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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 31 May 2013

Eco-innovation: EU-funded SMEs demonstrate job creation and green growth

Investment in SMEs working in the area of environmentally innovative technologies is producing above average returns, creating valuable jobs and also alleviating environmental impacts, according to a new report. The performance of young SMEs funded over the past two years under the eco-innovation component of the EU’s Competitiveness and Innovation Programme (CIP) has been analysed and shows impressive results. The investment of EU eco-innovation funds shows a 20-fold return - every euro invested has resulted in 20 euros for its beneficiaries. Furthermore each project supported has generated an additional 8 permanent full-time jobs.

European Commissioner for the Environment Janez Potočnik said: "The new study demonstrates that good business, job creation and environmental protection can go together and generate widespread benefits. This suggests that Europe has a strong niche in the green business, a niche which can promote competitive, resource-efficient and sustainable growth."

The EU's Eco-innovation funding focuses on five main sectors: material recycling; water; sustainable building products; green business; the food and drink sector (pure energy efficiency investments are not covered).

More than 240 projects funded by the eco-innovation scheme are already underway. The projects have been developed primarily by small businesses with innovative concepts needing early stage capital to realise their growth potential.

The eco-innovation projects which have received funding cover a wide range of sectors and activities from omega 3 fatty acid production from algae, to pollution-free leather production.

An analysis of the performance of the EU funded projects also reveal substantial 'green' benefits in the areas of water saving (170 million m3), equivalent to the annual water consumption of an EU city of 350.000 people. The reduced greenhouse gas emissions (11.6 mt when including CO2 emissions reduced by energy savings), equal those from the annual electricity use of 1.7m EU homes, and the 609.000 tonnes of reduced waste make up for the annual waste generation of an EU city of 125.000 people.

Converted into cash terms, the value of these environmental savings is put at more than EUR 800 million in 5 years.

In May the European Commission launched a new call to select a further 45 eco-innovation projects with novel environmental solutions who will benefit from an investment budget of EUR 31.5 million.


Eco-Innovation is funded via the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) and has a budget of approximately EUR 200 million for the period 2008 to 2013. It supports technologically-proven solutions (products, processes, technologies) that help make better use of Europe's natural resources. Eco-Innovation is a green strand of the CIP and contributes to the Eco-Innovation Action Plan (EcoAP). The programme is managed by the Executive Agency for Competitiveness and Innovation (EACI).


Executive summary to the Report: “Analysing and reporting the results achieved by the CIP Eco-innovation market replication projects” commissioned by the Executive Agency for Competitiveness and Innovation (EACI) on behalf of DG Environment. Undertaken by ICF GHK:

CIP eco-innovation initiative:

Follow us on Twitter: @EU_ecoinno

Project examples:

Contacts :

At the Executive Agency for Competitiveness and Innovation (EACI):

Hussein Sattaf (+32 2 299 64 23)

At the European Commission:

Joe Hennon (+32 2 295 35 93)

Monica Westeren (+32 2 299 18 30)

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