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PIVERT : IEED, the only unit specialised in plant chemistry

"All the relevant actors from academic walks and associate industrialists, for the purpose of establishing a new sector, plant chemistry”

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Invest in the future | July 2011

PIVERT : IEED, the only unit specialised in plant chemistry

The PIVERT project, standing for Picardie Region Plant Innovation (Teaching, Research and Technologies), carried essentially by ITC-Compiegne, the Industrial and Agro-Resources Pole (IAR) and SOFIPROEOL, is the only ‘excellent’ (see above for use of this term) Institute working in France on the topic of Carbon-Free Energies* and specialised in development of plant chemistry.

PIVERT “is totally unique on a world-scale”, asserts Daniel THOMAS, Vice-President of the Scientific Council for UTC-Compiegne and Executive Chairman of IAR, and will soon groups together on a single site at Compiègne, housed in High Environmental Quality premises (French standard HQE) “all the relevant actors from academic walks and associate industrialists, for the purpose of establishing a new sector, plant chemistry” says Jean-François ROUS, Director for Innovation at SOFIPROTEOL.

The added value of UTC-Compiegne research in the search for alternate energy bouquets

This partnership between public and private interests is a novel format, supported to a large extent by the local authorities, is one of the two IEEDs selected to date on a national scale, and has a triple aim: to see basic upstream research progress, to help agriculture to remain a prominent regional activity and at the same time to re-industrialise the sector. PIVERT – in the framework of the IAR which in 2005 was the only competitivity pole in France (collaborating with IUTC-Compiegne) to propose research projects appertaining to finding alternate sources for energy, over and above oil and petroleum products – has as its objective to value add to oleaginous (oil-bearing) plants, with crops growing in Picardie Region. “The challenge is to make use of the whole plant, its oils, its fibres, thereby reducing to a maximum degree the waste or by-products, with the prospect of attaining the logic dictated by a sustainable development policy”, adds Daniel THOMAS.

PIVERT is a world class centre in research, valorisation and training

To be more specific, PIVERT offers its partners, including UTC-Compiegne an enhanced national, European and international visibility in terms of research and valorisation. “Such an IEDD should enable UTC-Compiegne to be recognised as ‘excellent’ or world-class in plant chemistry and will provide new and economically viable industrial and service sectors that will rank among the most competitive that exist in the world”, states Pierre CHARREYON, Chancellor and President of UTC-Compiegne. PIVERT will also have the capacity to launch start-ups and to contribute to establishing new training courses that guarantee economic competitivity for the new sector and transfer of knowledge, where appropriate. Among these courses, we shall find vocational degrees, Master’s degrees (and their French equivalent Mastère) and some e-learning programmes …

Prospective economic development for the Picardie and Champagne-Ardenne Regions

The two French Regions, Champagne-Ardenne and Picardie, together represent Europe’s biggest agricultural basin, and it is projected (according to PIVERT specialists) that there could be un unequalled economic development, with the creation of 5 000 job openings “in a geographic area that has always defended and supported research and innovation activities” recalls Daniel THOMAS. The city of Compiègne and its region, Picardie, are clearly identified today as a bench-mark location in Europe for green chemistry work and for valorisation of plants, and tomorrow, if we follow the wish expressed by Claude GEWERC, President of the Regional Council of Picardie, “it could become the Silicon Valley for Bio-refining, through a wide-scale innovation project combined with a real commitment by the Regions concerned”.

The challenge

”To develop innovative approaches and processes based on the principles that underpin green chemistry”, for the purpose of:

- Complying with the basic principles of sustainable development, viz., respecting the environment, paying attention to economic development, adapting the results to societal demands;
- Removing the technological obstacles that impact the full chain (fractioning the biomass, fermentation, biosynthesis, modelled simulation for a future industrial ecology…);
- Optimising the life cycle analysis for new products and crop-growing processes as required and implemented in bio-refined products.

* The Institute for Excellence in Carbon-Free Energy Research (IEED) is an interdisciplinary platform working in the field of carbon-free energy sources, bringing together the various competences that exist in industry and public research on the basis of a public-private partnership implementing a co-investment policy.

PIVERT, some relevant figures :

- 9 Founder members (Sofiprotéol, Maguin, PCAS, Pôle IAR, Rhodia, SNC Lavalin, UPJV, UTC-Compiegne, UTT-Troye)
- 26 partners
- 150 public and private sector research scientists, including 100 with teaching responsibilities plus doctoral thesis students registered with UTC-Compiegne
- 6 UTC-Compiegne laboratories (TIMR, GEC, BMBI, Roberval, LMAC and COSTECH)
- 5 000 industrial job openings created in Picardie
- 220 M-euro budget, spread over a 10 year period.