Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Bio-based innovation builds Europe’s bioeconomy

A global transition from an economy dominated by petrochemical-based processes towards ones that are sustainable, bio-based and circular, is now underway. In this context bio-based innovation has the potential to help to build a bioeconomy that will reduce the European economy’s dependence on fossil feedstocks by using CO2 instead, thereby making a positive contribution to meeting the EU’s climate goals, while relieving pressure on ecosystems and helping to create ‘green jobs’.
Bio-based innovation builds Europe’s bioeconomy
Bio-based innovation is also bringing a further paradigm shift to the bioeconomy by moving beyond biomass processing to harness nature’s biological processes and principles. Scientists are now working to overcome current limitations in bio-based technologies and better understand mechanisms and processes at the genetic and molecular levels, enabling them to learn from nature and create or improve industrial processes. Advances in bioscience and biotechnology are being used to develop products and processes for high value market applications. They include bioactive compounds for health, cosmetics, personal care; dietary components such as prebiotics, flavours, nutritional ingredients; biopolymers, fragrances; eco-friendly compounds, agrochemicals and coatings.

Europe's bioeconomy is currently worth EUR 2.2 trillion and employs 18.6 million people across the bloc.

Nature supplies solutions: research pipelines lead the way

This CORDIS Results Pack highlights 16 EU-funded projects, 4 of which are implemented via the Bio-based industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU) – a public private partnership of the EU and the Bio-based Industries Consortium (BIC). These projects have considered the use of innovative biological processes and principles - derived from terrestrial and aquatic organisms - for the development of high value applications.

Initiatives, such as BIOOX for example, have developed biological enzymes for the industrial-scale production of chemicals, biopolymers, fragrances and other consumer products in bio-reactors. NewFert used biowaste to produce new green fertilisers. OPTIBIOCAT sifted through the genomes of fungi and bacteria for suitable biocatalysts for use in cosmetics. SmartLi developed technologies for using lignins as raw materials for biomaterials.

SUSY cut the cost of biotechnology processes involving glycosylation by exploiting the unique properties of sugar-modifying enzymes, with applications in the food, chemical, pharmaceutical and personal care industries. PROVIDES employed new natural solvents to improve energy efficiency in the pulp and paper industries.

PUFACHAIN devised a complete procedure using microalgae as a sustainable source of purified polyunsaturated fatty acids for high-value nutrition and pharmaceutical applications. BISIGODOS produce valuable algae-derived chemicals, amino acids and bio-resins for coatings, printing, food, and haircare and adhesive applications.

BIOWAYS increased public awareness of bio-based products and applications. A generic pipeline taking bioactive compounds from discovery to industrial valorisation was created by DISCO, which employed the latest technologies to deliver sustainable bio-sources for high-value plant-derived products. TriForC also built a pipeline to identify and utilise plant-sourced triterpenes, with potential applications in drug design and use in agriculture as biopesticides. The PROMYS project developed synthetic biology-based platforms in the form of optimised cell factories for fermentation, industrial and pharmaceutical applications. Finally, nature inspired, environmentally friendly, high performance anti-fouling coatings were developed by BYEFOULING for use on ships and marine infrastructure.
Lignin in the chemical industry
Today nearly all aromatic chemicals are made from oil-based sources. European researchers proposed to use lignin, a structural component of many plants and algae, as an alternative...
New sustainable pulping technologies
The vision of the pulp and paper industry is to significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions while improving energy and resource efficiency. Hence, a European initiative has...
Nutrient recovery from biowaste for mineral fertiliser production.
Water, food and resource scarcity, alongside increasing waste are among the main challenges humanity will face in the years to come. To take advantage of the waste, European...
Promoting bio-based products to consumers
A bioeconomy uses renewable resources and helps society meet current environmental challenges so consumers need to be aware of the benefits of bio-based products.
Accelerated commercialisation of algae products with pharmaceutical and nutritional potential
European researchers have developed a sustainable source of purified docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). These act as building blocks to create high-value...
Delivering health and wellness products from plants
Bioactive compounds from plant sources are widely used in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and health supplements. These novel, naturally sourced products are more eco-friendly and will...
New anti-fouling treatments
Researchers have tackled the growth of marine organisms such as barnacles on boat hulls. Unlike previous anti-fouling treatments, the development is low-toxic.
Cutting-edge biotechnology provides new approaches to the production of chemicals and therapeutics
Synthetic biology is an emerging technology that promises to create a new manufacturing paradigm with a clear role in the future bioeconomy. Applications are envisaged in important...
Enzyme engineering to boost biotechnology applications
Fusing sugars to small pharmaceutical or food molecules – a process known as glycosylation – can dramatically improve their properties. An EU-funded initiative used advanced...
Sustainable chemicals from algae
An EU-funded project has successfully built a facility that uses algae to recycle industrial carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions into valuable chemicals.
New enzymes for green cosmetics
The cosmetics industry is in need of more sustainable, eco-friendly and cost-effective technologies. Towards this goal, the OPTIBIOCAT project identified novel enzymes from bacteria...
Plant-based bioactive compounds for medical and agrochemical applications
A new strategy to identify a specific class of plant compounds – known as triterpenes – aims to help advance science in several ways. New findings appear quite promising for the...
Biocatalysts for more eco-friendly chemicals
Bio-oxidation has the potential to overcome the environmental impact of current chemical oxidation processes used for the production of chemicals and intermediates, biopolymers,...
Artificial cellular signalling models
Signalling systems allow the cell to perceive its environment and respond accordingly for homeostasis and proper development. Many human diseases, including cancer and diabetes,...
Perfecting the biotechnological production of chitosans
Researches with the EU-funded NANO3BIO project are using specially optimised fungi, bacteria and algae to produce the environmentally-friendly chitosans that serve as raw materials...
Functional peptides for next-gen antibiotics
In the face of growing antimicrobial resistance amongst patients, pharmaceutical companies are looking for new compounds. Peptides provide them with thousands of options, but...
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