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Innovation Union Scoreboard

The Innovation Union’s performance scoreboard 2014 report confirms that the European Union’s (EU) overall performance in research and innovation activities is improving steadily, and the gap between the most and least innovative countries is showing a decreasing tendency even if the progress is relatively slow.

The scoreboard framework examines three main types of indicators including:

  • Enablers (the main external drivers of innovation performance, including human resources, open, excellent and attractive research systems, and finance and support)
  • Firm activities (the innovation efforts at a firm level, including firm investments, linkages and entrepreneurship and intellectual assets) and
  • Outputs (innovators and economic effects)

The report divides the EU countries into four performance groups:
  • Innovation Leaders (including Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Germany)
  • Innovation Followers (including Belgium, Estonia, France, Ireland, Netherlands, Slovenia and the UK)
  • Moderate Innovators (including Croatia, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Poland and Spain) and
  • Modest Innovators (including Bulgaria, Latvia and Romania)

Portugal, Estonia and Latvia are the countries which have improved their performance the most over the last years. At a European level, particular progress has been noted in the openness and attractiveness of the EU research system as well as business innovation collaboration and the commercialisation of knowledge as measured by licence and patent revenues from abroad. However, the growth of public R&D expenditures over the last years was offset by a continuous decline in venture capital investments and non-R&D innovation investments in companies.

Water Innovation

Recently in abundance in many parts of Europe due to heavy rainfalls, water is not only a precondition for human, animal and plant life but also a key resource for the economy. Over the last two decades water has been an important element of European environmental policy and research, and in recent years its prominence and role has significantly increased thanks to a renewed focus on resource efficient economy, climate change mitigation and climate resilient infrastructure. This focus has been emphasised in a number of key policies and initiatives, including the Blueprint to Safeguard Europe's Water Resources, the EU Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change, Resource Efficient Europe and the European Innovation Partnership on Water.

For more information on water-related EU policies and funding opportunities go to:

Full speed ahead for EU funding calls

The biggest EU financial instrument for research and innovation, Horizon 2020, was officially launched in December 2013 and will see its first funding calls close in March 2014. Thousands of organisations across Europe are working on developing competitive projects, and websites such as CORDISEnterprise Europe Network and LinkedIn offer many partnering opportunities.

For more information go to: to:

Upcoming events

29 March 2014
WWF Earth Hour
The world's biggest call to action on the threats facing our planet. Encourages individuals, businesses and organisations to sign up and switch off all non-essential lighting at 8.30pm.

6 - 7 May 2014
PEF Food Conference 
International conference on Environmental Footprinting in the food & drink sector and beyond. The event focuses on the Environmental Footprint Initiative by the European Commission

12 - 16 May 2014
Green Office Week
Encourages office workers to 'Spring in to Action' to help their office environment work for the natural environment in practical ways.

3 - 6 June 2014
Green Week
The biggest annual conference on European environment policy, will take place at The Egg Conference Centre, Rue Bara, in Brussels. The theme will be Circular Economy, Resource Efficiency & Waste.

National Awards Cermony: Germany

Congratulations to this year’s winners of the Innovation Prize for Climate and Environment (IKU). For the fourth time, the Federation of German Industries (BDI) and the Federal Environment Ministry awarded prizes for outstanding innovation in climate and environmental protection on 3 December 2013 in Berlin.

Winners of the Innovation Prize for Climate and Environment in Berlin where they received their awards © IKU/Kruppa

Chaired by the former German Minister for the Environment, Prof. Klaus Töpfer, the high-level jury selected winners for the five categories from nearly 100 entries.

Joint project Daimler AG and the Gebr, Heller Maschinenfabrik GmbH won in the Process Innovations for Climate Protection category for their development of a world novel, patented method of coating cylinder surfaces in aluminium, reducing CO2 emissions.

Product and Service Innovations for Climate Protection was awarded to the Leibinger GmbH for its new method of bottling carbonated and oxygen- sensitive beverages in bottles.

Evonik Industries AG and SEPURAN ® Green both won in the Environmentally Friendly Technologies category.

Saint-Gobain Weber GmbH was awarded the Eco-friendly products and services prize for an innovative finishing coat which protects facades with a moisture balance against fungal and algae growth and groundwater from biocides.

Two entries won in the category of Technology Transfer for their innovative improvements to care in developing countries: The AUTARCON GmbH convinced the jury with the development of SuMeWa | SYSTEMS and OSRAM won with the development of the “Off-Grid Lighting Concepts, ”which allows access to efficient and safe lighting in remote parts of Kenya with the help of rental and recharging stations.

More information about the winners of the IKU 2013 is available on

Focus On: Greece

Pieterjan RobijnAs Greece continues to work towards economic recovery, its current Presidency of the Council of the European Union focuses on a number of priority areas, including the promotion of policies and actions for achieving growth, combating unemployment, promoting economic and social cohesion and structural reforms.

According to the Greek National Strategic Framework for Research and Innovation 2014-2020, expenditure on innovation is expected to account for 8% of the total budget, and research will be primarily focused on selected priority areas, with ‘Environment’ being one of the key sectors, in line with the national strategic objective for Green Growth. It is therefore expected that funding available for eco-innovation and energy investments will see a reasonable increase, stimulated to a large extent by the allocation of European Structural Funds.

As indicated in the recent Eco-innovation Observatory country report, Greece has seen an improvement in company-level eco-innovation activities targeting energy and material efficiency improvements. Other dynamic areas of green investment include the food sector (and in particular olive oil and wine production), chemical industry, waste management and the green tourism industry.

For more information on Greek environmental priorities please refer to

Coordinator Catch Up: Bulgaria

We caught up with National Coordinator Gaby Marinova to find out how the national nominees for the European Business Awards for the Environment are selected in Bulgaria.

Pieterjan RobijnCould you set the scene for us a little and explain how your national awards work? 

BBLF’s 2013 Responsible Business Awards were granted at a formal ceremony at Sofia Hotel Balkan on 25 February. Official guests of the ceremony were Minister of Labour and Social Policy, Deputy Minister of Economy and Energy, Deputy Minister of Education and Science and the Mayor of Sofia.

What kind of companies entered your awards? 

The BBLF awards are a national competition and companies of all sizes or sectors can nominate their projects. The aim of the Annual Responsible Business Awards is to encourage the responsible behaviour of companies by indicating that successful and sustainable companies invest in community projects too as well as to highlight the best practices.

Who attended the awards ceremony? 

Over 300 guests: senior business representatives, public figures, diplomats and media attended the ceremony and were the first to know which projects were deemed the best ones and congratulated the winners.

How do you promote the awards? 

We promoted the awards on our corporate FacebookLinkedIn and Twitter profiles at several stages: upon opening the nomination process, extending the deadline for it and the award ceremony itself. We believe we were thus able to reach audiences that would have remained under our radar. It resulted in an increased awareness of both the contest (manifested in the greater number of participants) and the award ceremony.

How were applicants different from last year’s? 

An all-time high record number of companies entered the 11th edition of this country’s most prestigious CSR contest: 56 companies or 10% more than the previous year submitted their nominations for the awards. We have witnessed a rise of 300% in CSR efforts of businesses ever since the launch of the awards in 2003. An equal number of members and non-members entered the contest this year and projects implemented across the country were nominated.

How do the national awards and ceremony contribute to the business community in Bulgaria?

Corporate responsibility projects are a long-term investment that guarantees sustainability and provides a stable basis for future development. A decade ago there were few companies that implemented CSR projects, whereas today most companies, both international and Bulgarian ones, are involved in community projects in one way or another. Good causes do make waves and are a clear sign of maturity of the entire community.

Where Are They Now? Sotral

Distribution logistics provider for public food services Sotral won the Management category in 2006 for their project “Management for Eco-efficiency in Public Catering.” We found out how it has impacted their business since winning the award.

In 2003 this Italian company identified environmental innovation as a level for competitiveness, leading to the adoption of their Life Cycle Thinking, a philosophy that runs through every business decision they make.

Speaking about the EBAE, Isabelle Lacourt of Sotral said: “The award has given a small company like Sotral the authoritativeness and therefore the legitimacy to pursue its commitment in sustainable development since 2006.

“The company has been able to make synergy between such visibility and a voluntary certification system. As a consequence the company's growth has shown a steady increase in sales from 2005 to 2011 based on the extension of the geographical area of activity. Now this SME is preparing to internationalize its business”.

Promotors Network Corner

A STEEEP increase in energy savings for SMEs

EUROCHAMBRES has launched a training programme to support 630 SMEs across Europe to achieve 10-15% energy savings.

Short for “Support and Training for Excellent Energy Efficiency Programme,” STEEEP will provide tailored training and guidance on effective energy management tools and practices for SMEs from various sectors.

The companies will learn to measure and consequently control energy costs more efficiently. In addition, an experienced academic partner will scientifically evaluate the potential for energy savings, set efficiency targets and monitor progress in reducing energy consumption.

The project is co-financed by the Intelligent Energy Europe Programme, and EUROCHAMBRES is coordinating it, with Chambers of Commerce and Industry from 10 different countries as partners. As many as 315 thematic workshops for SMEs will take place after the capacity building of national and regional Chambers.

STEEEP will contribute to the EU’s goal of increasing energy efficiency by 2020, while at the same time providing European SMEs with an opportunity to make substantial savings.

For more information, please contact EUROCHAMBRE (Ms Nicoletta Favaretto,

European Business Awards for the Environment | Newsletter

Issue #22, March 2014

To view this edition, please click here.

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Coordinator Catch Up

Every national European Business Awards for the Environment (EBAE) competition is different, so we interviewed Pieterjan Robijn, National Coordinator for Belgium, to find out more about the Belgian competition.

Pieterjan RobijnHow does your competition work?
Awarded by an independent jury every two years, the competition is an initiative of Business & Society Belgium. It is also supported by the Federation of Belgian Enterprises (FEB), RoulartaBNP Paribas FortisElia and Siemens.

Who attended the awards ceremony?
Our national awards were well attended, with around 100 attendees from the business world, academic centres, government representatives and media coming to champion our companies.
How do you promote the awards?
We were profiled in the widely read economic weekly Trends and the economic news channel Kanaal Z. In terms of promotion, we use our TwitterLinkedIn and Facebook pages, which enabled our business partners to share information with their contacts via email and their own websites.
How were applicants different from last year’s?
The jury was struck by the economic maturity of most applications. Sustainable development is no longer only about adaptations of technologies; of existing products or services, but how we see bold innovation, the investigation of new markets where developed projects show themselves as competitive compared to “conventional” equivalents. This is a significant advance over the period of the “green pioneers”.
And finally, what difference do you think it makes winning the European Business Awards for the Environment?
The national awards are not only a reward of sustainability initiatives, but also show the business community how creativity and willpower lead to new sustainability business models that are particularly competitive. 

Where Are They Now?

Winning a European Business Award for the Environment puts companies in the spotlight for their commitment to environmental sustainability, but it also helps push the business case for social and environmental responsibility. We caught up with the winner of the 2012 Product Award, Aquamarine Power, a company that has grown through its innovative approach and is now setting its sights on internationalising its client base.

Click for YouTube video: Aquamarine Power - Oyster wave farm animation Click for YouTube video: Aquamarine Power - Oyster wave farm animation
Aquamarine Power is a small company with a big ambition to create electricity from ocean waves. Their Oyster wave energy technology has the capability to capture the energy in near shore waves and transform it into clean power.

The Edinburgh-based firm has already succeeded in installing two full-scale Oyster wave energy machines at the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney, Scotland.
Their goal is now to commercialise the technology and develop ocean energy farms around the world.
“Winning a European Business Award for the Environment was a great highlight for our business,” says company Chief Executive Officer Martin McAdam. “We need to ensure policy makers and investors in Europe and around the world understand the incredible potential of ocean energy, and this high-profile award helped increase our impact in Brussels and beyond.” 

National Awards Ceremony

Congratulations to the winners of the 2013 Ibec Environment Awards, the national awards for Ireland. With over 50 applications, the chairman of judges released the names of four extraordinary companies in a prestigious awards ceremony on 29 November. They will now go on to represent Ireland in the 2014 European awards programme.

(left to right: Martin Cooney, Arthur Cox; Declan Crosse, Wood Energy Solutions; Danny McCoy, Ibec; Charlie Coakley, Dawn Meats; Minister Phil Hogan, T. D.; Louis Collins, Astellas)(left to right: Martin Cooney, Arthur Cox; Declan Crosse, Wood Energy Solutions; Danny McCoy, Ibec; Charlie Coakley, Dawn Meats; Minister Phil Hogan, T. D.; Louis Collins, Astellas)
The winners were: Astellas Ireland, Winner of the Overall Environmental Excellence Award and Environmental Management Award, Wood Energy Solutions, Winner of the Product and Services Award, Dawn Meats, Winner of the Process Award and finally, Arthur Cox, Winner of the International Business Cooperation Award.

Announcing the winners at the event, Ireland’s Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan said: “The Ibec Environment Awards are about acknowledging and championing progressive organisations in Ireland that have demonstrated a commitment to protecting and improving our environment.  I’d like to acknowledge the efforts of all of the participants and thank them for their individual contributions towards a healthy and sustainable environment.”   
Connect with Ibec on Twitter or Linkedin.

What's Trending

Horizon 2020

The new European Union (EU) financial instrument for research and innovation, Horizon 2020, will be officially launched in January 2014, but the first funding calls are already being announced today (11 December 2013). Running from 2014 to 2020 with a budget of €80 billion, Horizon 2020 will focus on securing Europe's global competitiveness and sustainable growth. Built on three pillars – Excellent Science, Industrial Leadership and Societal Challenges – Horizon 2020 will fund activities ranging from frontier science to close-to-market innovation. The environmental objectives of Horizon 2020 follow the EU's focus on securing sustainable and competitive growth, with a particular emphasis on bioeconomy and circular economy opportunities. Speaking to an audience in Sweden via video message on 3 December 2013, the European Commissioner for Environment, Janez Potočnik reiterated that 'Boosting sustainable, resource-efficient, low-carbon growth will remain one of the Commission's priorities for the next 7 years and we will continue to support this through our policies and funding initiatives'. The EU focus on encouraging and supporting green growth through sustainable and environmentally responsible management approaches, and eco-innovative products and processes is reflected in all three pillars of Horizon 2020, and in particular in the objectives of Societal Challenge 5 - Climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials. Funding will be provided to projects helping to achieve resource and water efficiency, sustainable supply and use of raw materials, encouraging protection and sustainable management of natural resources and ecosystems, and contributing to building a climate change resilient economy and society. Funding opportunities for renewable energy and energy efficiency feature in the Secure, clean and efficient Energy Societal Challenge. For more information please click here.

The new LIFE

The new Programme for the Environment and Climate Action – LIFE is proposed to have a budget of €3.2 billion over 2014-2020. The new LIFE Programme is the single biggest funding mechanism for biodiversity protection, environment and climate change actions outside Horizon 2020, and it is a successor to the existing LIFE+ Programme. The first funding call is expected to be launched in late Spring 2014. For more information please click here.  

Let's Clean Up Europe

Preparations began following an announcement made by the European Commissioner for Environment, Janez Potočnik, for a new initiative ‘Let’s Clean Up Europe’, which will take place across Europe on 10th May 2014. The initiative aims to raise awareness and mobilise a wider society, businesses and non-governmental organisations to do something practical for the environment. For more information and to register your clean up initiative please click here.

Focus On: Lithuania

As Lithuania's EU Presidency is coming to an end, the Member State is reflecting on its achievements of the past six months.

One of the key environmental milestones was the new multilateral environmental agreement - Minamata Convention - on mercury, which the Lithuanian Minister of Environment, Valentinas Mazuronis, and the European Commissioner for Environment, Janez Potočnik, signed on behalf of the EU. The long-awaited agreement will result in subsequent decrease of mercury emissions and the impact thereof on human health and the environment. 

For a country with relatively limited natural resources but a great potential for competitive technology and dynamic manufacturing sector, eco-innovative processes and products can offer a significant advantage and opportunity. According to a study conducted by the European Eco-innovation Observatory, Lithuanian sectors such as renewable energy, construction, waste management, transport and logistics, and oil spill remediation are expected to see growth, both as a result of capable and efficient use of European Structural funding but also the country’s own investment and strategy efforts, and in particular the Cleaner Production Strategy.
Lithuania is also an active participant in the European Framework Programme 7, the LIFE programme, and the Eco-innovation Programme. Over the last eight years, Lithuania has participated in a number of LIFE funded projects focusing on nature conservation and biodiversity protection, and some of its Eco-innovation programme funded projects focus on marine litter, and waste reduction in the fish farming and fishing industry.

Upcoming events

22 – 24 January, 2014

Salzburg, Austria

13th International Electronics Recycling Congress IERC 2014
The IERC is an international platform for discussion of the latest developments and challenges relating to electronics recycling.

26 – 29 January, 2014

Copenhagen, Denmark

FRESH and European Sustainable Events Conference 2014
The European Green Capital 2014 Copenhagen is hosting the FRESH and European Sustainable Events Conference (ESEC) at the beginning of 2014.

20 – 21 February, 2014

Brussels, Belgium

Conference on Products Policy – International Trends in Ecodesign & Energy labelling The EU is organising an international conference on ecodesign and energy labelling featuring keynote speakers from government, industry, civil society and the European Commission.

24 – 25 February, 2014

Bremen, Germany

International Conference on Regional Climate Adaptation and Resilience towards Climate Adapted and Resilient Regions 2014
The two-day event will be hosted by “nordwest2050”, a practice-oriented research project aiming at increasing the ability of the Metropolitan Area Bremen-Oldenburg to deal with climate change in selected fields and to implement measures into regional planning and development processes.

26 – 28 February, 2014

Wels, Austria

World Sustainable Energy Days 2014 International Conference
The international experts and key-note speakers present at WSED 2014 will discuss the latest updates, and challenges that still exist, in tackling issues such as renewable energy; energy efficiency in buildings and transport; pellets; efficient and sustainable buildings; sustainable energy technologies; and policies and programmes.

5 – 7 March, 2014

Sofia, Bulgaria

South-East European Exhibition on Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Looking at world trends, the 10th exhibition presents the latest energy efficient solutions, systems for energy storage, technologies for the production of bio-, hydro, solar, geothermal and wind energy, energy from waste and electric vehicle innovation.

European Business Awards for the Environment | Newsletter

Issue #21, December 2013

To view this edition, please click here.

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