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Create and interlink bio-based education centres to meet industry's needs of skills and competences

Determine the criteria and conditions for bio-based education centres to create dynamic ecosystems that include industry, education institutions, governments, and society. These ecosystems should operate at local, regional and/or national levels.

The scope of this topic includes specifying the need for these centres and testing their feasibility as regards their design, setting-up, running and maintaining, always together with the envisaged partners.

The scope does not include the actual setting up of such an education centre and running it.

Proposals must state the appropriate level (regional, municipal, national etc.) for a bio-based education centre, taking into account the different educational systems across Europe. Proposals should also take into account the different levels of bio-based industry activities, bio-based industry potential, and bio-based industry strategies. Therefore, proposals must design bio-based education centres in at least three different regions/Member States in Europe, preferably one in each of: (i) north-west Europe; (ii) central and eastern Europe; and (iii) Mediterranean Europe. Proposals must also work with relevant partners in the selected regions and test this design with them and with regional stakeholders from industry, academia, government and civil society.

Proposals must include processes, structures and governance plans for bio-based education centres to deliver the needed curricula in vocational and academic settings. In addition, they must contain plans for life-long-learning programmes for the existing workforce. Proposals must also include communication channels to industry and society at large.

When designing bio-based education centres, proposals should investigate the feasibility and usefulness to cooperate with digital innovation hubs40 that deal with specific bio-based challenges and value chains. This cooperation and interlinking could allow the education centres to benefit from existing programmes and provide a holistic approach (education, technology, business) for the bio-based industrial sector.

Proposals must also include the considerations of necessary actions for sustaining bio-based education centres once they are up and running. These actions must include: (i) plans for a governance structure; (ii) a realistic budget for running and maintaining the education centre (at local, regional and/or national level); and (iii) a financial plan for its funding in the short and long term.

Proposals must also include guidelines for connecting bio-based education centres across Europe and creating EU added value. One example of the added value the proposal could bring is the provision of a common framework of standards and skills, tailored and complemented as needed for application at local levels. This network should align with other programmes on education to avoid duplication of work. These other programmes include action 2.4 in the updated bioeconomy strategy on education and skills; the European cooperation in science and technology actions; and the sector skills alliances of the Erasmus+ programme, the ‘bioeconomy skills gap analysis’ and the ‘bioeconomy university curricula’ from the Horizon 2020 Societal Challenge 2 call 2020.

It is considered that proposals requesting a maximum of EUR 1.5 million and for a planned duration of not more than 3 years would be able to address this specific challenge appropriately. However, this does not preclude the submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts or for other durations.

Due to its cross-sectoral nature and (relative) novelty, the bio-based industry requires a set of skills and competencies that are not available in some regions, but that are available — and taught — in certain academic and vocational schools.

Part of the process of closing the skills gap is increased cooperation between industry and the academic world. In some countries and regions, there is already interaction between the bio-based industry, academia and government. This cooperation occurs in training or innovation centres that mostly focus on joint projects or initiatives. In some regions, these centres also have education projects to meet industry’s future needs for skills, and to meet the training needs of the existing workforce. The existing centres typically focus on their regional situation and needs, benefiting local SMEs in particular. There is very little coordination between existing centres.

Industry would like bio-based ‘education centres’ to interact with education institutions on the skills that will be needed in the future, and on the skills that are needed by the existing workforce. Also, although regional centres focus on local needs, connecting these centres to each other will help them to draw up a common framework of standards and skills that could be tailored for local application. Increasing interaction in this way will also benefit the society at large and the bioeconomy in general.

The specific challenge to increase cooperation between the bio-based industry and the education system to avoid skills and competences gaps.


  • regularly align the needs for skills and availability of skills through consistent interactions between the bio-based industry and educational institutions at local, regional, national and European levels;
  • prevent skills gaps in the bio-based industry;
  • maintain industrial activities and provide jobs and income for local communities;
  • provide education and learning opportunities for community members and increase their employability;
  • provide early insight into career opportunities for graduates at vocational and university levels;
  • provide opportunities to educate citizens (consumers, politicians, researchers, industry, etc.) on bio-based activities and sustainability.

NUMBER OF PROJECTS: a maximum of one project will be funded under this topic.

EXPECTED DURATION: up to 3 years.

TYPE OF ACTION: Coordination and support action.