First Application (FA) and Market Replication (MR)

Eco Innovation is defined as "any form of innovation aiming at significant and demonstrable progress towards the goal of sustainable development, through reducing impacts on the environment or achieving a more efficient and responsible use of natural resources, including energy.”

CEC provides individuals and organizations access to partner projects, and support services for business, innovation, and finance. One of the main objectives is to accelerate new technology transfer, and to tap the full potential of new technology for optimizing efficiencies and protecting the environment while contributing to competitiveness and economic growth.

CEC manages partner projects concerned with the First Application (FA) or Market Replication (MR) of Eco Innovative techniques, products, services or practices of community relevance, which have already been technically demonstrated with success but which, owing to residual risk, have not yet penetrated the market. They should contribute to remove obstacles to the development and wide application of eco-innovation, create or enlarge markets for related products and improve the competitiveness of enterprises on world markets. The projects aim to optimize efficiency, reduce environmental impacts, or improve performance of enterprises, in particular SMEs.

The three main aspects are:

For example, the wider application of new technologies and innovations is expected to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, to use resources such as water and raw materials more efficiently, to increase the quantity of recycled materials, to produce quality products with less impact on the environment and to implement more environmentally friendly production processes and services. Environmental impacts and optimization of resources need to be considered in a non-isolated way throughout the life cycle of the related activities: from extraction of raw materials to production, distribution, use and final disposal or recycling on a full  Life-Cycle approach. 

In addition, Eco Innovation should make sense economically and should bring tangible benefits in terms of investments, turnover, market penetration and job creation especially for SMEs. 

Besides the application of the new eco-innovative solution during the project, also the replication and exploitation are important aspects: Eco Innovation aims to multiply the impacts of the projects' solutions and mobilize a wide market uptake, reaching a critical mass during the project and in a short and medium term. A clear business and exploitation plan should be part of every project.

There are many technological and business innovations already technically tested that can significantly benefit the environment. The challenge now is to provide new driving forces that will encourage the diffusion and uptake of Eco Innovation on a broad scale, maximizing its economic and environmental benefits. 

CEC partner projects aim to bridge the gap between research and technological demonstration and prototyping on one hand and commercialization on the other hand. Market demonstration and market uptake of Eco Innovative solutions as well as their exploitation and replication are at the core of eco-innovation. Innovation, and in particular eco-innovation, is a progressive concept. It can take different forms, such as process or technological innovation, product innovation and system or organizational innovation, new introduction into a market or incremental innovation.

Through environmental benefits, level of innovation or market replication potential, the projects should be of local interest, bringing a significant contribution to the market uptake of eco-innovation. 

Concerned with the first application or market replication of eco-innovative techniques, products, processes or practices, which have already been technically demonstrated, but due to remaining risks need incentives to penetrate significantly the market.


  • Promote the adoption of new and integrated approaches to Eco Innovative products, processes and services.

  • Encourage the uptake of environmental solutions by increasing the market uptake and by the removing the barriers to market penetration. Solutions are understood to include products, processes, technologies or services.

  • Increase innovation capacities of SMEs.

  • In general, support projects which address the objectives with a clear priority to SMEs. 

Main Priority Areas

Materials Recycling

Efforts to reduce and avoid the negative impacts of waste on the environment and human health. Despite all the progress achieved, the challenges for waste is still mounting and much still needs to be done. Strategy on the prevention and recycling of waste can further improve the management of waste, make better use of its materials and energy resources, and set more ambitious targets for the re-use, recycling and recovery of some categories of waste.

Innovation covers a wide range of recycling and re-use processes, methods, technologies and approaches, such as for example: automation, sorting, treatment, post-shredder and separation technologies, as well as business innovations relating to recycling and re-use.

Actions to be supported: 

  • Better sorting processes and methods for waste materials, construction waste, commercial/industrial waste, potential recyclables or recyclable waste from electrical and electronic equipment and end-of-life vehicles.

  • Innovative products using recycled material or facilitating material recycling, matching international products' standards, advanced design requirements and high quality consumer needs.

  • Business innovations to strengthen the competitiveness of recycling industries, such as new market structures for recycling products, supply chains or harmonised manufacturing and recycling processes.


The building sector is a complex sector embracing a number of aspects such as design, choice of materials, use of natural resources as well as interaction with very different socio- economic, regulatory and administrative contexts.

Innovation manifests itself in many forms, either at the product level, or at the level of performance of the building or of the services provided by the supply chain to the customer/occupants. Environmental aspects possibly addressed by innovation include sustainability of materials, in-door air quality, water and energy efficiency, or adaptation to climate change.

This area covers innovative processes or products as well as building services or integrated approaches for the residential and non-residential sectors, offering significant business opportunities in all phases (construction, maintenance, repair, retrofitting or demolition of buildings).

Actions to be supported:

  • Innovative building products aimed at a more rational use of natural resources and a reduced environmental impact, including materials and manufacturing processes. This will cover, but not exclusively, products made from non-toxic, reusable or recycled construction materials, construction elements based on renewable resources or on materials from local sources, HFC- (Hydro Fluoro Compounds) and VOC- (Volatile Organic Compounds) free insulation materials, products or materials with low embodied energy.

  • Reusing and recycling of construction and demolition wastes that significatntly reduce the need for landfill sites and further mineral extraction. Innovative, cost-efficient selective sorting techniques related to construction and demolition wastes.

  • Innovative water systems, including water saving, re-use of natural waters, rain water collection and re-use, or green roofs.

Food and Drink Sector

The food and drink sector contributes on average 20% to 30% of the various environmental impacts of private consumption such as energy use, land use, resource depletion, acidification, water use, or waste, with a contribution of up to 50% for eutrophication. These impacts include the full food production and distribution chain ‘from farm to fork’.

Priority will be given to those sectors of food and drink with high environmental impacts, such as meat and meat products, followed by dairy products and other industries like olive production. Meat and meat products (including poultry, sausages or similar) and dairy products have the greatest environmental impact amongst those caused by private consumption. 

Actions to be supported: 

  • Cleaner and innovative products, including packaging methods and materials, processes and services aiming at higher resources efficiency. Full raw material utilisation in the food sector, which increases resource efficiency and productivity, reduces bio-degradable waste, and supports the transition to a bio-based economy.

  • Cleaner and innovative products, processes and services aiming at a reduction of waste and greenhouse gas emissions, or/and increasing recycling and recovery.

  • Improved efficiency in the water consumption of a process or improved eco-efficiency of water management.

  • Innovative cleaner products, processes and services aiming at reducing the environmental impact of consumption of food and drinks, such as labeling or logistical services addressing packaging, distribution and purchasing decisions.

Greening Business/ Smart Purchasing

The aim of this priority area is to grant support to small and medium sized enterprises and organizations in greening their businesses, products and services and in improving their management of all environmental aspects and impacts, and in adapting to the impacts of climate change on their activities.

Greening a business can take multiple forms: green procurement and incentives when buying equipment and supplies or services, introducing a life-cycle approach in order to take into consideration the raw material extraction, production, consumption and end-of-life phases of a product's life-cycle, the integration of eco-innovative techniques and eco-design principles in supply chains etc. The important actors are, accordingly the producers, which preferably should be tackled in a cluster or sectoral approach, and on the other hand the consumers.

Adaptation is needed to face the long-term challenges. SMEs may have more difficulties than larger companies to cope with the risks and consequences of climate change. However, new business opportunities could arise for them.

Actions to be supported:

  • Innovative approaches to increased resource and energy efficiency and biodiversity aspects or simplifications in industrial clusters or districts of SMEs, using specific cluster or supply chain approaches. Such approaches should reduce consultancy and audit/verification costs for participating SMEs, and facilitate additional knowledge transfer, sharing and experience exchange among participants, encouraging a coherent environmental policy in the cluster.

  • Supporting and implementing products and services that will decrease environmental impacts, following the principles of Integrated Product Policy and on the basis of the life cycle approach and in-line with the various policies.

  • Implementing and enhancing the use of environmental criteria (based on the Eco-label or other accredited label/certification) for purchasing decisions of enterprises (i.e. greening supply chains; implementing innovative approaches to procurement) and wider application of the concept of Green Public Procurement (GPP) to the private sector.

  • Greening of production, supporting environmental, innovative processes with a high replication factor.

International Innovation Center (ICI)

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