EU partnership wants to develop bio-based industries

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT

Bio-based Industries EU BIC bioeconomy

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A public-private partnership has been launched to boost investment and create a competitive market for bio-based products - including food packaging - in Europe.

The Bio-based Industries (BBI) Joint Undertaking is a €3.7bn partnership from  the EU and the Bio-based Industries Consortium (BIC). It wants to connect key sectors and create value chains to lead to a bio-based community and economy.

Annita Westenbroek, programming co-ordinator, BIC, told the project seeks to close the gap between technology development and commercialisation.

Driven by demand

This initiative is different to others because it’s really focused on implementation and realising business cases,​” she said. “Many programmes are focused on research and development, but they are science and technology driven, not demand driven.

This is focused on what the bio-economy in Europe needs, what the industry needs. It’s focused on value chains, and bringing them into practice. Research and development is needed, but that will be focused on the gaps in the value chain.​”

The partnership is focusing on what projects can be realistically brought to the market, but need help with knowledge or funding to get there.

For example, you need to make sure the raw material you want for a bio-based packaging is available, and you need to make sure there is a market for this specific packaging​,” Westenbroek said. “It cannot be that you develop a new type of material and no one asks for it, or the raw material is not available​.”

The BBI wants to see a shift from a fossil fuel and imports based society, and increase Europe’s sustainable economic growth. It says this will create jobs in rural areas, revitalise industries, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% in comparison to fossil-based applications.

The biggest challenge for advancing a bio-based economy is linking people and their knowledge together, Westenbroek said.

The main challenges are the big walls between sectors and disciplines​,” she said. “People need to know each other. In bio-based food packaging, for example, you want to have sectors co-operating together."

As an example, she says an innovation department should talk to the buyers of other companies to find out what developments the market wants.

Through the project, €3.7bn will be injected into the European economy between 2014 and 2024 - €975m from the European Commission and €2.7bn from the Bio-based Industries Consortium (BIC).

First BBI Call for Proposals

The BBI has launched its first call for proposals, with a budget of €50m (which doesn’t include industry contributions, which are expected to reach up to €150m).  

Projects need to meet one of the 16 topics, which can be found here​. The deadline for submissions of proposals is October 15.

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