The European Commission proposed a €3.8bn Public Private Partnership (PPP) on Biobased Industries, to boost the commercialization of biobased products in Europe.
The commission will invest €1bn and industry €2.8bn, from 2014 to 2020, to boost market uptake of new biobased products that are made in Europe.
Industry was represented in the negotiations by the Biobased Industries Consortium (BIC), a community set up in December 2012.
Unilever, Metsä Group, Mondi, UPM, Cargill, Sappi, DSM, Solvay, Stora Enso and Smurfit Kappa are all members of the group.
The joint proposal will next be handled by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union.
One aim is to replace oil-based chemicals and materials with biodegradable and bio-based ones.
The firms were one of a number of groups competing for a joint technology initiative (JTI), with bio-based industries being one candidate under the Horizon 2020 EU programme.
Horizon 2020, running from 2014 to 2020, is the financial instrument aimed at securing Europe's global competitiveness with an €80bn budget.
Metsä Group, a founding member of the consortium, said the model will promote bioeconomy by using renewable raw materials and fuels and by producing safe and recyclable products.
The Biobased Industries PPP, also known as ‘BRIDGE’, aims to accelerate the commercialisation of research results and will be officially launched in early 2014.
"The Biobased Industries PPP is essential for Europe to remain competitive in the global race for the development of a biobased economy,” said Novozymes CEO Peder Holk Nielsen.
“It is an opportunity for reindustrialization and for reversing the investment trend currently going to other regions of the world because of more attractive policy frameworks.”
Berry Wiersum, CEO of Sappi, said: “This is a unique partnership that places sustainability at the heart of all economic, social and industrial activities. It is about realising the untapped potential of biomass and waste, to deliver sustainable growth in Europe.”
The European pulp and paper industry is a strategic partner, with 13 of the 48 member companies from the sector and CEPI as an associate member.
Teresa Presas, Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI) director general, said: “CEPI has worked hard to help make the PPP become reality.
“This support for innovation and demonstration is much needed. It keeps investments in Europe and helps realise our industry’s future."
European Bioplastics said that for the relatively nascent bio-chemicals industry, and for the bioplastics industry specifically, what is critical at this early stage is that the industry sees a strong value commitment from our European political leadership.
"Simply put, the Public Private Partnership sends a clear message to the industry, the marketplace, and to downstream customers that the EC sees the biobased products industry as vital economic engine for EU manufacturing growth and continuing technology leadership along the value chain,” said Hasso von Pogrell, European Bioplastics.
“Frankly, commitment such as this is vital, at a time when the governments of emerging economies are exerting bolder leadership to lure bioplastics companies to invest there - not for short term, but for long term sustainable growth.
"Certainly South East Asia, US and Brazil have their eyes on the prize, and establish rival regional hubs of industrial biotechnology, manufacturing and export development, green engines of job and economy growth."