Sunday, 29 September 2013 19:16

European Innovation Partnership

Written by 

Strategic Implementation Plan for the European Innovation Partnership on Raw Materials launched on September 25 2013

EU master plan for raw materials: innovation is the key

Raw materials are the lifeblood of EU industry. At least 30 million jobs in the EU depend upon access to them. But Europe faces increasing demand for unprocessed minerals and metals and, in parallel, strong challenges to the supply of certain raw materials, including price volatility and market distortions. In response, the High Level Steering Group of the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) on Raw Materials released a Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP) describing how to ensure a sustainable supply of raw materials to the European economy and make Europe a world leader in raw materials exploration, extraction, processing, recycling and substitution by 2020. Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP) for the European Innovation Partnership on Raw Materials was officially adopted on 25 September 2013. In the SIP this will be achieved through the actions in the following Priority areas:

·     Raw materials research and innovation coordination

·     Technologies for primary and secondary raw materials production

·     Substitution of raw materials

The SIP addresses all actions necessary to achieve the objectives and targets of the European Innovation Partnership, in particular with regard to research and development along the value chain and raw materials knowledge in general. It calls for a swift implementation of the SIP, supporting the ambitions and goals of Horizon 2020. At the same time it addresses the issue of reducing the EU’s import dependency through new integrated technological solutions for accessing new raw materials, better resource efficiency of industrial processes and improved recycling, as well as through finding new alternatives to supply rare and critical raw materials through substitution, while mitigating the related negative environmental impacts and increasing social sustainability.

The launch of the EIP on Raw Materials and the launch of Europe 2020 Strategy targets on resource efficiency create a historic opportunity to establish a 3D data and knowledge infrastructure and “Mineral Intelligence” at EU level that would be built on existing national / Member States capacities and derive synergies from international cooperation. By 2020, the EU will have secured a sustainable minerals and metals supply base to ensure competitiveness and growth of the EU industry as a whole. Scientific breakthroughs and sustained innovation efforts will have significantly improved access to, production, use and recycling of resources. By 2050, the EU will have managed on a sustainable basis the entire life-cycle of minerals and metals in the EU.

The SIP outlines detailed actions which the parties involved - EU countries, companies, researchers and NGOs – can use to foster technological and non-technological innovation in the raw materials value chain, as well as in the international arena. These include a wide range of initiatives such as new cost-effective exploration concepts and technologies, better recovery and recycling of demolition waste and finding substitutes for critical raw materials such as the indium used in touch screen technologies. Concrete targets of the SIP include the launch of up to 10 pilot projects to promote technologies for the production of primary and secondary raw materials, to find substitutes for at least three applications of critical and scarce raw materials as well as to create better framework conditions for raw materials in Europe. The SIP also lists actions to improve Europe's waste management framework conditions and excellence, and to reinforce EU knowledge, skills and raw materials flows; by developing an EU Raw Materials Knowledge Base and potentially setting up a EIT Knowledge and Innovation Community (KIC). Actions are also proposed to support an international co-operation strategy, at bilateral and multilateral level.

A public Call for Commitments to be issued at the end of October 2013 will allow all potential stakeholders to express their concrete intention to contribute to the implementation of the SIP. A Communication will follow in 2014, to explain how the European Commission, Member States, industry and academia intend to implement the SIP.