GreenChem: Ecosystem for Green Chemistry Launches in Berlin

Berlin Universities Cooperate to Support Chemical Innovation

19.10.2023 - The GreenChem project, initiated by Freie Universität Berlin (FU Berlin), Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (HU Berlin) and Technische Universität Berlin (TU Berlin) together with Covestro and Berlin-Chemie, started yesterday in Berlin.

John C. Warner of the non-profit organization Beyond Benign also attended the launch event. Warner, one of the fathers of green chemistry, was presented with the Green Chemistry Commitment (GCC) signed by HU Berlin and FU Berlin. The TU Berlin already joined the initiative in 2021.

GreenChem is a consortium of the three Berlin universities of excellence and 26 other partners from industry, science, and government. The goal of the consortium is to create an ecosystem for innovation in green chemistry in the capital region. Creative, forward-looking ideas will be supported in "research push" and "industry pull" formats, with a focus on scientific spin-offs - i.e. start-ups and spin-offs. In addition, the concept of Green Chemistry will be transferred to society in the form of education and training in order to stimulate the change towards a new type of chemistry that uses sustainable, non-toxic resources and follows a circular economy. The project is funded by the BMBF with 10 million euros as part of the T!Raum program.

Beyond Benign was founded in 2007 by Amy Cannon and John C. Warner. Warner is a former professor at the University of Massachusetts Boston and Lowell and an honorary professor at the Technical University of Berlin. Initiated by Beyond Benign in 2013, the GCC was developed with university staff as a framework for international collaboration in the field of green chemistry. The aim of the GCC is to bring green chemistry into higher education and to equip scientists with the necessary skills to develop products that are less harmful to human health and the environment.

TU Berlin was the first European university to sign the GCC in January 2021. At the kick-off event in Berlin, HU Berlin and FU Berlin joined the 138 universities that have signed the GCC. This means that eight European universities are now part of the alliance.

"Change doesn't happen by wishing it, it happens by doing it - and green chemistry does a lot of that. But we owe it to society to teach the right things," said John C. Warner. "I am delighted that the Green Chemistry Commitment has received such international attention. Chemistry has a language and brings everyone together. And Berlin is the Silicon Valley of Green Chemistry."

"We see here that chemistry in Germany can become green and sustainable," added Henry Marx, State Secretary for Science and Research of the State of Berlin. Martin Kaupp, Deputy Managing Director of the Institute of Chemistry at the TU Berlin, said: "Since signing the Green Chemistry Commitment, our Master's program has already been enriched with Green Chemistry."

"We are delighted to be joining a community of like-minded people," said Mathias Christmann, Managing Director of the Institute of Chemistry at FU Berlin. Christoph Arenz, Managing Director of the Institute of Chemistry at HU Berlin, added: "I hope that every new discovery in chemistry will take sustainability into account."