SPIRE is prepared to go for Horizon 2020

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On the 21st October 2013, SPIRE, the proposed Horizon 2020 Public Private Partnership (PPP) on Sustainable Process Industry through Resource and Energy Efficiency, celebrated the first anniversary of A.SPIRE aisbl, the legal entity established to manage and implement the initiative, at a sparkling cocktail event at the Crowne Plaza - Le Palace Hotel in Brussels.

Members of A.SPIRE gathered to celebrate the achievements of the organisation so far and prepare for the brokerage event that took place on the 22nd of October at the same venue.

Dr Klaus Sommer, President of A.SPIRE aisbl, announced that: "SPIRE was ready to go for Horizon 2020!" He looked forward to the ideas that the Brokerage session would bring. He praised SPIRE members for the hard work that they had undertaken in almost three years of preparation and looked forward to seven years of achievement for the PPP in Horizon 2020.

Dr. Soren Bowadt of the European Commission also praised the strong support shown for SPIRE by so many industry sectors and Member States. In particular he praised the technical strength of the SPIRE Roadmap. A new and inspirational SPIRE promotional video was premiered at the cocktail event to great appreciation from members.

Earlier in the day an A.SPIRE aisbl Board meeting had taken place followed by a General Assembly meeting of the association. At the meeting new organisations were approved as members of the consortium bringing the total membership to 90 entities that include companies (large and small), trade and academic associations, and research institutions from eight process sectors.

The morning of 22 October saw a capacity crowd at the Brokerage session with attendance estimated at over 200 participants. Attendance at the Brokerage meeting was restricted to members of A.SPIRE.

Dr. Klaus Sommer opened proceedings outlining the way ahead for SPIRE. "Europe has excellent R&D but had not shown such a great ability to convert this into commercial success" he said. "SPIRE will focus on projects with high TRLs (technology readiness levels) undertaking demonstration initiatives to turn research into market innovation." And he also praised the SPIRE Roadmap saying: "We have good reason to be proud of the SPIRE Roadmap; it is not a political document but a tool that outlines the technical challenges for the next seven years. It is a document that is trustworthy and high quality."

Dr. Sommer outlined the immediate timetable for SPIRE. He anticipated the official signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the Commission in mid December and publication of the first calls would happen very soon after that. Project proposal responses would need to be submitted by the end of Q1 of 2014 - which was why brokerage needed to start now."SPIRE is part of H2020!" he declared.

Dr. Soren Bowadt led the Commission's presentations on the initial potential SPIRE calls in Horizon 2020 in the manufacturing and environmental areas. "It is a real pleasure for me to stand here today and see so many people here," he said. "We still need to get a signature - but we are well on the way!" He stressed the important role in Horizon 2020 for PPPs, such as SPIRE, to implement key enabling technology strategy especially in a cross-sectoral context.

Mr. Jeroen Schuppers of the European Commission DG Research described the potential calls of interest to SPIRE in the area of energy. Most of the relevant topics will be under support for transition to a reliable sustainable and competitive energy system including CO2 capture, storage and utilisation, solar heating, and geothermal energy for process use amongst others.

Mr. Rolf Riemenschneider of DG Connect outlined potential call opportunities in ICT topics including themes that will be managed under the Factories of the Future PPP. He saw ICT as a key enabler for modernising EU's manufacturing capabilities and areas such as process monitoring and control had clear overlap with the SPIRE Roadmap.

Ignacio Calleja of Tecnalia and SPIRE's R&D Chair completed the formal plenary presentations. With so many people at the brokerage he already hailed it as a real success. He also thanked the Commission experts for the very clear descriptions of possible SPIRE topics in Horizon 2020 and outlined the process to develop topics from SPIRE's roadmap and their transition into potential calls. Seven SPIRE calls could be  anticipated in the first Horizon 2020 calls.

Following the formal plenary presentation there were four breakout workshops covering the SPIRE Roadmap Key Components: WASTE2RESOURCE, FEED, PROCESS, and a combined session on APPLICATIONS and HORIZONTAL. In total 73 individual project proposal presentations were made over two sessions either side of lunch in these workshops. This was followed by some short verbal presentations covering Expressions of Interest from industrial members in SPIRE-related topics before a final wrap-up session.

Clearly SPIRE is ready to take on the challenges of Horizon 2020 and make a clear and considerable impact to boost EU competitiveness by ensuring that our talent for research reaches its full potential for delivering innovations to the marketplace. SPIRE - be more!