Enterprise Europe Network

Our environment experts at your service


Do you know the Network has a group of experts dedicated to helping companies in the environment sector? Ahead of World Environment Day, we talked to Joana Afonso and Enrique Gonzalez, the chairperson and vice-chair of the Network environment sector group. Take a look at the work of over 50 experts and their clients changing the world.

Experts from more than 20 countries

"We are quite a diverse group with 52 members from 23 countries," says proudly Joana Afonso from CEC-CCIC (Portugal), the environment sector group chairperson. But the diversity within this group is not only geographical. "We have members from technological and research centres, innovation agencies, private companies and even public sector, which allows us to cater for a wide variety of client needs," says Joana.

Water, air, energy and more

The group provides support to clients in several sub-sectors from water and waste management to air and soil pollution, to energy.

"We support companies in domains such as life-cycle assessment or energy and resource efficiency. We help them to develop an international-oriented growth strategy," explains Enrique Gonzalez from CAPINNOVE (Belgium), the vice-chairperson.

"We also facilitate matchmaking of companies with universities and technology centres for exchange of practice and potential partnerships and are a contact point for all legislation-related questions."

Helping businesses innovate and grow internationally

"Connecting the right companies together or with the help they need is our main goal," says Joana.

Hundreds of clients take part in brokerage events or company missions organised by the environment sector group every year. Many of these lead to successful and sustainable partnerships. Take the example of Draxis.

Back in 2015, this Greek company led an EU-funded study into a high-tech irrigation management system that could revolutionise the way farmers worldwide are charged for water. When Draxis was looking for research partners for an eco-friendly irrigation system, the Network linked the company with three promising partners.

Their joint application was successful: Draxis was able to lead a 10-country study into a new water-irrigation system with EUR 2 million funding from the eco-innovation strand of the EU's research funding programme. In addition, the project was put in contact with Teknoset, and used the wireless technology developed by this Turkish SME to record the amount of water consumed by each user.

Today, the companies are still working with each other to seek commercial partners for their innovation. Learn more about this story.

A key policy role

The work of this group also includes discussing key European policy developments and making the link between Brussels and companies at national and regional level.

On a strategic level, Gonzalo is optimistic: "Considering new political priorities such as the circular economy package and an increased emphasis on resource efficiency, our group's expertise is becoming more important for the whole Network, and for its clients." 

All members of the group are familiar with the EU priorities and can inform their client companies about new opportunities or requirements. The group also counts REACH contact points and Environmental NCPs among its members, giving its support a very wide coverage.

Our experts at your service

So what's unique about this group of experts?

Enrique has no doubts: "Our group is unique because we have the privilege to be cross-sectorial. Nowadays, any company needs to consider the environmental impact and/or potential of their business, and that's where we come in."

To find out how the Network's environment experts can help you, get in touch with your local Network contact point.

Updated on 6 June 2017