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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 18 December 2012

Environment: €40 million for innovations in water

An important step was taken today in developing solutions for the major challenges Europe faces in managing water. The Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP) adopted by the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) on Water, chaired by Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik sets out priority areas where solutions are needed. Action Groups will now draw up tools and mechanisms to promote innovations in water policies and technologies. 40 million euros of research funding will be made available in 2013 to support projects that contribute to the aims of the EIP Water.

Janez Potočnik, European Commissioner for the Environment, said "We need innovation to solve our water challenges, and to help deliver on the objectives of the Blueprint to Safeguard Europe's Water Resources that we recently adopted. The Water Innovation Partnership brings together the private and public actors who can take ideas to the market. Implementing the Strategic Implementation Plan will not only ensure that enough good quality water is available to meet the needs of people, the economy and the environment, it will also strengthen the European water industry on the global market which is expected to double by 2030."

The Partnership brings together actors from sectors including the water industry, SMEs, the research community, local governments, major water users and finance, to speed the development and uptake of innovative solutions to water challenges in Europe and beyond.

The European Innovation Partnership on Water was set up to "Identify, test, scale up, disseminate and deploy innovative solutions for 10 major water related challenges" by 2020. Five priority areas have now been chosen:

  • Water reuse and recycling

  • Water and wastewater treatment

  • Water and energy

  • Risk management of water related extreme events

  • Ecosystem services

These priorities focus on challenges and opportunities in the water sector, and on innovative actions that will deliver the highest impact. Water governance, management models and monitoring, and financing for innovation have been identified as cross-cutting priorities that affect the framework conditions, promote connections between the different priority areas of work, and are enablers for all other actions. Smart technologies are another enabling factor within all other priorities.

The 40 million euros from the 7th Framework Programme for Research is for projects that contribute to the aims of the EIP Water. A call for proposals is now open, closing on 4 April 2013 (http://cordis.europa.eu/fetch?CALLER=FP7_NEWS&ACTION=D&RCN=34831). An information day for potential applicants will be organised in Brussels on 15 January 2013 by DG Research and Innovation.

A call for expressions of commitment to the EIP Water Action Groups is also open to stakeholders: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/water/innovationpartnership/index_en.htm

Next steps

The Task Force for the EIP Water will define concrete targets and milestones for the activities, presented in the SIP, at the beginning of 2013. The Call for expression of commitment to the Action Groups is expected to be closed in April 2013.

Background

The world water market is growing rapidly, and estimated to reach 1 trillion USD by 2020. European water-related sectors operate worldwide in developing innovative water solutions, but often fail to reach their full economic potential. Eliminating the obstacles for market breakthroughs and promoting Europe's comparative advantages in the innovation value chain will help companies bring their solutions to the market. Unlocking the innovation potential in the field of water management could significantly contribute to job creation and competitiveness: a 1 % increase of the rate of growth of the water industry in Europe could create up to 20,000 new jobs.

European Innovation Partnerships, proposed by the Europe 2020 Innovation Union flagship initiative, aim to speed up innovations that contribute to solving societal challenges, enhance Europe's competitiveness and contribute to job creation and economic growth. EIPs pool expertise and resources, connecting the supply and demand for innovation, and bringing together public and private actors at EU, national and regional level. The Water EIP (see IP/12/470) centres around removing barriers to innovation, connecting supply and demand for water-related innovations, creating dissemination strategies for proven solutions and support market acceleration of innovations.

The Water EIP is linked to the Europe 2020 Resource efficient Europe flagship initiative which underlines the importance of the sustainable management of water. It will build on the Eco-Innovation Action Plan, which focuses on boosting innovations that reduce pressure on the environment and on bridging the gap between innovation and the market. Innovation is also identified as a key tool to support the policy options developed by the Blueprint to protect Europe's water resources – the EU’s response to the vulnerability of the water environment – adopted by the European Commission in November 2012.

For more information:

Conclusions and composition of the EIP on Water Steering Group and more background information on the EIP on Water can be found on:

http://ec.europa.eu/environment/water/innovationpartnership/index_en.htm

Contacts :

Joe Hennon (+32 2 295 35 93)

Monica Westeren (+32 2 299 18 30)


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