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'Don't give up' on EU environment programmes

The European Commission has urged UK innovators to continue applying for EU funding despite Britain’s vote to leave the union.

Didier Gambier (pictured), head of the Commission’s Executive Agency for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (EASME) department, said UK applicants will still be considered until Brexit is completed.

Part of Horizon 2020, EASME provides support to European businesses in the environment, energy and maritime sectors.

It managed the Eco-Innovation initiative, which co-funded UK plastics recycler Luxus’ three-year €1.4m (£1.2m) Recyclite project, which will finish this month.

The project helped to develop the company’s thermoplastics Hycolene range for vehicle interiors, in partnership with Jaguar Land Rover and twin screw manufacturer Coperion.

Luxus technical director Dr Christel Croft said: “This crucial investment ,and the dedicated industry expertise it required, has enabled us to make a fundamental step-change in our technology, as we have replaced filled compounds with next-generation reinforcing additives.”

Speaking at the product’s launch in Lincolnshire, Gambier said he had needed to convince UK businesses to continue applying to the EU’s LIFE programmes in recent months.

He said: “Until something is settled, nothing is settled. So, if you have the possibility to benefit from this programme, please do so. We have gained so much from cross-collaboration from both sides so if you can continue to gain, I think you should.

“As long as you are in [the EU], nothing has changed. We have benefitted from having a UK partner in the past. Do not give up on this programme.”

Gambier added that Italy and Spain, rather than the UK, were the biggest beneficiaries of LIFE funding.

He advised that projects seeking funding, with the next call for applicants expected in May, should align themselves with European policy for a greater chance of success.

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