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CommBeBiz - Communicating and Bridging BioEconomy Research to Business

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - CommBeBiz (CommBeBiz - Communicating and Bridging BioEconomy Research to Business)

Reporting period: 2016-09-01 to 2018-02-28

CommBeBiz's objective was to support FP7, H2020 & other EC funded research projects, working across the bioeconomy to ‘transfer’ their work, results, intellectual and practical 'products' to the stakeholders who can utilise such knowledge, processes and products for the benefit of the European community. The challenge currently is that not enough of that knowledge reaches those stakeholders, due to lack of awareness, strategic communications & knowledge transfer/exchange planning & active & targeted outreach.
CommBeBiz re-oriented its focus when it became clear that the objectives of bringing new products to market & establishment of new businesses were not achievable due to external factors. CommBeBiz took appropriate proactive action when that risk (already identified in the proposal) became a reality. The project worked to ensure (1) projects delivering social, policy & scientific innovation were welcomed & catered for alongside those with a focus on commercialisation; (2) individual researchers were targeted by offering skills development and networking opportunities
Due to on-going challenges throughout the project of engaging with funded projects, CommBeBiz focused its attention as much on attracting individual researchers to engage, attend & contribute to the range of activities as well as on projects. This change in strategy, supported by intensive promotion, new & revised actions, resulted in improved on-line membership & take up of face-to-face opportunities, which have driven skills development and linked projects to external stakeholders across industry, policy and media.
CommBeBiz partners worked to achieve the over-arching objective of engagement by understanding the needs of the projects & researchers involved, engaging them via activities that met those needs, and most importantly evaluating the effectiveness of those actions, so that not only the project itself but also other actors offering support to projects can learn from the experiences of CommBeBiz. The research work undertaken with CommBeBiz Award winners to identify the motivations and behaviour of researchers, with regard to engagement and outreach, helped underpin the project’s understanding of what might work best.
The final core deliverable of the project, the BeBizBlueprint, was published online and available in hard copy from 28 February 2018.
A survey of recently funded and started H2020 bioeconomy research projects was undertaken by CommBeBiz in Period 2. The purpose of this surveys was to ask about the needs and wishes of projects and provide starting points for partners to plan with and provide those specific services and opportunities to projects. The actions on offer included the co-creation of project briefs; participation in webinars and testinars (a combination of webinars with ‘testing’ of the information shared by experts); contribution of materials for the annual Bioeconomy Innovation magazine; provision of training in communications; application for Awards and Bursaries to provide access to CommBeBiz Academies and business mentors; attendance at the annual networking events; participation in competitions, plus joining the online bioeconomy research community with access to all resources, information and training materials online.
Project partners reinvigorated their efforts to engage with the bioeconomy research community, endeavouring to make it easy for more individuals to say ‘yes’ to participation by providing reshaped opportunities to develop understanding and skills.
From Awards to Bursaries (WP5) Instead of participation in a competition, projects were invited to request a bursary to attend one of five Academies.
Website development (WP2, WP3): the development of the web platform and assessment of its ability to support recruitment and retention continued throughout Period 2. There were 68,969 website page views up to February 2018.
Media and social media (WP2, WP4): Pracsis and Minerva discussed and agreed tactics to increase media engagement, which remained problematic. Social media CommBeBiz utilized the two most appropriate social media channels for science and researchers – Twitter and LinkedIn. Research by Teagasc (in 2016) found that while many researchers favoured using social media to disseminate their successes to wide sections of society, they choose to focus their most extensive online engagement efforts towards the scholarly community.
Publications (WP4, WP6, WP2) – The ability to co-create a Project Brief was one of the most tangible benefits of engaging with CommBeBiz, positioned as a supplementary addition to traditional project literature. 45 were published and available on-line by the end of Period 2. Three publications were issued as full colour, attractive magazines, entitled Bioeconomy Innovation. The BeBizBlueprint (WP6), the final major deliverable of the project, summarises the key learnings and experiences of the project, collated into key messages for a range of organisations and sectors that make up the ‘Ecosystem’ surrounding the research community.
Skills development (WP2, WP4) The major focus of Period 2 was the design and delivery of online and face-to-face training and development opportunities and resources for researchers. 27 Online webinars of various styles continue to be available in recorded form; ‘real time’ communications courses, bespoke by invitation from organisations or agencies, or organised by CommBeBiz, have been held attracting a range of delegates.
Outreach meetings (WP2). In Period 2, CommBeBiz participated in a range of meetings, all focused on the bioeconomy. Annual meetings (WP3) As planned in the DoA, three annual networking meetings open to all were delivered – two in Period 2 (London, led by Minerva, and Budapest, led by EBN). Taking the title of Bioeconomy Impact for all three events, the programme focused on specific workshops as preferred by delegates with plenty of networking time.
Photo Competition (WP3) Introduced by partner Teagasc to encourage more projects and researchers to engage. 90 entries were received for the 2016 competition, 107 in 2017 and 75 in 2018.
Through its programme of work of engaging with researchers and projects, online and face-to-face, providing training opportunities via webinars, networking via meetings and on-line, organising access to industry and policy contacts, by engaging with the mainstream, specialist and online media and utilising social media, CommBeBiz provided effective support to researchers to cascade their ideas, knowledge and innovative approaches effectively to targeted stakeholders and therefore support the uptake of research knowledge and results. Through its research and evaluation activities CommBeBiz has also provided increased understanding of researcher attitudes and motivations to enhance the design of future support programmes. In the field of the Bioeconomy, the perception and understanding of the public and key segments of it is vital to ensure that new ideas, approaches and products are known, accepted and adopted. The work of CommBeBiz, with its members, with the media, social media, training of bioeconomy researchers to communicate more effectively, and by providing peer-to-peer support and direct targeted contacts contributed to the drive towards innovation and sustainability.
Bozena Poldask, BioHorizon NCP project leading a workshop at CBB London meeting
Kevin Egan, University College Cork, winner CBB 2018 Photo Competition
Attendees and mentors of the CBB Academy in Budapest
CBB Bioeconomy Impact meeting in Budapest, hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture