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Enhance New Approaches in BioBased Local Innovation Networks for Growth

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ENABLING (Enhance New Approaches in BioBased Local Innovation Networks for Growth)

Reporting period: 2017-12-01 to 2019-05-31

ENABLING Project started during December 2017 and involves 16 partners in 13 EU and associated (IL, NO) countries. It aims to support the spreading of best practices and innovation in the provision (production, pre-processing) of biomass for the management and implementation of bio-based products and processes (BBPs) by sustainable biomass from rural areas.

The project responds to the need, felt by practitioners across Europe, of improving and systematising collaboration among the different stakeholders, and in particular between the source of biomass streams, and the processing and transformation industry, or Bio-Based Industry (BBI). So far, biomass production has mainly generated input for bioenergy and biofuels, in sectors characterised by large industrial players and low labour intervention (with few processing steps required, and a ratio of 2 employed persons for 1 million € of turnover). On the other hand, the bio-materials and bio-plastics processes (4 - 5 employed persons for 1 million € of turnover) require higher and specialised labour, thus representing a significant potential for diversification (especially in rural areas) and job creation.

Currently, most biomass supply chains for BBPs (Bio-Based Products and Processes) do not take advantage of structured networks. Most agricultural business involved in the production of biomass for the BBPs do so in a bilateral (and often unbalanced) relationship with their industrial counterpart. The lack of optimised value chains tends to penalise small rural business and tends to hinder economic development on both sides (lack of opportunities for biomass input providers, and lack of reliable supply streams for industry, especially at regional scale).

In this context, Europe bears a huge potential for optimizing the supply of biomass into innovative bio-based processes and products. ENABLING intends to favour a better exploitation of the available biomass in the bio-based industry, by making available science- and practice-based information and favoring Innovation Uptake by practitioners. The entire project is to be considered as a fundamental step, and not a point of arrival per se. It aims at structuring the European Community of stakeholders on biomass to BBPs, with the perspective of creating, after the end of the project, a permanent innovation brokerage platform for the sector.
Activities carried out by partners were initially focused on the set up the Biomass matrix relating to the WP 2 in accordance with all contributions and consideration deriving by all partners of the ENABLING consortium. Many efforts have been employed in order to identify the correct categories of by-products from by biomass of several rural, agro-forestry and agro-industrial sectors for several reasons (Task 2.1). The link among rural residuals to Industrial processes is being investigated by Celignis in close collaboration with all partners.

In WP3, a first guideline has been developed and shared among partners in order to select criteria for identifying the Best Practices by Good practices (Task 3.1). In a further step, the setting up of a suitable format for Best Practices description was carried out in according to EIP-AGRI requirements. In the first half of the project, a complete list of first 45 Best Practices has been collected across Europe (13 Enabling Countries) involving most partners of the project. Coherently with the nature of results obtained and activities (WP2 and WP3) carried out so far, several workshops and webinars have been organized by each partner with the aim of feeding the local stakeholders with appropriate information, training and capacity building events (Task 3.3).

The actions of WP4 partially started in WP3 and provided a more in-depth layer of knowledge and guidance to the targeted stakeholders about emerging trends and innovation in the sector. Here, coaching actions (customized assistance to local businesses willing to adopt a given best practices) are starting to be kicked-off by each partner (Task.4.1). The activities organized in WP4 furthermore include the collection of information on EU project about Bioeeconomy, rural network, research projects on novel technology for BBPs and biomass exploitation as well as a huge collection of scientific articles able to give more details about scientific progress on exploitation of rural residues and technologies. All documents and information were collected by the partners on the specific internal cloud and published on the website available to final users.

Dissemination and Communication actions (WP5) have been launched at the beginning of the project with a setup of the Dissemination Plan (D 5.1) prepared by Core Innovation, WP Leader of Dissemination Work Package. The strategy of Plan has been discussed and confirmed among partners and finally reported in the Deliverable 5.1. Dissemination tools as website and social pages (LinkedIn, Instagram) have been created and regularly updated, on the basis of news and events carried out and organized by the Partners. A special attention was given to dissemination and communication processes towards local audiences for each partner country, to make sure that all potential beneficiaries and stakeholders are exposed to a comparable high-quality level of information, knowledge transferring, both on the best practices identified and on the services (coaching, innovation brokerage) that the project is delivering to them.

Finally, the WP6 (Exploitation) has special importance in the consortium’s roadmap to concretely contribute to the development of a Europe-wide marketplace promoting the matching of biomass residues and BBPs industry offer and demand. A questionnaire was produced to canvas the views of the Enabling Partners and to try to obtain a consensus on the direction of travel for the Exploitation Roadmap and the Business Plan (D6.2). This was seen as a fundamental step in the development of the Feasibility Study and ultimately in the development of the subsequent Business Plan.
At this stage of the project, the first results related to the state of art of biomass residues for BBPs innovative pathways and starting collection of Best Practices have been capitalized with further deployment of potential ENABLING services that will be starting the coming weeks. Therefore, the expected impacts are still relevant but cannot be fully forecasted yet, as long as the ENABLING Services will not fully operative.

The socio-economic impacts have been limited by the fact that the following services foreseen for stakeholders are still in progress:
- Biomass Trade Platform is still to go online
- Best Practice Atlas is still to go online
- Workshops and Webinars are still at the initial phase and therefore bear limited outreach capacity of their contents.
- Coaching and Innovation Brokerage activities have just started

Despite that, the undertaken activities carried out so far are in line with the DoA and expected impacts, therefore, remain unchanged. Dissemination and Innovation-related activities have started at the very beginning of the project, but their impacting potential is exploding only now, and therefore a comparison with the impacts to be expected within the end of the project, set out in DoA, is still difficult to make at the moment.