09 March 2009 17:31 [Source: ICIS news]
By Nigel Davis
There is a common market for technology in the
Take the SusChem projects which are designed to develop a platform for sustainable chemistry.
SusChem’s efforts have helped industry secure more than $625m (€494m) of EU research funding and key projects like the Smart Energy Home have attracted the participation of major chemicals players and companies from other sectors, such as electronics firm Philips and infrastructure and energy group Acciona.
Yet it is the building of demonstration ‘smart homes’ that appears to be the stumbling block. Such units could demonstrate how smart technology, from insulation and smart nanomaterials to smart electronics and power management, can help create the (more) sustainable home of the future.
But to do that, European bureaucracy has to be overcome. The Smart Energy Home project has made strides since its inception in 2004 but only now are some of the smart energy technologies to be demonstrated in a refurbishment project in
The entire SusChem initiative requires more effective collaboration between companies, sectors and public/private partnerships. Companies from similar and from different sectors have shown they can work together. Ways have to be found now around the EU bureaucracy to take the projects vital steps further.
It is more than unfortunate that while
There is a widely held view that some real breakthroughs in science can be made at the boundaries between disciplines: such as physics, chemistry and biology. Groundbreaking work might be expected, for instance, at the boundaries between the so-called BIN technologies – biotechnology, information technology and nanotechnology.
By the same token, progress in the way not only the chemical industry helps our advance towards a more sustainable future might be expected at the interface – between materials, electronics and energy management systems, for example. This is just what the Smart Energy Home is all about.
There are those in the chemical industry who firmly believe that if the EU does not break down the institutional barriers then it has a problem; innovation will not advance.
This does not simply mean the development of new substances but an innovative approach to materials, structures and, indeed ideas. Innovation in the EU will not advance at the rate it may do in other parts of the world unless
This is not special pleading on industry’s part. The sector does not believe that chemical companies should receive public funding for their product development. But something could be done to better enable wider cooperation.
There is a great deal of goodwill in the system but when it comes to deciding who will advance a particular project, and the Smart Energy Home is a case in point, the EU’s bureaucracy allied with national pride, steps in.
It is fortunate that every EU member state has an innovation policy, but it is unfortunate when those policies conspire to work against innovation itself.
($1 = €0.79)
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