Why the EU supports advanced materials
Materials touch every aspect of human life. They impact the environment, society and economy. It's no coincidence that the ages of civilisation refer to materials.
Advanced materials generally mean materials that have novel or enhanced properties that improve performance over conventional products and processes.
They can boost the transition to greener technologies, with improved characteristics and enhanced performance, contributing to a more sustainable future.
People benefit from new products, or novel health applications, and from reduced environmental impacts.
Advanced materials also provide a competitive edge to European industry and to the European economy as a whole, creating jobs.
EU support for innovation in this area
The EU supports innovation for the design, development, testing, and upscaling of advanced materials to enable a vast array of applications and facilitate innovators to bring their disruptive ideas to the market.
It does so by focusing on
- the life cycle of materials, from extracting raw materials to the production process, from upscaling to the end-of-life
- demonstration and prototyping activities in different fields (e.g. energy, chemicals, cultural heritage, mobility, construction, nanotechnologies, medical technologies) and in different cross-sectorial domains (e.g. catalysis, modelling, characterisation, nanosafety)
- testing and upscaling of innovations, under Horizon 2020, the EU's main research funding programme, the Commission invested €465 million in supporting over 80 technology infrastructures
- characterisation and modelling methods, as well as tools with a data driven approach are supported with the aim to develop safe materials as well as to reduce the costs, the use of materials, and the time-to-market
Sustainable-by-Design approach: towards a sustainable future
Sustainable-by-design is an approach that aims to deliver a major change in how we make sustainable and healthy products and materials.
It's a systemic approach to integrate safety, circularity and functionality of products and processes throughout their lifecycle, from design to end of life (also considering the possibility to recycle, reuse or repurpose them).
The integration of sustainable-by-design approach in research and innovation will lead to safer, circular, and functional products and materials on the market and contribute to the European Green Deal.
Sustainable-by-design approach represents a key element of the EU Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability. It will support the zero pollution ambition for a toxic-free environment announced in the European Green Deal.
Want to learn more about Sustainable-by-design approach? The recording of the European Research and Innovation days 2020 session on ‘Sustainability-by-Design’ highlights how we can shape together a safe, carbon-neutral and resource efficient industrial eco-system. Find the answers to questions received during the session
Green deal materials boxes
The Green Deal Material boxes show how research shapes our future world. Each box contains items, representing novel advanced materials, with samples and explanations and one experiment to be performed. This box is created to give an idea of what materials science and engineering can achieve and demonstrate that science can also be fun.
Responsible development of nanotechnologies
On the very small nano-scale, the properties of materials can be different from those on a larger scale. This may raise questions on the safety of nanomaterials.
The European Commission actions in this field aim to understand the properties and characteristics of nanomaterials through the work of the
- European Union Observatory for Nanomaterials (EUON)
- the EU NanoSafety Cluster
- OECD on nanotechnologies and risk assessment spearheading a global initiative with the called the Malta Initiative