Skip to main content

Priorities for Addressing Opportunities and Gaps of Industrial Biotechnology for an efficient use of funding resources

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - PROGRESS (Priorities for Addressing Opportunities and Gaps of Industrial Biotechnology for an efficient use of funding resources)

Reporting period: 2016-08-01 to 2017-10-31

Industrial biotechnology (IB) employs organisms or parts thereof such as tissues, cells, cell extracts or isolated enzymes in order to produce a wide range of products including food and feed, consumer products (laundry and dish washing agents), building blocks for chemical synthesis as well as pharmaceuticals. Biotechnological production processes offer numerous technological and economical advantages compared to classical chemical syntheses (i.e. products of superior quality or with novel functions). More-over, biotechnological production processes typically use renewable, non-fossil raw materials. Therefore, IB is considered to be one of the most promising, innovative approaches towards providing solutions for two of the major challenges of the future: the transformation from a fossil towards a bio-based economy and providing innovative health care solutions (including biopharmaceuticals and novel therapies) for an aging European population.
However, there is high uncertainty how to deploy IB and how to harness its potential for the economy and society.
Overall aim of this project was to support and accelerate the deployment of IB in the EU industry by identifying high-value opportunities for IB and proposing actions to address them successfully. This CSA concludes that Industrial Biotechnology has a very high potential to contribute to economic and societal goals in Europe, but there are additional actions needed for needed for the realization of the full potential of IB. Therefore, technological advances in IB are crucial but have to be embedded a wider set of favorable framework conditions are.
The project was composed of three sequential phases:
In Phase 1 we assessed the current situation of the IB in Europe (“where do we stand?”), and provide an outlook on the potential developments in the short/middle term of 5-10 years. This included an extensive information collection and analysis of the innovation potentials, opportunities, demand drivers, barriers, risks that are likely to occur in the short/ medium term.
In Phase 2 we elaborated potential desirable, realistically achievable future paths for the six value chains for IB, namely lignocellulosic ethanol, bio-based plastics, enzymes, Production of biopharmaceuticals, biotechnologically produced flavours and fragrances, microbiomes for food and healthy nutrition. The insights regarding key factors for future development of these value chains were eventually be combined into an integrated vision for the future of IB in Europe.
In Phase 3 we deduced the future R&D&I needs, related innovation topics and needs of actions to put into action the prospects. As prerequisite for Europe to remain in a leadership position in the global competition in IB industry in the future, interregional and international collaborations will have to be intensified. Therefore, collaboration opportunities and beneficial framework conditions to incentivize cross-country collaboration as well as potential strategies for country groups with regard to their capacities were identified.
In these phases various different results were elaborated, containing various quantitative (system dynamics modeling, analysis of European Manufacturing Survey for biotechnology, patent analysis) and qualitative results (scenarios, value chain assessments).

The analyses point out that for a favourable development of IB in Europe a set of different factors has to evolve positively, such as maintaining competitiveness in future technological developments, aligning supply to customer needs, adjusting policy instruments, etc. In order to maintain a strong and leading position of the EU in IB and to realize its socio-economic potential, a broad portfolio of IB technologies, products, processes and applications should be supported by a comprehensive and coherent policy framework and a set of well-balanced, targeted policy actions. R&D&I policy and corresponding actions are an integral part of this framework.
Therefore, a set of recommendations has been elaborated that contains a broad range of aspects.

The results have been disseminated intensively to the IB community and the broader public. Besides various Deliverables, including a summarizing Brochure, which will be published on the Website, the results were presented at different events. Those events have been partly organized in the project itself, such as five workshops and the Final Conference. Besides, the results were presented at three events organized form the OECD and in addition on various conferences. Articles in journals to approach the scientific community as well as press release are planned.
The project identifies opportunities for Industrial Biotechnology in the EU, but also regarding collaboration between EU member states. Therefore a set of detailed recommendations has been elaborated and resulting actions proposed. These recommendations are based on an integrated analysis that considers technological, societal, political, demand, acceptance dimensions. For that purpose a multidisciplinary approach is conducted, with the integration of desk research, statistical modelling, new indicators for the adoption of IB; qualitative assessment and synthesis of data and stakeholder information and perspectives on a detailed level. In the workshops around 100 experts from the community participated and exchanged their views and intensified European wide networking. This overall approach provides good and non-biased understanding and adequate knowledge for action that takes into account the close relatedness of technological and non-technological factors and the importance of the societal goals.

To the extent, the various actors transfer the elaborated recommendations into practice and use the new network contacts that have been built up in this CSA, the development of IB in the EU will step forward towards higher innovation and commercialization outcomes in alignment with the societal goals. Consequently, IB would provide increasing contributions to economic and societal goals. E.g. studies that explicitly focus on future impact of IB for economic development are highlighting a positive outlook for future growth and net employment gains. Moreover IB is a key source of innovation towards the gradual re-placement of fossil resources by biological resources in order to contribute to societal goals such as mitigating climate change, lowering resource use, increasing food security.
Project structure