90 Eco-innovation good practice 17 Network Resource Efficiency, Germany The "Network Resource Efficiency" (NeRess) pools knowledge about the efficient use of resources to intensify communication between business, research and politics. It builds on the MaRess project (Material Efficiency and Resource Conservation) and intends to foster eco-efficient innovations while at the same time providing a permanent base for technological progress. Designed as a cross-sector, open “learning” platform, it aims at bundling know-how and experience regarding resource efficient production, products and management, as well as successful applications. It provides possibilities for the mutual exchange of information to intensify communication and cooperation between actors from enterprise, industry associations, advisory and educational institutions, academia, politics and the media to mobilise their central competencies and create a broad awareness of the issue resource efficiency. Furthermore, it develops proposals for the design of framework requirements that provide incentives and reduce barriers. For more information visit the NeRess website, Wuppertal Institute and the EIO online repository of good practices. Company performance 6. According to the 2011 EU-wide Eurobarometer survey, 45% of European companies in manufacturing, construction, agriculture, water and food services have implemented at least one eco-innovation over last 2 years. 7. The manufacturing sector has the highest share of companies implementing eco-innovations to reduce material use while the electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply sector has the highest share of companies eco-innovating to reduce the use of energy. It should also be noted that these recent figures by far exceed the numbers of previous analyses – indicating a landslide shift towards energy and material efficiency among companies. 8. However, only about 4% of eco-innovating companies declared that the eco-innovation they have introduced led to a more than 40% reduction of material use per unit output. The results suggest that the intensity of the recent eco-innovation activity of companies is not sufficient to achieve a Factor 2, let alone Factor 5, resource-efficiency target. The overwhelming majority of companies report incremental improvements. Clearly, incremental innovations can also be of key relevance toward achieving goals, but only if they are introduced continuously and if they are part of a wider strategic objective of the company. Drivers and barriers 9. According to the Eurobarometer (2011) survey, a majority of companies expect raw material prices to increase in the future and realise the opportunities of saving material costs. The strongest drivers for eco-innovation are the current and expected high prices of energy as well as expected future scarcity of materials. Existing regulations and taxes are another key driver: nearly every fourth innovating firm in the EU introduced environmental innovation in response to those policy instruments.
eco-innovation observatory 10. Most important barriers are related to economic and financial factors, notably to the lack of funding and the uncertain market demand. Thus, the European Union has a role to play in fostering eco-innovation via intelligent regulation, economic incentives and smart funding mechanisms. The EIO believes that realising a resource-efficient Europe in the next decades is possible. As a special feature of this report we offer a positive vision of life in the year 2100 and illustrate how the implementation of eco-innovation technologies and products, as well as changes in the socio-institutional context, can bring Europe onto a sustainable development pathway. Annual Report 2010 91