Key messages: 190 EU-funded projects, coming from four funding programmes throughout a 19-month time frame, were identified as relevant research and innovation (R&I) projects on safe and sustainable chemicals and materials, attracting over EUR 1 billion in EU funding. Most of the active projects are associated with R&I on safe and sustainable production processes and technologies, and chemicals and materials that are safe and sustainable by design. Education and business are the most prominent secondary affiliations. The European Commission advocates a joint effort for a more comprehensive picture and informed monitoring of funding programmes relevant to R&I in safe and sustainable chemicals and materials through e.g. Member State initiatives. 

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A European Commission report from September 2023 surveyed the funding landscape of European projects in research and innovation on safe and sustainable chemicals and materials. It identified projects linked to the Strategic Research and Innovation Plan (SRIP) for safe and sustainable chemicals and materials in the period March 2021 to September 2022. The plan is in action under the EU's Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability (CSS).   

The chapters of the SRIP report were used as categories to assign identified projects to. The categories are safe and sustainable by design chemicals and materials; safe and sustainable production processes and technologies; exposure; hazard assessment; risk assessment; decontamination/remediating pollution; and cross-cutting aspects. The latter category includes data, validation and standardisation, business and education.  

An automatic text-mining process and assessment by data scientists were used to assign the final portfolio of 190 EU-funded R&I projects to the different categories, and to quality check the assignments. The projects attracted over EUR 1 billion in EU funding. Most of the identified projects are associated with more than one of the report’s chapters. This indicator focuses on lead categories and secondary affiliations i.e., categories to which the projects were linked but which were not the predominant one.  

Bearing in mind the model’s constraints, the lead categories are predominantly associated with safe and sustainable production, processes and technologies, and chemicals and materials that are safe and sustainable by design. Education is also prominent as a lead category. Far fewer projects are related to exposure (monitoring and modelling), decontamination and pollution remediation, and data and business for the cross-cutting aspects. The secondary affiliations with the two predominant categories highlight substantial links to cross-cutting aspects (mainly business, education, validation and standardisation).  

The equilibrium is similar for funding. The Partnership for the Assessment of Risks from Chemicals (PARC), a notable exception, currently includes over 60 projects. It has an EU contribution of EUR 200 million and an overall budget of EUR 400 million over seven years primarily allocated to the risk assessment category. It should be noted, however, that many projects may aim to cover areas of the least-represented SRIP chapters, such as hazard assessment, risk assessment, and validation and standardisation — important enabling aspects identified in the SRIP. 

The European Commission published the SRIP for safe and sustainable chemicals and materials in September 2022. The SRIP identified R&I needs across the lifecycle of chemicals and materials to increase their safety and sustainability in line with the EU Green Deal objectives.  

The funding landscape report presented here establishes a methodology to monitor the R&I funding landscape towards successfully implementing the SRIP in the coming years. It also offers a baseline to assess funding gaps and to guide future funding and investment decisions. The methodology can also be reused to enable national and regional funding bodies to carry out similar steps to evaluate their contributions to implementing the SRIP.  

From March 2021 to September 2022, around 12,000 projects were funded through five programmes, namely Horizon Europe, Digital Europe, ERASMUS+, the Innovation Fund and the LIFE programme. The report takes a final snapshot of 190 ongoing projects representing an EU contribution of nearly EUR 1.06 billion. This doesn’t include Digital Europe, for which no projects were identified as relevant to the SRIP.  

The report also describes the methodology used. This can serve as reference for potential future analyses. The project used the European Commission’s text mining tool, CORTEX, followed by an assessment of the results by expert groups composed of data scientists to confirm the assignment of projects to various SRIP chapters and to eliminate false positive/negative assignments. 

References and footnotes

  1. EC, 2023, Funding landscape of European projects : Strategic Research and Innovation Plan (SRIP) for safe and sustainable chemicals and materials, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg (