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. An example is the Open Innovation Test Beds (see the Infographic) which facilitate common access to physical facilities, capabilities and services for organisations working across a range of technologies. Some of them contribute also to the New Bauhaus initiative by providing SME’s the access to physical testing environment, digital twin services and energy efficiency modelling.
  • 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.


Sustainable-by-Design approach: towards a sustainable future
19 March 2021

The first stakeholders workshop on ‘Safe and Sustainable-by-Design’ criteria

22 September 2020

This "European Research and Innovation days 2020" session will help you learn more about Sustainable-by-design approach?


For further questions, please contact us at RTD-SUSTAINABLE-BY-DESIGN@ec.europa.eu

To register as stakeholder, receive news on the progress and invitations to future events please fill in this form.


Factsheet: European Sustainable-by-design approach and its key components on the example of plastics

Mapping study for the development of sustainable-by-design criteria

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


Outreach to Newcomers and Societal Engagement in Industrial Technologies

Code of Conduct for Responsible Nanosciences and Nanotechnologies Research