Update of BIG-Cluster Innovation Agenda

In a recently published report, the Bio Innovation Growth mega cluster (BIG-Cluster) uniting Flanders, the Netherlands and North-Rhine Westphalia (NRW) has announced it is updating its common innovation agenda to better tackle the challenges faced by the bioeconomy in Northwestern Europe.

EU’s chemical powerhouse
Flanders, the Netherlands and NRW have been a powerhouse of industrial innovation in the chemistry sector for decades. By leveraging institutional, infrastructural, macroeconomical and educational strenghts, this mega cluster in Northwestern Europe has become responsible for over half of the EU’s chemical turnover, substantially contributing to overall EU GDP.

Cross-border cooperation
To further strengthen this leading position, Catalisti and its cluster colleagues of BE-Basic in the Netherlands and CLIB in NRW established the BIG-Cluster in 2013. This cross-border cooperation initiative aims to transform Europe’s industrial mega cluster into the global leader of biobased innovation growth. Specifically, it seeks to improve regional competetiveness in the bioeconomy, safeguard jobs, and align the region with international sustainability goals.

Three key areas
In the past, the BIG-Cluster has identified three key areas for cross-border cooperation: “Aromatics and Fine Chemicals from Woody Biomass”, “Chemicals from CO and CO2” and “Aviation Fuels from Various Feedstocks”. These are all feedstock-to-product flagships that are of great importance to the European bioeconomy. Within these key areas, the goal of the mega cluster is to establish novel value chains, to comprehensively change feedstocks with a focus on regionally available biobased and sustainable raw materials, and to initiate demonstration plants for the production of chemicals and fuels based on sustainable resources, namely biomass and material streams from industrial waste gasses. To realize these objectives, industrial investments should be leveraged and combined with European and regional funds.

Update to common innovation agenda
According to the BIG-Cluster, an updated innovation agenda is necessary to better tackle the challenges faced by the bioeconomy in Northwestern Europe. In a recently published report, the BIG-Cluster summarizes topical developments in its three key areas of cooperation as a starting point for an updated common innovation agenda. For example, the report specifically references Catalisti’s BAFTA project and VITO’s LignoValue pilot project as enabling important innovations concerning lignocellulosic biomass. For more information on this updated agenda, please contact catalyst Tine Schaerlaekens, read the full report, or visit the BIG-Cluster website.

‘Protection for Heroes’ to produce up to 1.5M FFP2 masks per month

Starting this summer, the recently launched initiative ‘Bescherming voor Helden – Protection for Heroes’ seeks to produce up to 1.5 million FFP2 masks each month, here in Belgium. These masks will be vital in the ongoing fight against COVID-19. Catalisti is supporting the initiative by facilitating interaction with companies and knowledge centres.

FFP2 masks are an essential asset in the fight against COVID-19. They help protect our heroes: from doctors and nurses to police officers, retail staff and other service workers. The technical complexity of producing these high-quality masks, however, puts them out of reach of the many voluntary mask producing initiatives that are currently popping up. This why eight professionals, led by Antoine Schockaert, are founding ‘The Fair Production Company’. Starting in the summer of 2020, this Belgian non-profit organisation aims to produce 1 to 1.5 million FFP2 masks per month under the banner ‘Bescherming voor Helden – Protection for Heroes’.

Local production
The ‘Bescherming voor Helden – Protection for Heroes’ initiative strongly believes in the viability of locally producing personal protection equipment (PPE) in Belgium in a sustainable, cost efficient and social way. The initiative has joined forces with a French entrepreneur, Mr. Vianny Brillat, who has over 15 years of experience in producing FFP2 masks, with 5 relevant patents registered in his name.

essenscia and Catalisti
In order to reach its ambitious production goals, ‘Bescherming voor Helden – Protection for Heroes’ receives active support from essenscia, the sector federation of the Belgian chemical and life sciences industries, as well as from Catalisti. Both organisations support the initiative by facilitating interaction with companies and knowledge centres.

Find out more about the initiative: https://beschermingvoorhelden.be/en

“De toegevoegde waarde van onze sector wordt nog te vaak onderbelicht” – Jan Van Havenbergh in FOKUS Chemie

“Onze relatie met chemie is dubbel: enerzijds zorgt de sector voor tal van producten die ons leven gemakkelijker maken, anderzijds is het een van de meest vervuilende industrieën. Tel daarbij nog eens op dat de chemische sector voor heel wat werkgelegenheid zorgt, en je krijgt een duurzame uitdaging om U tegen te zeggen.”

In een interview met FOKUS Chemie geeft Jan Van Havenbergh, managing director van Catalisti, zijn kijk op de innovatie-aanpak van Catalisti, het Moonshot-initiatief, én de reputatie van de chemie- en kunststoffensector. Meer weten? Lees dan gratis het interview met Jan Van Havenbergh in FOKUS Chemie, gepubliceerd op 16/03/2020, of klik hier om de volledige bijlage door te nemen.

Jan Van Havenbergh FOKUS Chemie 20200316

AmCham EU praises Plant on a Truck project

In a recently published report, the American Chamber of Commerce to the European Union (AmCham EU) has listed Catalisti’s Plant on a Truck project as one of 15 innovative industry solutions that drive a sustainable future.

Finding an innovative solution…
The production of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) is a material-intensive activity, due to the volume of raw materials and chemicals used. In the past, these were difficult to discard. With Plant on a Truck, however, material loops can be closed and specific chemicals can be recycled in order to maintain their value. Specifically, Janssen Pharmaceutica uses the mobile plant, limited to three containers, to treat liquid waste streams from the production of canagliflozin (API of InvokanaTM) in a cost-effective and environmentally sustainable way. The plant enables extraction of the catalyst zinc and recycles it at a partnering metallurgy company, while the rest of the wastewater is treated at Janssen’s Geel site.

… to drive a sustainable future
By closing material loops through reuse and recycling, Plant on a Truck reduces manufacturing costs and avoids the production of waste. Indirect effects include reduced emissions of CO2 and road transport. Further assessments of Plant on a Truck are looking at treating additional waste streams, such as waste layers remaining from the production of abiraterone (API of Zytiga®).

To discover the other innovative solutions listed by AmCham EU, please read AmCham EU’s full report.

Agfa-Gevaert Wins 2019 EFCE Prize

The European Federation for Chemical Engineering (EFCE) has awarded Agfa-Gevaert with its 2019 EFCE Process Intensification Award for Industrial Innovation, sponsored by TechnipFMC. Agfa received this award for eliminating the use of liquid bromine, a dangerous toxic and volatile substance, in severals of its production processes. The company replaced bromine with flow technology, which is not only environment-friendly, but also much safer, cheaper and better scalable. This switch represents a breakthrough in pharmaceutics and fine chemistry. It was in part made possible thanks to Catalisti’s ATOM project.

More information about this breaktrough can be found in an article by NPT Magazine (in Dutch).


Atmospheric Plasma as Green Solution for Enhanced Adhesion and Functionalization

The PlasmaSol project will develop more innovative and sustainable adhesion and functionalization technologies for various materials through atmospheric plasma.

In the past, durable adhesion on a broad range of substrates has been achieved using conventional wet chemical surface treatments. These wet chemical surface treatments come with several ecological and health – related issues. It is well-known that solvent-based technologies are hazardous and highly flammable. However, also water-based processes, although being a safer alternative for solvent-based processes, come with ecological disadvantages. As such, a vast amount of waste water is generated, whereas the need for an additional drying step leads to a high energy consumption. Within the aim of reducing energy and (hazardous) chemical usage, atmospheric plasma technology is proposed as an eco-friendly alternative for surface activation and modification, while offering properties that are not always within the reach of conventional processes. Meanwhile, conventional process steps (i.e. cleaning steps, primer application) can be eliminated leading to reduced process time and energy- and chemical usage. This project focusses on plasma functionalization as a promising technology to improve adhesion, anti-bacterial and flame-retarding properties.

This project focusses on retrieving fundamental physical and chemical insights in plasma polymerisation and modification mechanisms as well as modelling of the plasma process. Considering its applicability in industrially relevant environments, the plasma reactor design will be optimized to obtain homogeneously deposited functionalized coatings. Furthermore, efforts will be taken to automize this new technology to make it industrially viable for a broad range of applications.

From Innovation to Business
With a broad range of industrial partners working together throughout the value chain and new fundamental insights and innovations in atmospheric plasma from the knowledge institutions, the PlasmaSol partners will maximize the potential to discover new industrial applications. This project is expected to finish in 2022. Project results will be announced on this page shortly afterwards.

Project Details
Project type: ICON
Approved on: 24/10/2019
Duration: 01/11/2019 – 31/10/2022
Total budget: €3.371.978
Subsidy: €2.325.748
Project Partners

Flemish government approves 12 Moonshot projects

The Flemish government has approved a first series of projects within the Moonshot initiative. In total, 9 cSBO and 3 LSI projects received support worth more than 18 million euro. With this support, Flemish universities and other research institutes can start working on breakthrough technologies and ground-breaking innovations to make Flemish industries carbon circular and low in CO2 by 2050.

The Flemish government has approved a first series of projects within the Flanders Industry Innovation Moonshot. In this ambitious industrial innovation programme hosted by Catalisti, Flemish universities, research institutes and industries join hands to develop breakthrough technologies by 2040 to create new climate-friendly processes and products. These new technologies will enable Flemish industries to become carbon circular and low in CO2 by 2050. This way, Flemish industries contribute to meeting Flanders’ European and international climate commitments.

It is a big responsibility to take the lead in in this ground-breaking research programme, in cooperation with research institutes, industries and other spearhead clusters. The Moonshot initiative is the start of a long tour of discovery with an uncertain outcome. That’s just the inherent risk in innovation. – Jan Van Havenbergh, managing director of Catalisti

The projects approved by the Flemish government include 9 cSBO projects and 3 LSI projects. cSBO (Strategic Basic Research for clusters) projects involve innovative research that tests disruptive ideas. This research is pursued through intensive collaboration between UGent, KULeuven, UAntwerpen, VUB, UHasselt, VITO and Centexbel. cSBO projects within the Moonshot initiative have a maximum duration of 18 months. LSI (Later Stage Innovation) projects, on the other hand, aim to accelerate research opportunities that have already proven their feasibility at low TRL. Each LSI project has a maximum duration of 36 months. All approved projects will kick off no later than April 2020.

In the meantime, Catalisti is already shaping the next series of Moonshot projects. From 2020 up to 2040, the Flemish government will invest 20 million euro in Moonshot projects every single year, totalling 400 million euro worth of support and translating climate ambition into action.

Check the full list of projects via:

Or read the press release by VLAIO (in Dutch) via:


Assessment of Microbial Protein Sources for Food and Feed

The goal of Prometheus, an intercluster project in collaboration with Flanders’ FOOD, is to deliver the proof-of-concept that microbial protein-rich biomass and by-products from citric acid production are fit for use as high-quality proteins in feed and food.

More information about this project will soon be provided on this page.

Project Details
Project type: ICON
Approved on: 12/12/2019
Duration: 1/03/2020 – 30/03/2022
Total budget: €1.880.692
Subsidy: €1.316.313
Project Partners


Controlled Release, Uptake and Enhanced (Bio-)Availability of Active Ingredients in Ruminant Feed and Fertilizers by Encapsulation

The Encaps2Control project sets out to develop a new and sustainable encapsulation technology for the controlled release of active ingredients in animal feed and organic fertilizers. This technology is based on biopolymers from renewable resources.

More information about this project will soon be provided on this page.

Project Details
Project type: ICON
Approved on: 12/12/2019
Duration: 31/12/2019 – 30/12/2022
Total budget: €3.698.711
Subsidy: €2.539.348
Project Partners