According to chemical industry association Cefic, the EU chemical industry’s share of world markets has seriously declined in the past 20 years. In 1995 EU industry sales amounted to €326 billion, representing 32.3% of worldwide sales. Two decades on, the EU chemicals sales have grown almost 60% but the market share has dropped to a meagre 14.7% in 2015. This “dilution effect” looks set to continue. Demand for chemicals is growing strongly in China, India and other emerging countries but slowly in Europe and North America, where Europe sells most of its chemicals. What can sustainable innovation contribute to this challenge?