The eco-innovation initiative bridges the gap between research and the market. It helps good ideas for innovative products, services and processes that protect the environment become fully-fledged commercial prospects, ready for use by business and industry. In doing so the initiative not only helps the EU meet its environmental objectives but also boosts economic growth.
A five-pronged attack
Eco-innovation is about reducing our environmental impact and making better use of resources. This means developing products, techniques, services and processes that reduce CO2 emissions, use resources efficiently, promote recycling and so on. There are five main strands to this initiative:
- Materials recycling and recycling processes;
- Sustainable building products;
- Food and drink sector;
- Water efficiency, treatment and distribution;
- Greening business.
The EU is looking to maximise the impact of Eco-innovation and make every euro go as far as possible. The best Eco-innovation projects are those that can be replicated across the EU.
Eco-innovation projects are not research projects. The ideas must be developed, feasible and also viable in the long-term to qualify for funding.
Putting the EU in the driving seat
Eco-innovation represents a key opportunity to establish Europe's leading role in overcoming the world's sustainability challenges while making Europe's economy even stronger and more competitive. The world market of environmental products and services is growing. According to an OECD study, goods and services provided by eco-industries are estimated to represent around 2.5 % of the EU GDP.
The initiative contributes to the implementation of the Eco-innovation Action Plan (EcoAP) that seeks to boost environmental technologies while strengthening economic growth and competitiveness.
SMEs play a major role in this regard. This is why priority is given to projects presented by small firms.
Managing the initiative
The Eco-innovation initiative is managed by the Executive Agency for Competitiveness and Innovation (EASME) in close cooperation with the European Commission's Environment Directorate-General. It forms part of the EU's Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP).