solvay, told the conference: “Together with Commissioner Moedas, we can imagine a new FP9 that nurtures a European-based research, innovation and science ecosystem linked to industry".
The success of F3 Factory
The SusChem visionary project ‘The F3 Factory’ was highlighted at the conference by Marc Lemaitre, Director-General of the Commission’s DG REGIO, as an example how research and innovation projects can be combined with the EU Structural and Investment Funds and thus achieve rationalisation of EU funding schemes. This is one of the key recommendations of the LAB-FAB-APP report, echoed at the conference.
The F3 Factory FP7 initiative showed how it was possible “to leverage all assets in Europe”, said Lemaitre. The €30 million project, implemented between 2009 and 2013, was conceived and developed by SusChem. It looked to create the future of [chemical] production. The project was hugely successful in developing new modular production processes.
The German region of Nordrhein-Westfalen was then able to use money from the EU Regional Development Fund, and through its smart specialization strategy has been able to form a new project in order to bring the F3 Factory concept closer to commercialisation for pharmaceutical processes.
The new project, MoBiDik, up-scaled and validated the F3 Factory results showing a potential 40% reduction in capital costs and a 30% reduction in energy consumption. The work is continuing through the MoBiDik Pro project funded by Bayer.
Double the R&I budget
Amongst the 11 recommendations in the LAB-FAB-APP impact report are proposals to double the budget of the post-2020 EU research and innovation programme, foster ecosystems that will promote and invest in innovative ideas with rapid scale-up potential through a European Innovation Council, and modernise the education and training of people for a creative and innovative Europe. Other actions look to focus on impact and purpose of R&I, further simplify EU R&I funding schemes and instruments, stimulate the involvement of citizens, and communicate the results and impact of EU R&I funding better.
The high level group that produced the report was led by Pascal Lamy, former European Commissioner and President Emeritus of the Jacques Delors Institute, and comprised 11 eminent personalities from research, innovation and education including Martin Brudermüller, Chief Technology Officer for BASF.