According to a recent report of the European Commission, investment in SMEs working in the area of environmentally innovative technologies is producing above-average returns, while all creating valuable jobs and also alleviating relevant environmental impacts.

The performance of young SMEs funded in 2011-2012 under the Eco-Innovation component of the EU’s Competitiveness and Innovation Programme (CIP) have shown very impressive results.

The new report, “Analysing and Reporting the Results Achieved by the CIP Eco-Innovation Market Replication Projects”, has been commissioned by the Executive Agency for Competitiveness and Innovation (EACI) on behalf of EU DG Environment and undertaken by ICF GHK.


The investment of EU Eco-Innovation Funds has shown a 20-fold return – every euro invested has resulted in 20 euros for its beneficiaries. Furthermore, each project supported has generated an additional 8 permanent full-time jobs.

This latest study demonstrates that sustainable business, job creation and environmental protection can go together and generate widespread benefits. Moreover, this report suggests that Europe has a strong niche in the green industry, which can promote competitive, resource-efficient and sustainable growth.

Eco-Innovation is a green strand of the CIP and contributes to the Eco-Innovation Action Plan (EcoAP). This program is managed by the Executive Agency for Competitiveness and Innovation (EACI).


The EU’s Eco-Innovation Funding focuses on five main sectors:

  1. Material Recycling;
  2. Water;
  3. Sustainable Building Products;
  4. Green Business;
  5. Food and Drink Industry (pure energy-efficiency investments are not covered).


More than 240 projects funded by the Eco-Innovation Scheme are already underway. These projects have been developed primarily by small businesses with innovative concepts needing early stage capital to realize their growth potential.

The Eco-Innovation Projects which received funding cover a wide range of sectors and activities, from omega-3 fatty acid production from algae to pollution-free leather production.


The following examples are just some of the best project funded by this EU Program:

  1. Optimizing technology to re-use old bricks: REBRICK
  2. Producing leather shoes that are free from harmful chemicals: TiLeather project
  3. Using CO2 to harness a natural source of Omega-3: Phobior Project
  4. A new technique for carpet manufacturing: EuroC2C Carpetchain Project


An analysis of the performance of the EU funded projects has also revealed substantial environmental benefits in the areas of water saving (170 million m3), equivalent to the annual water consumption of an EU city of 350.000 people.

The reduced greenhouse gas emissions (11.6 mt when including CO2 emissions decreased by energy savings), equal those from the yearly electricity use of 1.7m EU homes, and the 609.000 tonnes of reduced waste make up for the annual waste generation of an EU city of 125.000 people.


Converted into cash terms, the economic value of these environmental savings is put at more than EUR 800 million in five years.

In May, the EU Commission launched a call to select new 45 eco-innovation projects with novel environmental solutions who will benefit from an investment budget of EUR 31.5m.

Eco-Innovation in the EU is funded via the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) and has a budget of approximately EUR 200 million for the period 2008 to 2013. It supports technologically-proven solutions (products, processes, technologies) that can help make better use of Europe’s natural resources.


Information Source: European Commission, DG Environment.


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