New European partnership to develop bioeconomy

On Wednesday (9 July), the European Commission (EC) and industry leaders launched a new European Joint Undertaking on Bio-based Industries (BBI) to develop an emerging European bioeconomy sector.

The BBI is a €3.7 billion Public-Private Partnership (PPP) between the EC and Bio-based Industries Consortium (BIC) and aims to create new partnerships across a variety of private sectors (including agriculture, agro-food, technology providers, forestry/pulp and paper, chemicals and energy) in the hopes of triggering investments and creating a competitive market for bio-based products.

‘Made in Europe’

Between 2014 and 2024, the BBI intends to inject €3.7 billion of funding (€2.7 billion from BIC and €975 million from the EC) into the European economy in order to shift it away from a fossil- and imports-based model and to encourage sustainable economic growth.

This will reportedly be done by supporting European research and innovation projects such as turning biological residues and wastes into sustainable bio-based chemicals, materials and fuels through new technologies and advanced biorefineries.

In line with Horizon 2020 rules, all stakeholders will be invited on an annual basis to submit proposal ideas that can ‘demonstrate progress beyond state-of-the-art’ for financing.

The first call for proposals was launched on Wednesday, with the BBI calling for long-term strategies that are designed to deliver ‘tangible social, economic and environmental results’.

The call contains a total of 16 topics:

  • 10 ‘Research and Innovation Actions’ with a total budget of €15 million; and
  • six ‘Innovation Actions’ (five demos and one flagship) with a total budget of €35 million.

A ‘value chain approach’

By connecting key sectors, it is hoped that the new venture could create new value chains – ranging from primary production to consumer markets –  through the development of sustainable biomass collection and further use of biomass feedstocks.  

Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, said: "The bioeconomy has huge potential that is attracting investments all around the world.

“With this new partnership, we want to harness innovative technologies to convert Europe’s untapped renewable resources and waste into greener everyday products such as food, feed, chemicals, materials and fuels, all sourced and made in Europe."

Peder Holk Nielsen, CEO of Novozymes, added on behalf of industry partner, the BIC: “The BBI is an unprecedented public-private commitment because of its focus on bringing bio-based solutions to the market.

“It is an opportunity to deliver sustainable growth in European regions and to reverse the investment trend currently going to other regions of the world.”

Read the full BBI Work Plan for 2014 or read about UK plans for a bioeconomy.