Research and Innovation
The European chemical industry strives to improve its overall sustainability performance and identified the need for disruptive technologies as well as for further improvement of existing technologies. To achieve this, investments in research and innovation (R&I) are essential. Investments can come from European innovation funding programs as well as from the sector itself, stimulating all relevant stakeholders. R&I is the driving factor to maintain competitiveness of the sector. Furthermore R&I will also enable the industry to provide solutions for challenges society is facing along the value chain of the products it is producing. This is in line with SDG 9 and 12: ensuring sustainable production patterns by R&I. Also in the EU Green deal, R&I are regarded as the engine of green transformation.
R&I spending in the EU chemical industry
Capital spending on R&I in the EU chemical industry increased annually with an average of 1.7% between 2000 to 2020. In 2020, R&I spending reached €9.4 billion, the highest since 1991. However, the added value of the chemical industry increased by 2.2% annually over the same period, which indicates that there is a relative decrease in R&I investment compared to the industry’s added value created (fig. 5.1).
R&I spending in the EU chemical industry for EU27 and how this relates to the industry’s added value
Key levers for industry activity & company example
1. Improving sustainability performance
2. Research on – breakthrough low carbon and circular technologies
- Scaling up renewable hydrogen production with an innovative membrane
- Inspired by nature: replicating photosynthesis to produce chemicals
3. Involvement in international & intercompany research projects
4. Increased collaboration in innovation ecosystems
5. Digital transformation of industrial processes and operations
6. Anticipating on emerging market trends and customer demands
Contribution to the EU Green Deal
Becoming the world’s first climate-neutral continent by 2050 is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to modernise the EU’s economy and society, and re-orient them towards a just and sustainable future.
Research and innovation will play a leading role in
- Accelerating and navigating the necessary transitions
- Deploying, demonstrating and de-risking solutions
- Engaging citizens in social innovation
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