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Research and innovation

Sustainable production processes

What sustainable production process are, why the EU supports them, details of partnerships, Open Innovation Test Beds and Hubs4circularity.

Why does the EU support research and innovation for production processes?

Energy-intensive industries accounted for 17% of the EU’s total greenhouse gas emissions in 2019. The European Green Deal and the Industrial Strategy are game changers for our society and more specifically for the process industries.

These industries e.g. chemicals, steel, cement, aluminium, non-ferrous metals, pulp and paper, ceramics etc. produce materials which directly contribute to the quality of life of citizens and are essential to most of the value chains of our economy.

The presence of the process industries in the EU is of strategic importance for the resilience of our society to unexpected events and crises.

Process industries emissions have been significantly reduced to fight climate change. However, they still account for significant share of total CO2 EU emissions and their reduction should continue. In parallel, increasing the circularity of the industrial processes and reducing waste generation are also important aspects for EU sustainability.

Horizon Europe Partnership Processes4Planet (P4Planet)

P4Planet is a Horizon Europe co-programmed partnership with an overall budget of €2.6 billion, €1.3 billion from Horizon Europe and €1.3 billion for the private partners.

It is the successor to the Horizon 2020 SPIRE Partnership. The partnerships private partners are represented by A.SPIRE, with more than 150 members.

P4Planet‘s ambition is to make European energy intensive process industries circular and climate neutral by 2050 and enhance their global competitiveness.

At least 10 leading sectors of the European Process Industry will be engaged in the implementation of the partnership. These include cement, steel, ceramics, chemicals, engineering, minerals and ores, non-ferrous metals, water, refineries, and pulp or paper.

The partnership works on emerging technologies and on the scaling up of already developed technologies at higher technology readiness levels (TRLs) to deliver expected CO2 emission reductions by 2030 and achieve their full impact by 2050.

Proactive and continuous engagement with EU countries, regions, civil society, other research and innovation partnerships and initiatives, and other relevant stakeholders is crucial.


Hubs4Circularity are state-of-the-art demonstrator plants of near commercial size to deploy cross-sectorial collaboration and to reduce and optimise the use of resources (feedstock, energy and water) in a profitable way.

They are anchored in the local ecosystem to optimise the existing resources including investments and rely on funding strategies involving all local stakeholders. They are a key element of the road map of the Processes4Planet partnership.

The first projects kicked off in 2015 with 12 projects granted a total of €126 million under Horizon 2020. Four Hubs4Circularity projects have been granted €47 million under Horizon Europe in 2021.

Hubs4Circularity European Community of Practice (ECoP) will be launched in summer 2022 with the goal to exchange knowledge, human capital and develop learning resources. Examples of operational Hubs4Circularity can be found in Finland (Green City Lathi), Denmark (Kalundborg Symbiosis) and Delta region (Smart Delta Resources).

Discover the new infographic and get involved

Open Innovation Test Beds

Open Innovation Test Beds (OITBs) address the challenges of the industrial transformation in view of the European Green Deal and the Twin Transition of Europe's industry, by providing support to the scaling-up and diffusion of technologies.

The core support services provided by Open Innovation Test Beds are to develop, test and upscale technology to advance from validation in a laboratory to higher Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs) prior to competitive market entry.

Their potential users are mainly industrial players, including SMEs, which seek support to develop and integrate innovative technologies towards commercialisation of new products, processes and services, whilst ensuring feasibility and regulatory compliance.

Under Horizon 2020 the Commission invested €285 million in supporting Open Innovation Test Beds. More information can be found in the H2020 2018-2020 work programme and the explanatory note on OITBs. Under Horizon Europe the Commission will continue investments in Open Innovation Test Beds.

Discover the new Cordis Results Pack on how Open Innovation Test Beds accelerate European innovation


23 JUNE 2022
Hubs for circularity – Keeping local with a global impact
(269.16 KB - HTML)

18 JUNE 2020
Processes4Planet - Transforming the European Process Industry for a sustainable society
(4.75 MB - PDF)
22 APRIL 2022
Open innovation testbeds - definition
(421.61 KB - PDF)