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After a €3.7 billion investment plan, how strong is Europe's bio-based economy?

Posted by Emily O'Dowd on Mar 1, 2017 3:30:46 PM

In 2014, the EU began a nAll things bio-basedew partnership with the Bio-based Industries Consortium (BIC) to drive the European bioeconomy. The initiative will invest €3.7 billion in new industry innovations by 2020. €975 million worth of investment will come from EU funds (Horizon 2020) and €2.7 billion of private investments. Since it was launched in 2014, the BIC have announced that this is a growing industry which promises a future for bio-based developments in Europe. At their general assembly earlier this month they welcomed 16 new Full members and 22 new Associate members, signalling strong European cooperation on the bioeconomy. They join a unique cross-section of experts, including technology providers and representatives from the agriculture, agro-food, forestry, pulp and paper, chemicals, energy and other manufacturing sectors, all working together to develop innovative bio-based value chains.

BIC ( @biconsortium ) Executive Director, Dirk Carrez said, “The addition of 38 new members demonstrates confidence in BIC’s ability to drive the European bioeconomy forward by bringing the bio-based industries together. We are excited about our growth, which shows strong industry commitment and support for the Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU).”

Who are Bio-based Industries Consortium? 

A Brussels based organisation encouraging the movement towards the post-petroleum society, everyday products made from renewable resources and innovative technologies. They are aiming to leverage capital markets and additional private and public funds. In promoting new sustainable businesses, it is likely to: significantly reduce Europe’s dependency on fossil-fuel based products; help the EU meet climate change targets and lead to greener and more environmentally friendly growth. Their key aim is to develop new biorefining technologies to sustainably transform renewable natural resources into bio-based products, materials and fuels.

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Their focus:

  • Feedstock: foster a sustainable biomass supply with increased productivity and building new supply chains
  • Biorefineries: optimise efficient processing through R&D and demonstrate their efficiency and economic viability at large-scale demo/flagship biorefineries
  • Markets, products and policies: develop markets for bio-based products and optimise policy frameworks

Some examples of their 34 ongoing projects are Agrimax – Agri and food waste valorisation co-ops based on flexible multi-feedstocks biorefinery processing technologies for new high added value applications, and Efforte - Efficient forestry by precision planning and management for sustainable environment and cost-competitive bio-based industry.

Key to BBI JU project success is interregional cooperation, which fosters bio-based technology scale up. The role of regions was the main focus of the General Assembly Open Session, which provided 13 regions with the opportunity to pitch BIC Full and Associate members to explain regional strengths, available biomass and potential financial incentives. Bart Verschoor, from the Zuid-Holland (South Holland) region in the Netherlands, also presented the Vanguard Initiative Bioeconomy Pilot, which is aimed at facilitating the creation of cross-regional demonstration projects using smart specialisation strategies.

The BIC General Assembly was followed by an Open Session where Philippe Mengal, BBI JU Executive Director, reviewed the organisation’s activities.  He said, “The BBI JU programme is the catalyst in shifting to a sustainable European bio-based economy.  In supporting research and innovation actions, its contribution for the initial three completed Calls is €419 million funding for 36 ongoing projects.  As a joint venture between the European Commission and BIC, the BBI JU is helping to create the right conditions for a competitive bio-based industrial sector in Europe.”

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What benefits will this bring to Europe’s bio-based economy?

  • Develop the potential of waste as well as agriculture and forestry residues.
  • Diversify and grow farmers’ incomes: up to 40% additional margins with existing residues.
  • Replace at least 30% of oil-based chemicals and materials with bio-based and biodegradable ones by 2030.
  • Create a competitive bio-based infrastructure in Europe, boosting job creation, 80% of which will be in rural and underdeveloped areas.
  • Deliver bio-based products that are comparable and/or superior to fossil-based products in terms of price, performance, availability and environmental benefits.
  • The new bio-based products resulting from the BBI will on average reduce CO2 emissions by at least 50% compared to their fossil alternatives.

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Topics: BBWNFeatures