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Bioconversion of non-agricultural waste into biomolecules for industrial applications


The objective of this topic is to develop biotechnology approaches for the conversion of municipal solid bio-waste fractions and sludgy bio-waste from other industries, like the food industry, as well as from water treatment facilities, into higher added-value bio-based products, such as chemicals and chemical building blocks, biopolymers, materials and bioactive compounds. This includes sustainable downstream steps for product separation and purification. Physico-chemical technologies concomitant to the enzymatic/microbial processes are also needed. Proposals should address the current technical state-of-the-art regarding waste utilisation for bioproducts taking into account the current market and legislative barriers in the EU. The feasibility of integrating the newly developed approach into existing value chains should be assessed and demonstrated.

Proposals should have a strong industry drive and prove the techno-economic viability of the proposed value chain. They need to also take into account the optimisation of the final product's ""end of life"" through, for example, biodegradation or recycling. A life cycle assessment of the entire value chain should be included.

Activities are expected to focus on Technology Readiness Levels 3 to 5.

The participation of SMEs is encouraged.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU between EUR 5 and 7 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Following the principle of a circular economy, industrial by-products and waste from non-agricultural sectors, could be considered feed stock for bio-conversion into value-added industrial products.

However, most of these bio-waste fractions are used nowadays for low-value applications only, such as for energy generation in incineration facilities, as fodder in livestock industries and as fertilisers in agriculture. Therefore, responding to the need to improve industrial resource efficiency, the current main challenges are to identify economically viable links between waste generation and waste utilization, and to develop the necessary technologies (including biotechnologies) for bioconversion of waste into higher added-value products.

  • Develop at least 2 new bio-based value chains, utilising either industrial by-products and/or relevant bio-waste fractions for bio-product generation.
  • Propose outline business plans which include the assessment of the potential impact of the proposed value chains in terms of EU jobs and growths in the short and medium term. The expected impact of the value chains should be clearly described in qualitative and quantitative terms (e.g. in terms of turnover, employment, market size, IP management, sales, return on investment and profit).
  • Demonstrate the environmental feasibility of the proposed value chains and conduct relevant outreach activities.

Proposals should include a business case and exploitation strategy, as outlined in the Introduction to the LEIT part of this Work Programme.