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Tuesday, 22 March 2011

European companies turn to eco-innovation to tackle rising input costs

The competitiveness of European businesses is increasingly vulnerable to growing materials scarcity which causes price volatility. A Eurobarometer survey published today and presented at the 10th European Forum on Eco-innovation in Birmingham, UK, shows that 75% of European businesses have experienced an increase in material costs in the past five years, while 90% expect price increases in the future. To tackle this challenge, small and medium-sized businesses are looking to eco-innovation as their answer. However, many businesses are still not fully aware of the potential effects of natural resource scarcity on their future operations.  […] More than 40% of SMEs that have introduced an eco-innovation in the last two years said the investment had reduced material use by up to 20% per unit of output. This modest change will clearly need to be stepped up if the EU is to meet its ambitions for raw materials and resource efficiency (see IP/11/122 and IP/11/63). The survey shows that most European SMEs see limited access to materials as an important driver for eco-innovation. At the same time, they identify current and expected future price increases for energy as the most important incentives for eco-innovation. More than 70% of SMEs pointed to the need for good business partners and good access to external information and knowledge, including technology support services to accelerate eco-innovation uptake and development. There are a number of obstacles preventing businesses from investing in eco-innovation. The most significant barriers are linked to economic and financial constraints, notably uncertain demand from the market and the lack of external financing. Public authorities have a crucial role to play in helping SMEs to overcome these barriers and adopt eco-innovation. The Commission supports the uptake of eco-innovation by businesses through various tools including financing. The Commission is planning to put forward an Eco-innovation Action Plan by this summer that will further help business develop and invest in eco-innovation.

Source: European Commission