ClusterThe Cluster SPRING was born on the initiative of Biochemtex, Novamont e Versalis, three companies that have distinguished themselves in the development of highly innovative technologies and processes and for the realization of products from renewable sources, and of Federchimica, which represents the entire Italian chemical industry and its vocation to sustainability.
The members of SPRING – formally established as an Association – are all realities operating in different ways in the field of bioeconomy and representing the entire Italian value-chain of “green chemistry”, from agriculture to research in the field of chemistry from renewable sources and industrial biotechnologies, to the processing of materials and bioproducts, to industrial transformation and finally to the disposal phase. This ensures a multi-sectoral approach which is fundamental for the development of the sector.
Among the Cluster members there are large industry players, SMEs, and all the main Italian public research organizations working in the field of transformation and collection of biomass. In addition, there are many subjects active in the field of technology transfer and environmental communication – regional innovation clusters, technology parks, consortia, trade and local associations, development agencies, foundations all relevant stakeholders for the diffusion, over the medium and long-term, of SPRING activities and initiatives.
Why SPRING?The acronym SPRING evokes the concepts of Rise, New Beginning, Push for Growth: the Cluster wants to be a stimulus for sustainable innovation, a spring for development and for a systemic growth focused on bioeconomy. An initiative that evolves in constant dialogue with the actors of local areas, in full respect of biodiversity.
BackgroundThe constitution of National Technological Clusters was promoted by the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research, in order to identify realities – organized groups of companies, universities, public or private research institutions and bodies active in the field of innovation, in different geographical areas, with an interdisciplinary and international value – and that could act as engines for the sustainable economic growth of local areas and of the entire national economy system, in line with the EC strategic agendas and the objectives of Horizon 2020, the European Programme for Research and Innovation for 2014/2020.
The areas identified by the Ministry were: Green Chemistry, Agrifood, Technology for Ambient assisted living, Life Sciences, Technologies for Smart Communities, Transport and mobility systems, Aerospace, Smart Factories and Energy, which led to the activation of eight different clusters. In December 2012, the Cluster SPRING was officially recognized by the Ministry as the entity appointed to represent the field of Green Chemistry.
Biochemtex, a company belonging to the group M&G, is a global leader in the development and engineering of technologies and biochemical processes based only on the use of non-food biomass as an alternative to fossil resources such as oil. In collaboration with Beta Renewables, it has developed technologies and plants for the production of bioethanol and other chemicals. Its headquartered is located in Tortona (AL), with dedicated Research Centers.
Federchimica is the National Federation of Chemical Industry and is located in Milan. At present it counts around 1,400 companies among its members, for a total of 90,000 employees, grouped into 17 trade associations and 40 commodity groups. Federchimica is part of Confindustria and, in Europe, of CEFIC, the European Chemical Industry Council, and of ECEG (European Chemical Employers Group). It is one of the Cluster’s founding member because of the strong interest in the chemistry from biomass (biorefineries) and related biotechnology.
Novamont is an industrial company based in Novara, active since 1989. Born as a Montedison research center with the ambitious goal of integrating chemistry, environment and agriculture, it is today a world leader in the field of bioplastics from renewable sources. From the beginning of its activity Novamont has significantly contributed to the creation of a new industrial policy capable of combining the demands of development with sustainability, thanks to the use of renewable sources for the production of bioplastics for low environmental-impact applications. Novamont mission consists in developing materials and biochemicals by activating biorefineries integrated in the local areas and providing application solutions that could ensure an efficient use of resources all along the life cycle, with social, economic and environmental system-based benefits.
Versalis (Eni) is the largest Italian chemical company, and leader in the production of intermediates, polyethylene, styrene elastomers. It is engaged in the repositioning of its business with a focus on market-oriented product portfolio, the strengthening of research and licensing, and the international expansion. In the field of chemistry from renewable sources Versalis is present with Matrìca, JV with Novamont, for the realization of an integrated complex of green chemistry in Porto Torres (Sardinia); it has established a JV with Genomatica for the production of biobutadiene; it is in partnership with Yulex for the production of natural rubber from guayule and with Pirelli for a research project on the use of natural rubber from guayule in the production of tires. Versalis is also in partnership with Elevance Renewable Sciences for the production from vegetable oils in Porto Marghera; among other green projects, the agreement with MIT for bioisoprene can be mentioned. Versalis is also in partnership with Neville Venture for the production of hydrocarbon resins at the Priolo site.
In the international context, of particular importance is the partnership with the Malaysian multinational Petronas and the JV Lotte Versalis Elastomers, made with the Korean Lotte Chemical; both are aimed to the production and marketing of elastomers. Versalis is present in Asia with offices in Shanghai, seats of the subsidiary Eni Trading and Chemicals Versalis Pacific Trading.
The RegionsAt present eight Italian Regions – Basilicata, Emilia Romagna, Lombardia, Piemonte, Puglia, Sardegna, Umbria, Veneto – are committed to supporting the Cluster activities, reaffirming the consistency and functionality of their development strategies and their programming documents with the vision and goals of the Association, as well as their willingness to continue in this direction by endorsing activities in support of the development and enhancement of the Cluster.
In order to facilitate regular reciprocal exchange, a Standing Working Group has recently been established among the representatives of these Regions and SPRING. The Standing Working Group is intended as a common platform to enable the definition of coordinated and shared positions and possible lines of intervention related to technological innovation, inter-regional collaboration, to the development of policies and strategies, as well as to the access to regional or multi-regional programmes co-financed at a national level and which fall within a uniform Italian strategy, to the pooling of instruments and case-studies of excellence and to training activities and incentives for local employment in the Green Jobs sector.
Besides, among the Public Administrations that have shown their interest in SPRING there’s the Provincial Administration of Novara.
The Cluster aims to activate an extended cooperation network with all the administrations concerned by the initiative, in order to generate positive impacts in the local areas and to encourage the widest development of coordinated strategies at a national and local level.