Commission Proposes Comprehensive Strategy to Boost European Industrial Leadership in Advanced Materials

The Commission has unveiled a comprehensive strategy today in a significant move aimed at bolstering European industrial prowess in advanced materials. Termed the “Communication on Advanced Materials for Industrial Leadership,” this initiative marks a pivotal step towards fostering EU dominance in a critical technology sector vital for green and digital transitions. With a focus on aligning research and innovation priorities and investments, the strategy aims to position Europe at the forefront of advanced materials development, setting the stage for collaborative action.

Advanced materials, characterised by their intentional design and engineered properties, hold immense promise across various sectors, including energy, electronics, construction, and mobility. Recognising their pivotal role in driving innovation, the strategy underscores the necessity for concerted efforts to propel Europe’s competitiveness. The burgeoning demand for advanced materials, spanning renewable energy, zero-emission buildings, semiconductors, healthcare, aerospace, and defence, underscores the urgency of strategic interventions.

At its core, the strategy endeavours to fortify the EU’s long-term competitiveness by nurturing an ecosystem conducive to research, innovation, and deploying advanced materials. It aims to cultivate innovation hubs while fostering collaboration between industry players, Member States, and key stakeholders. To achieve this, the strategy delineates five main pillars:

  1. Strengthening the European Research & Innovation Ecosystem: By fostering collaboration and prioritising research areas crucial for advanced materials development.

 

  1. Fast-tracking Innovation to Market: This involves the establishment of a “materials commons,” a digital infrastructure facilitating accelerated research and development of advanced materials leveraging AI.

 

  1. Increasing Capital Investment and Access to Financing: A new partnership under Horizon Europe aims to mobilise €500 million of investments, with substantial contributions from private sources.

 

  1. Fostering Production and Use: Measures include procurement for innovation and launching an Advanced Materials Academy to equip the European workforce with requisite skills.

 

  1. Creating a Technology Council: This advisory body will steer the initiative, providing strategic guidance in collaboration with Member States and industry.

The backdrop to this initiative is Europe’s strong foundation in advanced materials, exemplified by groundbreaking innovations such as graphene. However, continuous innovation is imperative to maintain technological sovereignty and strategic autonomy. The EU’s robust support through R&I Framework programmes has been instrumental in advancing materials science, with initiatives like the Graphene Flagship showcasing Europe’s leadership.

The genesis of this strategy can be traced back to the Materials 2030 Manifesto in February 2022, where key stakeholders called for a strategic roadmap to bolster R&I efforts in advanced materials. Following extensive consultations, the current Communication not only addresses R&I needs but also underscores efforts to strengthen production, use, and uptake of advanced materials.

As Europe charts its course towards industrial leadership in advanced materials, this initiative signifies a resolute commitment to innovation, sustainability, and economic prosperity in the digital age. Through collaborative action and strategic investments, Europe is poised to emerge as a global leader in this critical technology sector, driving the twin transitions towards a greener and more digitally resilient future.

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