Field: Dissemination of information, Energy efficiency in industry, Partnership
Global Technical function: Support to business
Technical Function Unit: Combining activities, Disseminating, Enhancing the cooperation, Networking, Providing support (advise/consultancy), Skills sharing, Strategic planning, Sustainability criteria
Geographic Area: Sweden
Type of actors: Industry, Policy makers, Professional associations, SMEs, Technical centers & experts, Universities

Chemical Regions for Resource Efficiency (R4R)

Research-driven clusters from six European regions have joined forces as “Chemical Regions for Resource Efficiency (R4R)” with the goals of improving research, enhancing the cooperation, overcoming fragmentation. They aim to transform these industries into eco-efficient, high-tech solution providers, thus providing support to business and more positively impacting the environment and society.

The challenge

Europe’s chemical and process industry is one of its most energy- and resource-intensive sectors.[1] Some regions within Europe developed sophisticated initiatives that lead the way to a zero-waste and resource efficient process industries.[2] By forming a liaison of triple helix clusters (composed of universitiespolicy makersindustry) chemical regions are in a position to address certain societal challenges.[3] By combining activities and improving strategic planning, the development of a modern chemical industry in resilient regions will speed up, using sustainability criteria as a measure of success. One important step in this direction will be switching to bio-based feedstock, energy efficiency in industry, the recycling of materials, and looking at industry with an integrated approach ensuring synergies between sectors.[4]

The network

R4R was launched in November 2012 as a European funded project by six complementary EU regions each region consists of their own local experts and public-private-research communities. They came together to actively and systematically engage by cooperating, developing and integrating their research and innovation efforts which are aimed at improving resource consumption and eco-innovation in industry.[5] At networking events, stakeholders such as SMEsprofessional associations, or technical centres & experts, are encouraged to animate this platform for international collaboration on resource efficiency.[6] R4R is coordinated by SP[7] (Sweden) and opens up clusters in third countries to comprehensively improve and accelerate innovation.

The benefits

By enhancing the cooperation and dissemination of information, R4R acts as an active network throughout the sector within Europe, fostering contacts within innovative chemical regions, including those beyond Europe. Skills sharing, the exchange of experience and research partnerships can help accelerate innovation in the chemical industry. These positive impacts on resource efficiency could mean that, by 2030, the chemical industry could potentially; cut its CO2 footprint by 50%, make a 30% reduction in its energy consumption, and reduce its use of raw materials by 20%.[8] The broad thematic coverage within triple helix clusters in chemical regions simplifies technology transfer and helps disseminating identified good practices.

Further deployment

R4R’s regional research collaboration, the fact that they are providing support and opportunities for industry to improve the efficiency of its resource and energy usage, and to reduce its environmental impact will promote European eco-innovative technologies globally.[9] In addition, the network will create a set of tested tools, practices and examples for other European regions and sectors to apply in the future.[10] Since the concept of R4R was enlarged to open up to new partner regions, it qualifies for an estimated level 6 on the generic maturity scale GML.[11] More than 180 regional actors will be involved in the process of identifying research and innovation needs to improve research agenda at a regional level and will contribute to the umbrella activities of the European Technology Platform for Sustainable Chemistry. [12],[13]