New plans for 2016 outlined in the Permanent Working Group meeting
ECRN members gathered for a first official meeting in Brussels on 2-3 February 2016. Collaborative strategic planning over the past months has resulted in an action-packed outline for the year to come, with activities on topics such as bioeconomy, smart specialisation and cross-border collaboration across regions and networks.
The expert debate on REACH held in January was the first event to kick off the year and numerous additional initiatives are in the pipeline. The next ECRN meetings will be held in June: a Permanent Working Group on 15 June and Executive Board meeting and the ECRN General Assembly on 16 June in Brussels.
Experts’ Discussion: REACH and procedures for SMEs
On 27 January 2016, ECRN and the Representation of the State of Hessen to the European Union organized an experts’ discussion on “REACH and procedures for SMEs”.
The speakers included Andreas Herdina, the SME Ambassador from the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), Dr. Klaus Berend from DG GROW and Dr. Suzanne Wiandt from Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA) Dortmund - German National Helpdesk REACH. Regional officials and industry/SME representatives participated in the discussion and presented their views.
Herdina from ECHA gave a briefing on the REACH procedures for SMEs and gave examples of support, infocards and advisory services provided on ECHA’s internet platform. There will be also workshops for SMEs for direct feedback. From the Commission’s perspective, Berend emphasized in particular the need to involve SMEs for the REACH process and easing the monetary burdens for SMEs. He aimed especially for the need of fair, transparent and non-discriminatory set of rules in chemical policy. These actions with many others are aiming towards general streamlining of the REACH process together with lowering its costs. On the other hand, Wiandt offered a thorough look on the functions and routine of the German REACH helpdesk. She pointed out the great need for the helpdesk, as it receives around 200 to 300 contacts every month.
Regional and industrial parties emphasized also the great need for the national helpdesks and the possibility to be informed in all the European languages.
13th ECRN Congress 8-9 October 2015
The 13th Congress of the European Chemical Regions, “Sustainable Chemistry for Life – the role of chemistry in the European bioeconomy” is taking place in Italy on 8-9 October 2015. Jointly hosted by our Italian members, the first day is organised in Novara and the second day in Milan. This year’s focus is on bioeconomy in Europe and particularly the role of chemistry and innovations in the process towards more sustainable future. During the first day, our attention is on sustainable innovations and technological advancements in the field of biotechnology and bioeconomy. The afternoon of 8 October is dedicated to networking in the “Market of Ideas” with partners from all over Europe. During the second day, we look more into policies, strategies and future perspectives. See more information in the Congress section.
ECRN and ERRMA cooperate on bioeconomy
The European Chemical Regions Network (ECRN) and the European Renewable Resources and Materials Association (ERRMA) are working closely together on Bioeconomy. To mark this collaboration, we present a joint statement on our common interests on sustainability and the future of the European Bioeconomy. Read more here.
Bioeconomy is an important issue for regions and Europe as a whole. Bioeconomy will also be the focus of the upcoming 13th ECRN Congress that will be organised in Italy in October 2015. While bioeconomy and questions related to sustainability are attracting increasing interest at the European level as well as globally, as an interregional network we also wish to underline the important role of the regions and regionally based activities in the process.
ECRN workshop on chemical parks in ACHEMA on 17 June 2015
ECRN partnered together with leading experts in chemical park planning and management for a workshop on chemical parks in ACHEMA on 17 June 2015. Under the theme of “Worldwide best practices in eco-efficient construction and management of chemical parks”, the role of chemical parks as value creation drivers for entire chemical regions was illustrated by numerous examples presented by practitioners from different parts of Europe.
In the discussion on the key success factors of a modern chemical park and the future of parks, it became clear that modern chemical parks are much more than industrial sites. They are platforms and fertile breeding ground for value creation and new innovations. Moreover, chemical parks are very integrated in the communities in which they operate and these links to the society, the universities or other research or education institutions, as well as relations with the public are important parts of park operations. Thus cooperation does not only take place within the parks, but also with partners beyond the physical boundaries of a park (clusters, experts, researchers, inter-institutional collaboration etc.). Exchange of views and broad-based cooperation across organizational as well as sectoral boundaries were seen as keys to future development. See the workshop agenda for more information and see the workshop photos.
New projects and good progress in ECRN Project Council
The third ECRN Project Council meeting was organised in Brussels on 25 February 2015. After its first year of activities, the Project Council has grown into an active platform for interregional collaboration and networking. The third meeting attracted more than 45 participants to share their project ideas and look for partners for new activities.
Previously introduced project proposals are currently in further development and new initiatives were brought to the Council during the meeting. Collaboration and work on these proposals will continue in the coming months. The ECRN Project Council is an open platform and new partners are welcome to join and participate in the activities. See photos from the meeting here and more information about the ECRN Project Council here.