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Industrial Biotechnology Innovation and Synthetic Biology Accelerator Preparatory Phase

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - PREP-IBISBA (Industrial Biotechnology Innovation and Synthetic Biology Accelerator Preparatory Phase)

Reporting period: 2020-01-01 to 2021-06-30

Addressing a gap in European biotechnology, IBISBA aims to provide world-class cutting-edge research and innovation services enabling the development of biotechnology as a technology brick of the circular bioeconomy. To achieve this, IBISBA integrates leading public-operated research infrastructure (RI) facilities into a coordinated structure.
From a science and technology standpoint, IBISBA develops new science concepts, tools, and methodologies, underpinning the production of modular, interoperable services that are interlinked in workflows for bioprocess development. To operate as a word-class European distributed RI, IBISBA must become a legal entity displaying all the attributes of a landmark ESFRI. For this, the PREP-IBISBA project focuses on defining IBISBA’s legal status, structure and organization, thus delivering a working concept for IBISBA and allowing its timely implementation as an operational RI.
To begin PREP-IBISBA, management structures and processes were implemented, thus ensuring a smooth project rollout. Importantly, care was taken to properly align PREP-IBISBA with the ongoing H2020 starting community project, IBISBA 1.0. This ensures that interproject synergy is managed and amplified.
Following the project launch, existing IBISBA communication tools were renovated and other instruments, specific to PREP-IBISBA were developed. Consequently, a clear communication and dissemination strategy is in place. Moreover, to promote stakeholder engagement, an attractive and easy to read IBISBA guide document is available to all stakeholders to help them better understand IBISBA. Finally, using results from IBISBA 1.0 PREP-IBISBA has adopted and promoted the registered IBISBA logo and brand names in its communication strategy. Globally, despite the adverse circumstances (i.e. Covid), IBISBA’s visibility has increased.
To develop a business model (BM) for IBISBA, work analyzed BMs of other RIs, including ESFRIs, other public RIs and some commercial R&D&I service providers. This analysis provided data on different BMs and allowed an appraisal of IBISBA’s attractivity and competitivity in the overall industrial biotechnology environment. Further studies focused on the business expectations among organizations that are building IBISBA. Finally, a market survey was performed, interviewing 50 users from both academia and industry. Overall, progress on defining the BM provides the basis to finalize it and build a financial plan during the next period.
Other work focused on the legal structure and organization of IBISBA. RI benchmarking, internal surveys and stakeholder consultation have provided the basis for an important decision on the future legal model. Clearly, ERIC status is preferred, since it is well adapted to achieve IBISBA’s ambitions. Regarding future governance, work reveals that a majority of partners prefer a semi-integrated model that confers the central ERIC-IBISBA structure with significant management and coordination functions, while leaving a degree of autonomy and some functions to national nodes. Finally, the finalization of a MoU provides the basis for partner commitment beyond PREP-IBISBA.
To plan how to develop IBISBA’s scientific and technological capabilities, work focused on defining IBISBA’s Unique Selling Proposition (USP). This has involved a landscape and SWOT analysis, to examine the industrial biotechnology environment and IBISBA’s current capabilities, present in partner facilities. A description of IBISBA’s USP has now been stabilized, providing the basis for future analyses.
Preliminary work also tackled the definition of the critical business processes that will characterize the fully operational RI. To achieve this, work on establishing an inventory of processes was begun and a methodology to create business workflows was developed. As a test case, the one-stop shop function has been analysed and a workflow built. This provides leads on how to improve the one-stop shop.
In PREP-IBISBA a Strategic Advisory Group(SAG) has been established, including a specific Steering Committee (SC) subcomponent composed of member country ministerial representatives. So far, stakeholders and some SAG members met during remote meetings and at 1st SC meeting held in June 2021 (minutes publicly available). Other stakeholder-related activities focused on enumerating the potential user community, engaging Euro-regions and on building and formalizing IBISBA national node communities. In Italy a national node organization has adopted the form of a (distributed) Joint Research Unit, containing facilities from 4 Italian institutions.
E-infrastructure is also an important component of IBISBA. Work in PREP-IBISBA focuses on defining IBISBA’s needs and preparing an e-infrastructure-specific roadmap. So far, activities focused on surveying and reviewing data management capabilities and capacities in partner facilities and reviewing the European e-Infrastructure landscape, focusing on the European Open Science Cloud, thematic RIs and Clusters serving the Biosciences, FAIR initiatives, and community & commercial infrastructures. Other activities focused on drafting a technical service framework and the deployment within this framework of key infrastructure components, notably the IBISBAHub asset management registry, its associated tools. Integration of the IBISBAHub with the infrastructure EOSC-Life Workflow Collaboratory e-infrastructure was also begun. Finally, the IBISBA e-Handbook was expanded to become a fledgling operating handbook for the future ERIC-IBISBA, and (co-)leadership was assumed for metadata standards. These describe and allow registration of metadata for datasets, computational workflows and FAIR digital objects interchange. This work was performed in partnership with EOSC Service, other Life Science RIs and global groups.
Finally, clear vision and mission statements have been defined for IBISBA and a first set of KPIs developed, a part of which is ready for immediate application. Moreover, integrative work was initiated, pulling in results and findings from both IBISBA 1.0 & PREP-IBISBA in order to edit a publicly available IBISBA report.
Global progress so far is satisfactory and aligns well with the project’s aims, especially the creation of ERIC-IBISBA. Activities in the next period will focus on finalizing the business and legal models, devising clear plans to implement these. Other activities will enhance IBISBA’s visibility, build its operational capacity and provide a strong stakeholder base and muster sufficient member country and partner commitment.
By delivering ERIC-IBISBA as an operational and sustainable ESFRI landmark, PREP-IBISBA will generate considerable benefits. In the biotechnology sector, ERIC-IBISBA will accelerate innovations, bringing biobased processes to the market, thus supporting Europe’s recovery plan. Moreover, the successful completion of PREP-IBISBA will support the circular economy transition and thus Europe’s Green Deal, contributing to the development of sustainable industrial solutions, beneficial to society at large.
Finally, PREP-IBISBA is engaged to confer ERIC-IBISBA with a strong e-infrastructure and FAIR compliancy, and good IPR management practices that favor innovation and knowledge sharing. Therefore, the consequences of PREP-IBSIBA will be a significant contribution to Europe’s open science policy, scientific data quality in general and Europe’s ability to innovate.