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Creating links to speed-up innovation in the bio economy

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - BioLinX (Creating links to speed-up innovation in the bio economy)

Reporting period: 2017-01-01 to 2018-06-30

BioLinX is funded under ISIB-08-b. Via ISIB-08 the European Commission wanted to address two distinctive challenges related to the development of the Bioeconomy, being a) overcoming the lack of information and public debate on the Bioeconomy and b) facilitate the flow from discovery to market applications and to speed up the innovation process.
BioLinX is contributing towards bridging research and innovation efforts in the bio-economy. BioLinX used a three wave approach in which it analysed FP7 and H2020 projects and potentially relevant regions. The support to projects consisted of 5 different activities, being: i) Broadening the network by providing a database of Bioeconomy professionals and organizations, ii) Adding intelligence by providing an intelligence database of articles, Patent database and project database, iii) providing Incubation support by (e.g.) organizing new consortia, initiate project proprosal, iv) adding Entrepreneurial skills via trainings and webinars and finally v) providing support to attract private capital and/or public funding.
In order to learn and steer the project BioLinX made use of the Reflective Monitoring framework. BioLinX was furthermore complemented with activities on advocacy, communication and dissemination.
The set up of BioLinX is to work via three waves. In our waves we approached a total of 725 contacts, reaching a total of 509 unique projects. In wave 1 BioLinX worked with a list compiled by the EC based on FP7s KBBE framework. In wave 2 BioLinX worked with a list composed of projects from FP7, H2020, INTERREG IV, ESIF/EARDF and LIFE. For wave 3 we used the 166 projects that were impacted during the first two waves. Despite the huge effort of reaching out the projects, only a few project(-coordinator)s replied. Most dominant challenges found in the projects are still finance, scale-up and (access to) market / customers.
Next to analyzing projects, BioLinX also analysed regions. Based on the combination of various sources (RIS3, Vanguard, ERRIN) BioLinX compiled a long list resulting in 12 different regions to be analysed. The analysis has been shared with the BIOPEN project as a way of heritage. Most dominant challenges in the regions are lack of financial instruments, fragmented R&D and lack of long term policies.
BioLinX organized various brokerage events (Breda, Vicenza, Bergen op Zoom, Örnskoldsvik, Dublin, Grangemouth, Gothenburg, Milan and Leipzig). The brokerage events brought together 570 persons representing the 226 European projects supported via Brokerage. During the brokerage events various project partners from European projects were invited to present their (business) case as well as regional parties. The major shift made was that the events in Gothenburg and Milan were more oriented towards the dominant regional industrial innovation approach or dominant regional industrial focus in order to attract and support more projects.
BioLinX also provided incubation services to interested parties like grant scans, project initiation, linking to new partners, review of pojects ideas etc. As a result of the brokerage 54 project have been supported. In total BioLinX provided support to 269 unique projects (11 projects made use of BioLinX via brokerage and incubation).
BioLinX also provided entrepreneurial training and VC events (Finance Academy). In the Netherlands (Bergen op Zoom), the first entrepreneurial trainings and Finance Academy took place in combination with business development and another brokerage event. A total of 12 companies resulting in 8 companies actually pitching the next day. The Finance Academy was received very positive by the participants and the concept was thus copied to the events in Sweden and Italy. Each event had a two day approach. The first day the participants received the entrepreneurial training, the next day the participants could show their learnings to the experts and a new audience. As with the Dutch Finance Academy, the Academies in Sweden and Italy were in conjunction with a brokerage event to maximise the outreach for the participants of the Finance Academies. In Sweden 9 out of 14 registered companies participated in the Finance Academies and in Italy 11 out of 14 registered companies participated.
Next to the Finance Academies BioLinX also organized an entrepreneurial training on IP and Lifecycling Thinking, a webinar on creating a high growth biobased company and a webinar on translating life cycle thinking into LCA. For the webinars external experts were invited as guest speakers and were guided by BioLinX project partners.
Next to attracting private finance BioLinX also organized events (Bergen op Zoom, Halle, Düsseldorf, Leipzig and Strasborg) and a series of 4 webinars on finding public funds as well. During the events to opportunities for public funding have been discussed, the webinars ranged from LIFE, to ERANET, to MSCA and BBI.
Furthermore, BioLinX provided a Partnering and Intelligence Platform. The BioLinX Intelligence platform provides access to the database of research and development projects, the database of patents from the European Patent Office and the Open Access repositories of Scientific Papers. The Partnering Platform allowed BioLinX to host 9 online events. The first few online partnering events were part of the onsite events in Netherlands, Italy and Sweden. This approach was however changed to sole online partnering events to avoid any confusion to people participating to events.
In order to be adaptive, BioLinX used the framework of Reflective Monitoring. Applying the Reflective Monitoring helped BioLinX to not only steer the project but also to improve the way the offerings were communicated to ‘the world’. The identification of success stories was really beneficial to BioLinX. By using the success stories the supported party became the centre piece and BioLinX could then easily explain the services provided. Working in waves allowed BioLinX to grow its Interregional Bio-Economy Experts Panel (IBEEP) to 42 members.
Based on its communication and dissemination activities BioLinX reached out to a large audience varying from the scientific community, to policy makers, to general public. By using the Partnering Platform and the partners networks BioLinX already reached out to over 100.000 contacts. As exploitable results BioLinX identified the following: BioLinX regional analysis, which is shared with BIOPEN project. BioLinX Intelligence database, which is also part of the BIOPEN project. The Reflective Monitoring which could be offered as a training to increase project learnings. The use of Success Stores to explain the success of EU projects. The BioLinX Policy Recommendations as made available via the website and finally the board game developed by TNO (BioEconomie Region – Shared Innovation game).
In total BioLinX supported 269 unique projects via its linking and support activities. More than 48 SMEs participated in the Finance Academies and Entrepreneurial trainings. BioLinX created new links, projects and brought people together. E.g. a Swedish SME is now in contact with a company based in The Netherlands, using its technology in a market that the Swedish SME did not consider before joining the Finance Academy. A Dutch SME made a switch in business model and an Italian researcher found new partners with the Biobased Industries context and two Italian partners are in the process of signing a NDA.