Skip to main content

Programme Category


Article available in the folowing languages:

Tapping into the potential of Industrial Symbiosis

Technology based innovations should prove the potential for novel symbiotic value chains in demonstrators involving multiple industrial sectors in real industrial settings. Proposals are expected to address e.g.:

  • Broader symbiosis, from local and regional perspectives, with infrastructures (e.g. waste and water management infrastructure, gas networks), communities and energy grids (e.g. smart operations scheduling, district heat integration), including distributed generation and the role that symbiosis can play in fluctuating energy grids (i.e. grid services, seasonal storage, biomass or heat pumps integration);
  • Management of side/waste streams (through e.g. capturing, purification, concentrating, sorting, collecting, exchanging or preparation) specifically for the use as resource for other plants and companies across sectors and/or across value chains;
  • Process (re-)design and implementation to integrate and adapt existing processes to enhance industrial symbiosis (energy and material flow coupling, infrastructure and logistics).
  • Integration of information technology, including artificial intelligence, and operational technology; appropriate ICT tools (e.g. aggregation technologies) for multi-criteria decision making, for the design and the operation management of exchange streams in a dynamic production environment, advanced modelling to design and establish novel symbiotic interactions; data sharing and preservation of data confidentiality;
  • Assessment methodologies and KPIs to measure the performance of symbiosis, including environmental, economic and social impacts. Life cycle assessment and life cycle cost analysis should take into account existing sustainability standards (e.g. ISO 10410) and existing best practices;

Creation of an inventory of successful symbiotic relations and solutions, as well as best practices. Non-technological aspects, which may include regulatory issues, the need for redefining standards, and new business models, covering ownership, management and fair sharing of benefits, should be considered. This may entail devising collaboration strategies via contracts and platforms for cross-sectorial sharing of resources and benefits in industrial parks, clusters or distributed plants.

Clustering and cooperation with other selected projects under this cross-cutting call and other relevant projects is strongly encouraged.

Proposals submitted under this topic should include a business case and exploitation strategy, as outlined in the Introduction of this part of the Work Programme.

Activities should start at TRL 6 and achieve TRL 7 at the end of the project.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution of EUR between EUR 12 and 20 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Industrial Symbiosis holds significant potential to provide major improvements in resource and energy efficiency for all energy intensive industries. Exploiting this potential could accelerate the transition to a circular economy and to renewable energy systems, reduce waste heat energy and lead to significant reduction of GHG emissions. However, Industrial Symbiosis is currently not yet widely implemented. The challenge is to tackle all technological and non-technological barriers. The full potential of industrial symbiosis could only unfold if the consequences for energy grids and adjacent infrastructures (e.g. waste heat recovery through district heating or heat integration in chemical processes, waste to energy, or waste and gaseous effluents management), as well as the regional dimension are taken into account.

Several of the following impacts are expected:

  • Step change towards closing circular loops;
  • Improvement of at least 15% in energy efficiency of the targeted industrial processes, compared to the non-symbiotic scenario;
  • Reduction of at least 30% in total energy intensity, on the basis of full life cycle considerations;
  • Overall reductions in CO2 emissions of 40% compared to the non-symbiotic scenario;
  • Reduction in primary raw material intensity of up to 20%;
  • Reduction of waste generation by at least 25%;
  • Better understanding of relevant barriers (e.g. end of waste criteria);
  • Effective dissemination of major innovation outcomes to the current and next generation of employees, through the development of learning resources with flexible usability. These should be easy to integrate in existing curricula and modules for undergraduate level and lifelong learning programmes;
  • The environmental gains in absolute figures, and weighted against EU and global environmental footprints, should be demonstrated;
  • In addition, the replication potential should also be be assessed.

Relevant indicators and metrics, with baseline values, should be stated clearly in the proposal.