Berlin becomes a transfer region for green chemistry

Joint media information of BERLIN-CHEMIE AG, Covestro AG, Freier Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Technischer Universität Berlin


  • A consortium of a total of 29 partners is receiving funding amounting to up to 10 million euro from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research for the GreenCHEM concept to develop the capital region into an international hotspot for deep tech innovations in chemistry.

To set up an ecosystem for the transfer in the field of green chemistry, the five initial partners (Technische Universität Berlin, Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, BERLIN-CHEMIE AG and Covestro AG) will together with 24 additional project partners receive funding amounting to up to 10 million euro. In total, 115 alliances nationwide applied for the funding programme "T!Raum – TransferRäume für die Zukunft von Regionen" initiated by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Twelve initiatives will now receive the awarding of the federal funds for a period of a maximum nine years.


Increase green chemistry transfer successes with GreenCHEM

Many of the global challenges require solutions that rely on chemical innovations, from CO2 bonding to water treatment and energy storage up to waste prevention and recycling. "Innovations in chemistry are needed more urgently than ever for a sustainable society," says Dr. Christoph Gürtler, Head of Global Industry Academia Cooperations at Covestro Deutschland AG, summing up the central role of chemistry. In this context, the "turning point in chemistry" merges efforts to create a recycling economy based on renewable raw materials that avoids the use of fossil fuels and toxic substances. However, this enormous transformation of Germany's third-largest industry sector not only requires technical research results aligned with the twelve principles of green chemistry. The key to success is to significantly increase the transfer successes in this field. "Berlin is known worldwide for cutting-edge research in chemistry; GreenCHEM enables the transfer of research results into practical applications and thus makes a decisive contribution to a materially sustainable future," says Prof. Dr. Rainer Haag from the Institute of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the FU Berlin about the mission of GreenCHEM, which is supported by all 29 partners involved: Unleashing the sustainability impact of green chemistry through transfer. The goal is to develop innovative formats of transfer and establish a financially self-sustaining ecosystem with European appeal.

Berlin is already a leading start-up location in Europe and attracts innovative and sustainability-oriented people from all over the world. "In addition to creativity and the pursuit of sustainability, the industrial structure of the capital region in combination with the top universities is a perfect fit for the project like no other place in Europe," said Dr. Christian Matschke, member of the Executive Board of BERLIN-CHEMIE AG, about the advantages of the regional economic structure, which is characterised by many medium-sized buyers of chemical innovations. "We are specifically bringing together the infrastructure of the partners in the network so that the chemical innovations arising from basic research can be efficiently assessed and the viable ideas developed more quickly and in greater numbers into green industrial products," says Daniela Rings, Team Leader of Innovation Management and IP Services at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, emphasising a key point of the project.

The fact that the region is a top location for outstanding basic research in chemistry is demonstrated by numerous collaborative research projects in Berlin as well as the only Cluster of Excellence in the field of chemistry that has existed continuously since the beginning of the Excellence Initiative (2007-2018 UniCat, currently UniSysCat). However, transfer successes have so far fallen well short of the available potential. With GreenCHEM, the partners involved want to combine existing infrastructure and know-how so that sustainable innovations from the first experiment to industrial production, from the idea to its implementation, are made possible more quickly and more often. For the first time, a critical mass is achieved in the alliance of partners, which – together with start-up-oriented teaching, social dialogue and students as the next generation of idea generators – creates a pull effect on people and companies to implement innovations in green chemistry for the benefit of the planet. "We will expand the complementary and diverse ecosystem to include more partners who share our vision and values," says Martin Rahmel, Managing Director of the Chemical Invention Factory (CIF) at TU Berlin and coordinator of the GreenCHEM consortium, issuing a clear invitation to join and adding: "We will responsibly use this seed funding consisting of taxpayer money to build a financially self-sustaining ecosystem that must be equipped with effective funding building blocks for the transfer of international technology and spin-off teams."


Partners involved

In addition to the Technischen Universität Berlin, which is coordinating GreenCHEM, the Freie Universität Berlin and the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin as well as BERLIN-CHEMIE AG and Covestro AG are involved as initial partners of GreenCHEM. Network partners are:  Ventures GmbH; Atotech Deutschland GmbH & Co. KG; b.value AG, Berlin Partner für Wirtschaft und Technologie GmbH; Bernotat & Cie. GmbH; Business Angels Berlin-Brandenburg; Fraunhofer IAO | Center for Responsible Research and Innovation (CeRRI);; Cradle to Cradle NGO; Extantia Capital Management GmbH; Falling Walls Foundation gGmbH, Hybrid Plattform, INAM e.V.; Leroma GmbH; Made of Air GmbH; PentraCor GmbH; PolyAn GmbH; Potsdam Science Park - Standortmanagement Golm GmbH; Senatsverwaltung für Wirtschaft, Energie und Betriebe; Siemens AG; Umweltbundesamt; UniSysCat | Cluster of Excellence "Unifying Systems in Catalysis"; Wirtschaftsförderung Land Brandenburg GmbH (WFBB); WISTA Management GmbH.


T!Raum – TransferRäume für die Zukunft von Regionen

The funding programme "T!Raum" is part of the "Innovation and structural change" programme and is financed by the BMBF. It aims to open up forward-looking innovation paths for structurally weak regions in the long term and to drive structural change forward. To do so, the funding measure relies on local universities and research institutions and enables them to develop new types of transfer instruments. Together with regional companies and other partners, these should develop and test new approaches for the transfer of knowledge, ideas and technology in an experimental way. The goal is to ensure innovations reach the companies located in the region more quickly and thus support positive structural change.


Further information:

More on the background and mission as well as the specific transfer challenges in green chemistry and the approach based on them can be seen in the following video:

As part of the Industry on Campus event organised by the Freie Universität Berlin further details of GreenCHEM will be presented on 17th November 2022 and there will also be an opportunity to exchange ideas. A detailed invitation will follow.