Next Generation funds for a circular economy
Little by little, the calls for Next Generation grants are coming one after the other. This summer will see the launch of one to finance projects that promote the circular economy, with a budget of 192 million euros.
This summer will see the opening of a call for Next Generation grants from the European Union to finance business projects that promote the circular economy. This is a multisectoral call with a budget of 192 million euros to promote sustainability and circularity in production processes and to create a more innovative and competitive industrial fabric.
Projects focusing on four main objectives will be eligible for this aid:
- Reducing the consumption of raw materials through the use of by-products or materials from waste or remanufactured products.
- Commercialisation of products with an ecological design that increases the useful life of the product and improves it in terms of repairability and recyclability.
- Improvement of waste management through new treatment systems that allow the recycling of raw materials.
- Digitalisation of processes, with the development of infrastructures and systems to improve the traceability of products or services based on the return of waste or 3D technologies, among others.
Companies of any size can apply, individually or as part of a consortium. However, priority will be given to projects involving small companies.
An ambitious plan
The Strategic Plan for Economic Recovery and Transformation (PERTE) in a circular economy, in which this call is framed, is expected to mobilise more than 1.2 billion euros in aid until 2026. Looking ahead to 2023, new specific calls are expected to be opened for three key sectors: textiles, plastics and capital goods for renewable energies.
This PERTE is one of the most ambitious in terms of channelling Next Generation funds and has three basic objectives: to reduce waste generation, boost treatment plants and promote the digitisation of companies and institutions.
The PERTEs include driving projects with a major transformative impact on strategic sectors. The circular economy plan aims to promote the transition from the current economic model, based on the linear gear of produce-consume-throw away, towards a new model that reduces the ecological footprint. In this sense, it is aligned with the objectives of the Spanish Circular Economy Strategy for 2030.
Specifically, the PERTE on circular economy identifies the three sectors mentioned above, in which it is considered particularly necessary to develop specific measures to achieve a circular economy model. However, the circular economy has also been introduced as a cross-cutting element in areas such as construction, agriculture, livestock and vocational training.
With the help of Acció
Acció, the Catalan agency for business competitiveness, has a specific section on its website on Next Generation grants, which includes an alert service for calls for proposals and advice on the steps to follow.
In this regard, the director of business strategy at Acció, Joan Martí, indicated at a recent session on Next Generation funds that the organisation has hired “eleven people” in the last two months to “promote the participation of Catalan companies in strategic projects” that have a “high component of digital transformation and environmental commitment through exceptional grants”. Joan Martí also stressed that a “delegation has been opened in Madrid to help Catalan companies approach ministries”.
Juanjo Escobar, head of the energy management division of the Catalan Energy Institute (ICAEN), criticised at the same session “the complexity of the procedures” and the lack of a “picture of the calls for proposals that will be made within six months”, which makes it difficult for companies to be clear about which ones they are most interested in participating in.
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