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A European technology platform on industrial biotechnology for sustainable development

Final Report Summary - WHITE BIOTECH TP (A European Technology Platform on Industrial Biotechnology for Sustainable Development)

The project intended to establish an European Technology Platform for Industrial or White Biotechnology (WB) (called SusChem-IB), involving the key stakeholders from academia, industry, the Commission and the European Parliament, Member States and citizens' representatives. This would be essential to unleash this exploitation potential, while removing barriers, setting out coherent policies and creating broad public awareness of the potential benefits to society at large.

This project would contribute to strengthen the European Research Area and to achieve the Lisbon objectives by countering the current fragmentation, by agreeing on a coherent Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) and by delivering an Action Plan to implement the recommendations of the Vision Paper.

The initial work performed in this project was aimed at achieving a broad stakeholder basis. Contacts from all partners were used within academia and industry to identify and invite stakeholders to participate in the Platform.

SUSCHEM achieved a broad stakeholder base with participants from academia, industry, national and regional governments and authorities, trade unions, NGOs, the financial community and the European Commission. Almost all European Member States were represented in SUSCHEM. SUSCHEM was widely recognised as a unique and valuable opportunity to increase European research efforts in sustainable chemistry.

A Policy Committee was established informally to develop the Policy Agenda with experts from industry and the members of Steering Committee.

SUSCHEM established a Member States Mirror Group, which gathered representatives from the national research programmes. For the industrial biotech section additional contact with Member States was established via ERA-IB - the European Research Area Network on Industrial Biotechnology. ERA-IB was constituted by representatives of public organization managing industrial biotech research programmes in 14 Member States.

With the Member States Mirror Group, and close cooperation with the European Research Area Network on Industrial Biotechnology, the SusChem-IB messages found their echo into the respective national governments and thus helped to align European research efforts in this area.

With the strategic alliance of stakeholder, which was continuously broaden during the project, a Vision for Industrial Biotech was developed as consensus paper defining the main targets for the sector at the horizon 2025 for the sector.

The platform was established based on the Vision Papers for Sustainable Chemistry and for Industrial Biotechnology, by the main European stakeholders. The aim was to transform leading scientific knowledge in Europe into innovation for sustainable socio-economic growth creating a knowledge-based bioeconomy. To guarantee a consistent long-term development of this field in the EU, the Industrial Biotechnology section of the SUSCHEM Technology Platform:
- Established a strategic alliance of stakeholders.
- Formed a flexible but comprehensive governance structure.
- Developed a coherent Strategic Research Agenda.
- Developed an Action Plan focusing on structural policy measures to provide incentives and to overcome barriers for the introduction of Industrial Biotechnology.
- Initiated the implementation of the Action Plan and the monitoring of the initial implementation to steer and revise the implementation plan as the platform developed.

After setting the objectives for the development of the European IB sector in the Vision, the next step was to define the key research priorities to overcome technological bottlenecks.

The Strategic Research Agenda concentrated on defining and discussing the research needed to support the vision. For biotechnology to thrive, the key objectives for industry were:
- The development and production of novel, innovative products and processes in a coast- and eco-efficient manner, increasingly using renewable raw materials.
- The discovery and optimization of improved microbial strains and biocatalysts.

To meet these broad objectives, key research and technology areas were defined and analysed separately in more detail so that opportunities and bottlenecks were identified and research priorities proposed to support the technological development of Industrial Biotechnology and its applications in various industrial sectors. Seven research and technology areas were identified and each contributed to the improvement of industrial bioprocesses and bioproducts.

The work for the Implementation Action Plan (IAP) was divided in two aspects: implementation of the research priorities and the development of an enabling policy framework for industrial biotech and the biobased economy.

The Implementation Action Plan (IAP) explained how research priorities that were identified in the SRA could be implemented. For each research theme it described in detail the issues that needed to be addressed to attain its respective potential.

Industrial Biotechnology priorities and activities were focused around to the two major themes of application: bioeconomy and bioenergy.

The first step towards the development of Industrial Biotechnology as an integrant part of the Bioeconomy was to establish a common Vision across sectors and stakeholders, which was carried out by setting-up the European technology Platform on Sustainable Chemistry and the development of a consensus Vision Paper.

The second part of the Implementation Action Plan, the Industrial Biotech Policy Agenda focused on structural policy measures to provide incentives and overcome barriers for the introduction and development of Industrial Biotechnology and to raise awareness, communicate its impacts to the general public and promote public acceptance of this new technology.