This destination will directly support the following Key Strategic Orientations (KSOs), as outlined in the Strategic Plan:[[Whilst Cluster 4 addresses KSOs A, C and D, in addition KSO B is becoming increasingly important, given the role of the industry highlighted in the zero-pollution action plan.]]
- KSO C, ‘Making Europe the first digitally led circular, climate-neutral and sustainable economy through the transformation of its mobility, energy, construction and production systems.’
- KSO A, ‘Promoting an open strategic autonomy by leading the development of key digital, enabling and emerging technologies, sectors and value chains to accelerate and steer the digital and green transitions through human-centred technologies and innovations.’
- KSO D, ‘Creating a more resilient, inclusive and democratic European society, prepared and responsive to threats and disasters, addressing inequalities and providing high-quality health care, and empowering all citizens to act in the green and digital transitions.’
Proposals for topics under this Destination should set out a credible pathway to the following expected impact of Cluster 4:
Global leadership in clean, climate-neutral and resilient industrial value chains, circular economy and climate-neutral and human-centric digital systems and infrastructures, through innovative production and manufacturing processes and their digitisation, new business models, sustainable-by-design advanced materials and technologies enabling the switch to decarbonisation in all major emitting industrial sectors, including green digital technologies.
This Destination will contribute to putting the European Union and Associated Countries on track for achieving climate neutrality of the industrial sector by 2050, while also reducing other polluting emissions, and for speeding up Europe’s independence from Russian fossil fuels, in line with the REPowerEU Plan, by means of cleaner, more efficient and more sustainable industrial processes.
The speed and scale of the twin green and digital transitions has accelerated, and significant opportunities lie ahead to position the European Union and Associated Countries as a technological and industrial leader of this transition, building on their world class R&I capacities and industrial base. Industrial ecosystems will not only need to develop, but also deploy technologies and reshape their goods and services towards a new reality, ensuring that industry can become the accelerator and enabler of the twin green and digital transition. It will also enhance the Union’s open strategic autonomy with regard to the underlying technologies. To achieve these goals, the activities in this Destination are complementary to those in Destination ‘Increased Autonomy in Key Strategic Value Chains for Resilient Industry’.
The most relevant policies of the European Commission on this front are:
- The European Industrial Strategy of March 2020, and in particular the Update of May 2021: there is now a renewed momentum in the EU to tackle its strategic dependencies as well as to boost its resilience across key strategic areas. The Covid-19 crisis revealed the importance of improving production response and preparedness of EU industry, in support of its long-term competitiveness.
- The Digital Decade of March 2021, where the Commission presented a vision, targets and avenues for a successful digital transformation of Europe by 2030.
- The Circular Economy Action Plan of March 2020 announced initiatives along the entire life cycle of products. It targets how products are designed, promotes circular economy processes, encourages sustainable consumption, and aims to ensure that waste is prevented and the resources used are kept in the EU economy for as long as possible.
- The Fit for 55 Package of July 2021, delivering the EU's 2030 Climate Target on the way to climate neutrality, given the process industries’ 20% share of global greenhouse gas emissions.
- The Zero Pollution Action Plan of May 2021 addresses both pollution and waste, where research needs could be tackled and is particularly relevant to advanced materials and the process industries, as well as to the manufacturing industry.
The topics serving the objectives of this destination are structured as follows:
The implementation of the Green Deal has major repercussions for manufacturing. Products and related value chains need to be made circular, carbon-neutral and regenerative – in other words, industry has to make positive contributions to the environment and to society, and offer a negative carbon footprint for future products. Manufacturing is expected to be a key driver in this transformation of industry. Current challenges addressed in this work programme include bio-intelligent manufacturing; high-precision and complex-product manufacturing; circularity and remanufacturing; collaborative distributed manufacturing and business models close to the customers, including Manufacturing as a Service, to enable the evolution from the ‘smart factory’ to the ‘smart value network’.
This industrial revolution should not be to the detriment of workers. The lack of appropriate skills in manufacturing is becoming a concern in many sectors, opening the opportunity for the use of breakthrough innovative technologies to make manufacturing jobs more attractive; and more broadly to ensure that manufacturing provides prosperity beyond jobs, while respecting planetary boundaries.
- A new way to build, accelerating disruptive change in construction
The construction industry needs to improve its productivity and competitiveness, and upskill its workforce. Its transition pathway depends on greater digitalisation, resilience and resource efficiency across the board. This need has been heightened by recent rising demand following the pandemic, pressure to maintain and repair works and to address hazardous substances.
- Energy efficient and climate neutral process industries
From the R&I perspective, climate neutrality by 2050 should be the starting point for any action paving the way to a regenerative industrial transformation. The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on climate mitigation, released in April 2022,[[IPCC report “Mitigation of Climate Change’, April 2022]] points out that the goal of net-zero GHG emissions for industry is challenging but possible. It will need coordinated action throughout value chains to promote all mitigation options, including energy and materials efficiency, circular material flows, as well as abatement technologies and transformational changes in production processes.
In this context, the process industries' climate neutrality goal is strongly related to the objectives of becoming independent on fossil fuel and fossil fuel imports. To reach these objectives, production processes need to be energy efficient, implying advanced digitisation; renewable energies need to be integrated via electrifications or use of hydrogen; and abatement technologies including CCU for processes that are hard to decarbonise need to be further developed.
This Work Programme refers to the operational objectives of the Processes4Planet partnership, found in the respective Memorandum of Understanding.[[http://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/default/files/research_and_innovation/funding/documents/c_2021_4113_f1_annex_en_v3_p1_1213806.pdf]]
- Circularity and Zero Pollution in process industries
Energy-intensive industries need to embrace the circular economy and restorative feedback loops, not as an afterthought but as a key pillar of the design of entire value chains. In this context the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability, which aims to better protect citizens and the environment whilst boosting the innovation for safe and sustainable chemicals, and its related Strategic Research and innovation agenda are also key. Energy-intensive industries need to commit to engage in Hubs for Circularity and to adopt new collaborative circular business models. There is also a clear space to increase the circularity of industrial wastewater, in symbiosis with urban wastewater, recycling a much higher share of the water, including from the municipal sector to industry and valorising more components in the wastewater.
The Hubs for Circularity (H4C) will be a key instrument to advance the research and innovation agenda of European industries towards the Green Deal’s objectives. The H4Cs will implement a collection of industrial -urban symbiosis and circularity technologies at scale, which will lead to first-of-a-kind, lighthouse demonstrator plants of (near) commercial size implementing industrial symbiosis and/or urban industrial symbiosis. Starting from existing industry cluster or heavy industrialized urban areas, their aim is to collectively achieve and demonstrate at scale a leap towards circularity and carbon neutrality in the use of resources (feedstock, energy and water) in a profitable way involving all stakeholders (Industry, SMEs, local authorities, educational institutions and civil society). It is a new way to re-imagine the whole value chain in a cross-sectorial and collaborative way exploiting synergies and anchoring in the local ecosystem to optimize the incoming resources including investments. It is about building on creativity, digital tools, AI, and breakthrough technologies for implementing cost-optimal pathways and new value chains for the engineering of a net-zero circular economy.
Projects outcomes will enable achievement of the objectives of Processes4Planet partnership by demonstrating hubs for circularity (H4Cs) concepts[[The website will be updated shortly with much more detailed info and examples https://ec.europa.eu/info/research-and-innovation/research-area/industrial-research-and-innovation/key-enabling-technologies/advanced-manufacturing_en#hubs-for-circularity-h4c]], fostering circularity within and beyond process industries and driving the partnership’s innovation portfolio towards “First of a kind” demonstrators to de-risk investment for subsequent roll-out. (P4Planet operational objectives 8 and 9).
Related to the objectives for energy-intensive industries in general, the steel industry will be enabled to reduce its GHG emissions to the Fit for 55 targets, in particular contributing to fulfilling the new obligations foreseen in the revised ETS Directive to prepare for transition to climate neutrality and to take new pathways towards Circular Economy concepts.
Business cases and exploitation strategies for industrialisation: This section applies only to those topics in this Destination, for which proposals should demonstrate the expected impact by including a business case and exploitation strategy for industrialisation.
The business case should demonstrate the expected impact of the proposal in terms of enhanced market opportunities for the participants and deployment in the EU, in the short to medium term. It should describe the targeted market(s); estimated market size in the EU and globally; user and customer needs; and demonstrate that the solutions will match the market and user needs in a cost-effective manner; and describe the expected market position and competitive advantage.
The exploitation strategy should identify obstacles, requirements and necessary actions involved in reaching higher TRLs (Technology Readiness Levels), for example: matching value chains, enhancing product robustness; securing industrial integrators; and user acceptance.
For TRL 7, a credible strategy to achieve future full-scale deployment in the EU is expected, indicating the commitments of the industrial partners after the end of the project.
Where relevant, in the context of skills, it is recommended to develop training material to endow workers with the right skillset in order to support the uptake and deployment of new innovative products, services, and processes developed in the different projects. This material should be tested and be scalable, and can potentially be up-scaled through the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+). This will help the European labour force to close the skill gaps in the relevant sectors and occupational groups and improve employment and social levels across the EU and associated countries.
In order to achieve the expected outcomes, for particular topics international cooperation is not mandatory but advised with some regions or countries, to get internationally connected and add additional specific expertise and value to the activities.
To achieve wider effects activities beyond R&I investments will be needed. Three co-programmed partnerships will enhance dissemination, community building and foster spillover effects: Made in Europe for the manufacturing industries; and Processes4Planet and Clean Steel for the energy-intensive industries. Wider activities include the further development of skills and competencies (also via the European Institute of Innovation and Technology, in particular EIT Manufacturing, EIT Digital and EIT Climate-KIC); and the use of financial products under the InvestEU Fund for further commercialisation of R&I outcomes. For the energy-intensive industries in particular, links with the Innovation Fund are important.
For advanced manufacturing in general, synergies are necessary between the Made in Europe Partnership and the Digital Europe Programme, primarily Industrial Data Spaces, Cybersecurity Centres and European Digital Innovation Hubs.
Related to the construction activities, Cluster 5 addresses the energy performance of buildings, under the destination ‘Efficient, sustainable and inclusive energy use’, as well as the Built4People co-programmed partnership for a ‘people-centric sustainable built environment’.
For the energy-intensive industries, there are synergies for energy efficiency and the management of thermal energy in industry in Cluster 5, under ‘Industries in energy transition’; and with the Clean Hydrogen partnership.
As some necessary activities of the energy-intensive industries, such as first-of-a-kind plants, involve deployment beyond TRL 7, synergies with other EU programmes are essential in this context, in particular with the Innovation Fund, with the Life Plus Programme, and with the activities of the EIB. International cooperation in process industries will be strengthened through Mission Innovation 2.0 ‘Net zero Industries’.
Innovation Actions — Legal entities established in China are not eligible to participate in Innovation Actions in any capacity. Please refer to the Annex B of the General Annexes of this Work Programme for further details.