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Research and innovation

Advanced materials and chemicals

Why the EU supports this area, sustainability by design, responsible development of nanotechnologies, related documents and links. 

Why does the EU support research and innovation for advanced materials and chemicals?

Advanced materials and chemicals are essential for the well-being, high living standards and comfort of modern society. Advanced materials are considered to be a Key Enabling Technology. They are used in many sectors (e.g. health, energy, mobility and housing) in products such as consumer goods, construction materials, cleaning products, cosmetics and more.

Advanced materials, including nanomaterials, are designed with a purpose to have novel or enhanced properties and improve performance over conventional materials in products and processes. Europe is strong in developing advanced materials. However, new opportunities need to be seized to safeguard industrial leadership and a strategic autonomy.

On 7 February 2022, a Materials 2030 Manifesto was presented by high-level representatives from European research institutes and industries to Commissioner Gabriel. It stressed the importance of EU’s technology leaderships, strategic autonomy and the role of advanced materials. It invites stakeholders to combine more closely upstream research with industry driven applications in innovation markets.

Building on the vision of the Materials 2030 Manifesto, on 22 June, the ‘Materials 2030 Roadmap’ was published. The goal of this Roadmap is to pave the way for the engagement of all advanced materials stakeholders and co-create the European materials agenda with R&I stakeholders.

Research and innovation is a tool to increase and ensure safety and sustainability of chemicals and materials throughout their lifecycle.

The Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability announces 2 main activities for 2022:

  • Safe and Sustainable by Design criteria
  • Strategic Research and Innovation Plan for chemicals and materials

Advanced Materials

The Commission recognises challenges and opportunities highlighted in Materials 2030 Manifesto and will engage in dedicated follow-up actions.

The manifesto underlines 4 challenges and opportunities for further research on advanced materials:

  1. safeguarding EU’s technology leadership
  2. reduction of environmental footprint by using advanced materials
  3. securing strategic autonomy
  4. targeting advanced materials innovation markets

It calls for a strong European materials ecosystem with enhanced collaboration of upstream developers, downstream users and citizens and all stakeholders in between. The manifesto highlights 9 new markets emerging from implementing the Green Deal (so called innovation markets) to drive research on advanced materials.

The signatories to the Materials 2030 Manifesto have been working with four major European Technology Platforms (EMIRI, EuMAT, MANUFUTURE and SUSCHEM) towards an open roadmap which was presented at the Industrial Technology Conference in 2022.

Most of the key enabling technologies referred to in the EU’s Industrial Strategy for Europe are to some extent based on future generation nanomaterials. There is however still a knowledge gap about the safety of nanomaterials for human and environmental health as well as lack of methods to assess this.

The European Commission has been supporting the safety evaluation of nanomaterials field by different actions: the European Union Observatory for Nanomaterials (EUON), the EU NanoSafety Cluster and the Malta Initiative supporting the work of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development on nanomaterials standardization and risk assessment. 

The international collaboration includes among others the work via 7 Communities of Research (CORs) on environmental, health and safety aspects of nanomaterials and one on nanomanufacturing established within the EU and US.

Expert Group on Advanced Materials

The mission of the group is to deepen cooperation between Member States, Associated States and the Commission in advanced materials.

This group will contribute to the mapping and gap analysis of current actions and innovation at regional and national level as well as Horizon2020 and Horizon Europe projects. It will investigate smart specialisation strategies, national infrastructure roadmaps and structural funds.

The group will focus on research and innovation activities relevant to materials, products and chemicals to fulfil the concept of safe and sustainable by design.

Safe and Sustainable by Design Framework

Safe and sustainable by design is a systemic approach to integrate safety, circularity and functionality of products and processes throughout their lifecycle, from design to end of life also considering the possibility to recycle, reuse or repurpose them.

As announced in the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability, the Commission is developing a framework setting out the steps and criteria for assessing safety and sustainability of chemicals and materials.

The framework will provide authorities, scientists and companies with specific guidance for how to assess safety and sustainability in a combined approach, starting at the design phase of new chemicals and materials but also at later stages of their lifecycle.

Register as stakeholder, receive news on the progress and invitations to future events

Please find the latest publications on this subject in the documents section.

Strategic Research and Innovation Plan for Chemicals and Materials (SRIP)

The SRIP report, first announced in the 2020 Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability, identifies research and innovation areas crucial for boosting the transition to chemicals and materials that are safe and sustainable. It provides a comprehensive outlook of research and innovation needs from production to (re)use, disposal and the decontamination of our environment. The SRIP also provides guidance on cross-cutting for how to make the most of such research and innovation activities.

The aim of SRIP is to encourage and guide funders in EU, national and private financial programmes. It reflects the priorities of authorities, scientists and companies alike.

SRIP report interactive presentation

Please find the latest publications on this subject in the documents section.

Horizon European Partnership for the Assessment of Risks from Chemicals (PARC)

The European Partnership for the Assessment of Risks from Chemicals supports innovation in chemical risk assessment, while the Processes4Planet partnership addresses sustainable production processes in the chemical sector. It is a co-funded Horizon Europe partnership with a total budget of €400 million for 7 years starting in May 2022.

The aim of the partnership is to establish an EU-wide research and innovation programme to support EU and national chemical risk assessment and risk management bodies with new data, methods, networks and skills to address current, emerging and novel chemical safety challenges.

More information, proposal and contact details

Documents

Report26 October 2022
Strategic Research and Innovation Plan for safe and sustainable Chemicals and Materials

The SRIP sets out an overarching plan addressing R&I needs across the lifecycle of chemicals and materials to achieve the goals of the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability (CSS) and the overall societal transition as envisioned by the Green Deal and the related policy initiatives.

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Safe and sustainable by design chemicals and materials
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Advanced Materials Manifesto
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Mapping study for the development of sustainable-by-design criteria
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JRC Report: Review of safety and sustainability dimensions, aspects, methods, indicators and tools
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