The Industrial Biotech Research and Innovation Platforms Centre - towards Technological Innovation and solid foundations for a growing industrial biotech sector in Europe
This will involve:
- Analysis of existing knowledge bank relating to market, research and institutional barriers hindering uptake of IB technology innovations into the market place
- Engagement with a broad range of stakeholders across the full multidisciplinary IB spectrum to update, develop and validate these innovation barriers to market entry
- Formulation of a roadmap of action plans and policy recommendations for accelerated uptake of IB into a number of targeted product segment areas
Bio-TIC will compile an in-depth preparation of three “interim roadmaps” comprising market projections, R&D priorities and non-technological barriers to IB market entry. These will act to guide and facilitate a series of convened stakeholder workshops at both national and European level for a full discussion on innovation barriers, in order to validate and further elaborate more comprehensive roadmaps, while taking on board the totality of views from the diverse IB stakeholder base. Finally, the partners will collate and further refine the developed roadmaps into a joint European IB Roadmap and Policy recommendations document, with maximum stakeholder buy-in for wide dissemination and maximum impact.
The project will be co-ordinated by EuropaBio- the European Association for Biotechnology Industries, who will also be joined by CEFIC, the European Chemical Industry Council, representing the European chemical industry. These will be joined in the consortium by a further 9 members incorporating innovation agencies, cluster organisations and private management consultancies; all of whom have many complementary skills and expertise and who have worked together in the past on similar initiatives.
EUROPABIO - The European Association of Bioindustries
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Grant agreement ID: 312121
1 August 2012
31 July 2015
€ 2 809 777,60
€ 1 995 798
EUROPABIO - The European Association of Bioindustries
Boosting industrial biotechnology
The aim of the EU-funded BIO-TIC (The Industrial Biotech Research and Innovation Platforms Centre - towards Technological Innovation and solid foundations for a growing industrial biotech sector in Europe) project was to identify and overcome barriers to widespread market uptake of IB, in order to increase competitiveness. Scientists focused on the five product groups with the greatest potential for Europe and delivered recommendations for overcoming obstacles to innovation. The product groups were chosen based on criteria relating to their breakthrough potential, socioeconomic benefits and environmental impact. Four of the five product areas (bio-surfactants, biofuels for transport, bioplastics and chemical precursors to other products) exploited biomass. The fifth product group turned carbon dioxide from fossil fuel combustion, such as that found in exhaust gases at power plants, into novel products. An in-depth review of the technological barriers affecting the five sectors demonstrated a considerable overlap between the research and development needs of the five businesses studied. The single most important obstacle was found to be the lack of cost competitiveness of EU IB-derived products. Researchers developed a prototype tool by which the sustainability of IB products can be measured. This will aid assessments of the comparative advantages of IB products both compared to fossil equivalents, and between different IB products. This will enable consumers and end users to clearly identify the products which have the best sustainability credentials. The tool will also help industry, policymakers and academia in their work on sustainability-criteria for bio-based products. This will further stimulate the market introduction of bio-based alternatives with significant predicted environmental benefits. Project partners also developed and tested methodologies for assessing how much biomass is used for industrial products in the EU. Such a methodology is crucial to accurately assessing the impact of policies in this area and for proposing remedial actions to promote the sector where needed. BIO-TIC successfully fostered a positive environment for IB innovation in Europe. A better competitive position and faster development of new products will increase jobs for EU citizens and reduce the environmental impact of their work.
Grant agreement ID: 312121
1 August 2012
31 July 2015
€ 2 809 777,60
€ 1 995 798
EUROPABIO - The European Association of Bioindustries
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Final Report Summary - BIO-TIC (The Industrial Biotech Research and Innovation Platforms Centre - towards Technological Innovation and solid foundations for a growing industrial biotech sector in Europe)
Industrial Biotechnology (IB) derived products are projected to offer significant potential for overcoming many of the socio-economic and environmental challenges facing the EU today. However, the magnitude of this potential, and how it can be achieved remain uncertain.
The BIO-TIC project has shown that the EU market for IB-derived products is expected to increase from 28 billion euro in 2013 to 50 billion euro in 2030. This represents a compounded growth rate of 7% per annum. This growth will be largely driven by projected increases in the consumption of bioethanol and biobased plastics, while new products such as aviation biofuels are expected to be commercialised in this period and also gain in market share. However, despite this potential, significant barriers remain and hamper the full exploitation of industrial biotechnology based production in Europe.
A comprehensive, multi-step stakeholder consultation process was undertaken to assess what were the barriers to IB in Europe and their potential solutions. This showed that the principal barrier to European industrial biotechnology development was cost-competitiveness, both compared to fossil alternatives and compared to other regions of the world. This was affected by many factors including the cost of feedstock, technology readiness levels, and the market support for biobased products. The cost competitiveness issue was compounded by difficulties in accessing finance for large scale projects, an often low end user awareness of IB derived products and by a lack of skills and operational alliances to drive the sector forward. Ten principal actions which could help overcome these hurdles were developed. These cover feedstock issues (improve the opportunities for feedstock producers within the bioeconomy, investigate the scope for using novel biomass), processing issues (promote the use of co-products from processing, improve the bioconversion and downstream processing steps, identify, leverage and build upon EU capabilities for pilot and demonstration facilities), investment challenges (introduce a long-term, stable and transparent policy and incentive framework to promote the bioeconomy, and improve access to finance for large-scale projects) and support for innovation more generally (develop the skills needed now and in the future for the IB industry, assess and improve public perception and awareness of IB and biobased products, develop stronger relationships between conventional and non-conventional players).
As well as identifying issues surrounding IB in innovation in Europe, BIO-TIC started to tackle some of them too. A partnering tool was developed to overcome the fragmentation of expertise in industrial biotechnology in Europe. It provides access to thousands of companies, universities, research institutions and various other stakeholders of the European biobased community and enables users to identify and contact potential cooperation and business partners across Europe. A prototype tool was also developed to clearly show the environmental benefits of IB products. A methodology to assess how much biomass is used for industrial products was developed, acting as a basis for further work in this area.
Project Context and Objectives:
Worldwide, there is an increasing recognition of the importance of developing the bioeconomy as a route to tackling some of the huge modern global societal challenges, including climate change, dwindling fossil resources, and the need for the development of a more sustainable and resource-efficient economy. Biobased industries, in particular, can have significant positive benefits for the renaissance of rural economies, promoting the efficient use of agricultural resources, as well as creating and safeguarding rural jobs. Since the adoption of the Bioeconomy Strategy by the European Commission in 2012, the visibility and importance of this sector has increased significantly, and industrial biotechnology (IB) has rightly been recognised as a key enabling technology for accessing the potential of the bioeconomy. In times of dwindling resources, the role of IB has become increasingly important. As a key enabling technology it can help create high value jobs and lead to sustained growth in Europe, but the magnitude of this growth, and the routes to achieving this, remained unclear. BIO-TIC was developed to address these unknowns. In particular, BIO-TIC’s objectives were to:
1. Obtain a comprehensive overview of the market potential for IB.
One of the key objectives of the BIO-TIC project was to draw up a blueprint document of recommendations for overcoming the innovation hurdles within a selection of targeted business case segments that could make a major contribution to an accelerated take-up of IB into the market place. This included identification of the market, research and development, and major non-technological (regulatory and political) hurdles facing the sector.
BIO-TIC aimed to utilise a comprehensive stakeholder identification and consultation process to identify the hurdles to IB innnovation in Europe and to formulate actions to overcome them.
2. Outline the ‘size of the prize’ for IB in Europe to 2030
Prior to the BIO-TIC project, there was a lack of a comprehensive picture on the market potential of bio-based products as the various estimates presented were not commensurable. The main differences stemmed from varying product definitions and geographical scoping, but also from the actual focus of the available market studies: some reports illustrated production capacity while others focused on actual production volume, production value or demand value. In addition, many earlier market estimates have become outdated due to recent developments such as the global financial crisis and the shale gas boom. Moreover, many of the previously published market analyses were carried out without close co-operation with stakeholders, who, coming from different sectors, often have divergent views (indeed, the BIO-TIC project has shown that experts from research, industry and administration backgrounds had slightly different views on the status of IB sector and prioritisation of the innovation hurdles). There was also a lack of solid understanding whether all product segments in the European IB sector were struggling with the same market hurdles or whether there were major differences between products and regions.
BIO-TIC aimed to provide a comprehensive overview of the market potential for IB in Europe, drawing upon the input of IB related stakeholders from diverse backgrounds (e.g. large industries and SMEs, industry associations and academia).
3. Develop a clear, actionable roadmap to achieving a competitive IB industry in Europe by 2030
Despite the major drivers for its application, several hurdles continue to hamper the full exploitation of IB's potential today. Several roadmaps for IB exist, however they have generally been limited in scope, often with a geographical (e.g. national) or sectoral (e.g. biotechnology in textiles) focus, that does not fully reflect the broad IB landscape as it exists today. Moreover, the IB sector is one of rapid change and development, both in terms of technological developments but also in terms of the accompanying social and economic issues which it can address, and policy and regulatory factors which can promote the sector. There was therefore a need to pull all of this information together into a coherent document, which reflected the reality of the current situation.
BIO-TIC aimed to obtain a clear overview and insight into the hurdles for IB with regard to research and development and policy and regulatory issues. It aimed to identify R&D priorities, needs for pilot and demonstration plant activities and the key market entry barriers preventing IB innovation in Europe, going beyond the recommendations in the Lead Market Initiative on biobased products. The overall aim was to develop a study for policy makers on the market potential for, and how to overcome hurdles to IB innovation in Europe.
4. Show how much biomass is being used for biobased products and processes.
One of the main problems in the evaluation of the bioeconomy is the lack of data and insights into bio-based processes and products. The main databases of the EU, especially EUROSTAT, are not made to give these insights on the special questions for the bioeconomy in Europe. They contain lots of information for agriculture, production and trade, but are not usable when it comes to specific questions on data for the utilisation of biomass in Europe. A methodology to assess this kind of information to get a better understanding on the existing bioeconomy, its progress and hurdles is needed. This will eventually permit annual assessment and reporting on the amount of biomass used for biobased products in the EU or in specific sectors. This will also allow the establishment of an efficient strategy for biomass use in the EU, with the above mentioned reporting framework complementing the reporting framework for biomass in energy under Directive 2009/28/EC and EurObserv’ER reports.
BIO-TIC aimed to develop a common framework to describe the definitions, standards, datasources and processes to allow regular reporting on the use of biomass and IB for non-food and non-energy purposes.
5. Provide clear indicators to measure the socio-economic and environmental impacts of IB
The sustainability of biomass feedstock for bioenergy is guaranteed by a plethora of binding sustainability certification schemes. No binding sustainability targets exist however for biobased materials, although some voluntary initiatives such as RSB and ISSC+ have emerged over the past few years. The wider environmental impact in terms of land use, life cycle analysis, emissions and biodegradability are generally unclear or presented in haphazard ways.
Consumers and end users are increasingly confused by the diversity of claims regarding the environmental impact of IB and to what extent different products meet different schemes.
BIO-TIC aimed to develop a basic online tool to demonstrate the socio-economic and environmental impacts for different IB products, thus helping consumers and end users understand to what extent different IB products met various sustainability criteria.
6. Overcome the fragmentation of expertise in the IB area allowing the development of new partnerships and alliances.
The very interdisciplinary nature of IB represents both a chance and a problem: it offers a chance to establish sustainable, innovative business models, but at the same time the challenge is to bring together players from different disciplines and cultures. To promote communication among experts from all pertinent areas of IB, a comprehensive communication platform is required, enabling experts to meet and exchange ideas simply and effectively. This platform should bring together the IB value chain community, providing partnering mechanisms to match market demand (pull) with technology supply (push) sides.
BIO-TIC aimed to develop a web-based partnering platform which could bring together experts within the IB community within a single, central, European online platform. The aim of the platform was to bring together organisations to ‘think outside of the box’ and help develop novel collaborations, thus boosting European innovation in IB.
7. Demonstrate how IB can provide solutions for different industrial sectors.
IB is a broad technology, with a multitude of different possible applications. IB has been used for thousands of years in the production of many well-known, everyday household products such as cheese, bread, wine and beer. More recently, IB has been used in the production of antibiotics, active ingredients for washing powders, nutritional substitutes as well as food and feed materials. More recently still, IB has been used to produce biofuels, such as bioethanol, as well as biobased chemicals and biobased plastics on a commercial scale. However, IB has the potential to do much more – not only producing biobased products, but improving the resource efficiency of conventional (fossil-based) industrial processes, reducing the use of toxins through bioremediation. In other words, IB offers the potential for the traditional chemical industry. The diversity of these applications to industries both in the biobased, traditional chemical industry and more broadly need to be made more widely known. There is no one single resource where people can see the diversity of IB applications in one place.
The BIO-TIC project aimed to update the existing IB product profiles on the bioeconomy.net website, and develop profiles on emerging IB applications such as bioremediation and bioprospecting which could be of interest outside the usual bioeconomy community. BIO-TIC also aimed to compile information on the status of IB in the EU and member states, bringing together information from many disparate sources, to show the capabilities and support for IB based products and processes across Europe.
The BIO-TIC project consisted of three main activities to support innovation through industrial biotechnology. These were:
1. To identify the enablers and the barriers to industrial biotechnology by way of a comprehensive, muti-step, multi-stakeholder process. A roadmap for IB in Europe was developed outlining the market potential for IB in Europe, the hurdles to achieving this potential and a series of actions to overcome them. This roadmap was supported by three in-depth appendices looking at the issues in more depth;
2. To develop an online platform to help stakeholders identify partners, experts, events, funding and job opportunities in industrial biotechnology;
3. To establish a common framework for annual reporting on biomass use for non-energy biobased products.
The results of these three activities are explained in more detail in the following sections.
These activities were supported by a series of communications activities outlining the state of IB in the EU, how IB can be used to address many of the societal challenges facing the EU today, and the novel and unexpected uses of IB. The communication activities are outlined in a separate section of this report.
Developing a Roadmap for IB in Europe. Identifying the Hurdles and Proposing Actions by which they can be Overcome.
The BIO-TIC project has developed three detailed roadmaps which examine:
1. The potential EU market consumption for IB products (market roadmap)
2. The research and technology landscape, enablers and barriers (R&D roadmap)
3. The policy and regulatory landscape, enablers and barriers (non-technological roadmap)
The roadmaps were developed in a highly iterative process. An initial literature review focusing on existing roadmaps and policy documents related to the development of industrial biotechnology and the bioeconomy was performed to ascertain the ‘state of the art’ of the sector at the beginning of the project and to ensure that BIO-TIC builds upon existing work, rather than simply repeats it. Altogether, over 50 documents were analysed. The main finding was that most of the documents took for granted the cost competitiveness and quality (functional properties) of new bio-based products, and focused on secondary hurdles only. In addition, most of the documents discussed hurdles on a very general level without specifying products, technologies or markets. While the focus of this review was on Europe, some non-European documents were reviewed as well.
This literature review led to the selection of five specific product groups which could provide a competitive advantage for Europe and its economy, and was based on their future market potential, the potential for the product to introduce cross-cutting technology ideas, and to respond to societal and customer needs. Four of these are based on the use of biomass resources:
1. Advanced biofuels (bioethanol and biobased jet fuels, used in road and air transport respectively)
2. Biochemical building blocks (which can be transformed into a wide range of products which are either similar or offer additional functionality compared to fossil products)
3. Biobased plastics (used, for example, in packaging applications)
4. Biosurfactants derived from fermentation (typically used in detergents).
The fifth product group includes products which can be obtained by the conversion of fossil CO2 into novel products by IB routes (such as from power station smoke stacks). This could potentially be used to produce some of the same products which are currently produced from biomass but without any of the impacts on land use.
In order to ascertain the current hurdles and enablers to the deployment of industrial biotechnology in Europe, and to understand how these differences vary by region, a comprehensive stakeholder consultation process was undertaken. Stakeholders from industry, academia and policy were brought together in eight regional workshops in 2013/2014 . A series of five product-group specific workshops in 2014 focussing each upon one of the product groups above helped identify those barriers which were a particular concern for specific business cases and formulate actionable recommendations on how these barriers could be overcome. These events provided valuable opportunities for stakeholders from different Member States and backgrounds (i.a. industry, academia, policy makers, innovation agencies and others) to gather together to discuss the future of industrial biotechnology in Europe and the actions needed to stimulate the development. The regional and business case workshops were supplemented with over 85 one-on-one interviews with experts in the field to dig deeper into specific challenges and options over the course of the project. An integrated roadmap, outlining the market potential for IB in Europe, a series of ten pragmatic solutions to overcome the barriers to industrial biotechnology as a whole, and the key solutions suggested to encourage the growth of the five business cases which were the focus of this project, brought together the three detailed individual roadmaps. All roadmaps are available on the BIO-TIC webpage at http://www.industrialbiotech-europe.eu/.
What could be the ‘size of the prize’ for IB in Europe?
BIO-TIC has developed up-to-date market projections for the main product segments of the industrial biotechnology (IB) sector, focusing on the value of consumption in the EU. Building on recent market reports that have been published in the various sub-sectors of bio-based products, the estimates have now been harmonised, validated and extended up to 2030. Moreover, the market roadmap includes an overview of the current business environment in the EU, presents a market vision for the five selected product segments, and identifies actions that are needed to reach this market vision. The market roadmap provides a framework by which to identify requirements for technology development and for overcoming non-technological barriers to realise the market opportunities.
Market projections for the main IB product segments in 2030 were produced by mathematical modelling. The basic idea of modelling was to estimate a regression model for market value using historical data and short-term forecasts, and to utilise that regression model to predict long-term market development up to 2030.
The results show that EU market for industrial biotechnology-derived products is expected to increase from 28 billion euro in 2013 to 50 billion euro in 2030, representing a compounded growth rate of 4% per annum (or 7% if antibiotics and biogas are removed). This growth will be largely driven by projected increases in the consumption of bioethanol and bio-based plastics. New products such as aviation biofuels are likely to be commercialised in this period and gain market share too.
Five product groups were identified as being particularly promising based on their future market potential, the potential for that product to introduce cross cutting technology ideas and to respond to societal and customer needs. These product groups were:
1. Advanced biofuels (advanced bioethanol and biobased jet fuels) where consumption in the EU could be worth 14.4 BEUR and 1.4 BEUR respectively by 2030. For aviation biofuels, the proportion fulfilled by industrial biotechnology-based processes is unclear given the range of technologies available and their early stage of development;
2. Biochemical building blocks which can be transformed into a wide range of products which are either similar or offer additional functionality compared to fossil products, where a market value of 3.2 BEUR is suggested by 2030;
3. Biobased plastics, where demand in the EU is projected to reach 5.2 BEUR in 2030;
4. Biosurfactants derived from fermentation where demand could be up to 3.1 BEUR in 2030, led strongly by the growth in detergent applications;
5. Novel products from conversion of fossil carbon dioxide by industrial biotechnology routes. Given the nascent state of this market, no estimates for deployment can be given, but some technologies are expected to be ready for commercial production by 2030.
Despite this encouraging market potential, significant barriers remain and hamper the full development of industrial biotechnology production in Europe. If such barriers are not promptly addressed, the EU based demand will end up being satisfied by supply outside of the EU. The principal barrier to fully exploiting the industrial biotechnology opportunities in Europe relates to cost-competitiveness, both compared to fossil alternatives and to equivalent products from elsewhere in the world.
All of the studied markets are very sensitive to changes in market dynamics such as technical breakthroughs and regulatory disruptions which are very difficult to predict. These potential changes were decided to be incorporated into the projections through careful assumptions that were defined and discussed with stakeholders throughout the project. The market projections are therefore only valid with the set of given assumptions presented in the market roadmap. In order to evaluate the effectiveness of executed actions (particularly the refined biofuel policies and the sugar reform), the market analysis should be updated in five years’ time (2020) with a revisit to the assumptions behind technical and regulatory disruptions.
Despite Europe being strong in research, many gaps remain
BIO-TIC has examined the R&D bottlenecks that will require breakthroughs across a broad range of technological domains. It has identified key areas of research to focus on, and selectively highlighted those areas that can be best aligned with current and foreseen end-user market requirements, both in the shorter and longer term. The strength of research areas in different European countries was also examined, alongside instances where duplication of resources exist. In general, challenges exist across the value chain, and are similar for all of the five product groups studied in the project, with a few exceptions.
It is often questioned to what extent Europe can supply cost-effective feedstocks for large-scale production on a consistent basis throughout the year for biorefineries. Costs of feedstock are often higher in Europe due to regulations, climatic conditions and/or higher labour and operating costs. In many parts of the biomass sector, supplies are currently limited as a result of a relatively undeveloped infrastructure for collection, storage and transportation. On top of this, supplementing EU feedstock production with imports from elsewhere in the world is hampered by trade barriers which artificially raise prices.
For sugar and starch crops especially, the seasonality of EU production means that feedstock price, availability and quality can vary significantly over the year and from year to year. In many cases, the cost and availability issue is compounded by the fact that there are several alternative uses for feedstocks. A high demand or subsidies in one market can mean that the prices are pushed up for other users. Bio wastes may be cheap and widely available in the EU at present, but their use requires significant technological innovation, especially to overcome feedstock quality variations. Furthermore their use is also subject to complex regulations. Once such technologies are developed, it is anticipated that the demand for such feedstocks will increase and subsequently so will their price. For all feedstocks, but especially bulky and heavy feedstocks (such as beet or straw), and novel alternative feedstocks such as carbon dioxide (CO2), the costs of transport can be high over long distances, possibly requiring localised processing facilities for cost-effective production.
Bioconversion is the conversion of biological or chemical substances into useful products either through fermentation or through biocatalysis where microbially-produced enzymes are used to catalyse industrial chemical reactions. The yield, productivity and robustness of many bioconversions are still too low to make IB processing economically competitive for most IB products, except for notable examples, like lactic acid. In part, this results from a combination of the poor yield of microbes and biocatalysts (especially with feedstocks other than hexose (C6) sugars), a lack of continuous fermentation systems, impurities produced by bioconversion steps hindering downstream processing steps and the costs of water reuse.
The quality of the final product is paramount for consumer confidence and market uptake, however, it is generally agreed that the properties of some biobased products are not adequate for all desired applications. In addition, the attainment of a consistent quality product and waste streams is hampered by the use of feedstocks which themselves vary in quality, particularly for lignocellulosic and waste materials. Bioconversion consists of several processes which need to be developed, integrated and reiteratively optimised during scale-up. At present, each step is frequently developed and optimised separately from one another, leading to inefficiencies and difficulties during scale-up. There is also a lack of predictive models to aid the design of more integral bioconversion processes.
With regard to the end market, Europe has a number of key disadvantages when it comes to economic production of large-scale biobased products. These include high feedstock and energy costs compared to other regions of the world, due in part to the cost-effective production of fossil alternatives and the fragmented nature of the biomass industry, which hinders indigenous feedstock supply. R&D could help reduced these costs. In summary, while the EU may have considerable technological strengths but is disadvantaged by feedstock costs. This raises questions on the most effective markets for the EU to target.
So what Research and Development actions are needed to enable the bioeconomy?
The importance of biomass availability to the IB industry cannot be understated. The bioeconomy begins with the efficient and sustainable production of biobased feedstocks. Without farmers’ and landowners’ support, the impacts of the bioeconomy in Europe will be limited. As a result, it is of paramount importance that farmers, landowners and forestry owners are fully aware and engaged with the potential of the bioeconomy. Considered key to the development of the bioeconomy, IB can also add value to industrial side streams such as CO2 and biogenic waste streams, making valuable products from what might otherwise be considered either worthless or a cost burden.
The costs of EU feedstock can be high as a result of poor infrastructures for collection, storage and transportation of material. In addition, demonstration of the necessary environmental sustainability standards requires complex and time consuming procedures to demonstrate the biomass sustainability. In some cases, landowners may be unaware that they have different options for biomass utilisation, whilst in other cases, they may be aware of the opportunities, but may be reluctant to get involved as returns are deemed not worth the effort. A range of possible solutions to address these problems could be envisaged. These range from actions to help farmers and landowners make the best use of their biomass by ensuring they know what their crops, residues and wastes can be used for, ensuring that farmers are given a fair price for their products, and actions to help develop the infrastructure for biomass collection, storage and transportation. More widely, in order to promote the availability of biomass in the EU it will be necessary to take advantage of advances in IT for managing, refining and utilising feedstock related data so the necessary logistics and storage chains can be established. There is a need to reduce the complexity of sustainability reporting schemes – a wide variety of schemes, with an associated high adminstrative and cost burden, could be streamlined. Finally, in some areas of the EU it may be worthwhile to reinstate sugarbeet production, but this would require the use of extension services to ensure best practices are employed, and R&D actions to ensure that sugar is processed in a good enough, but cheap enough manner to be competitive for IB production.
In a future market economy, the most likely scenario for biomass supply for industry and especially for industrial biotechnology will be a mixed one, involving a diverse and variable mixture of feedstocks. In this way, simple feedstock (agricultural products such as sugar from sugar beet and sugar cane, starch from wheat and corn, plant oils etc.) and more complex feedstock (sugars from lignocellulosic materials such as straw, short rotation coppice, dedicated crops, residues or even algae and wastes) as well as advanced “nonbiological” sources (such as wastewaters, municipal solid wastes, flue gases and direct air captured carbon dioxide) will coexist in the future.
Simple feedstocks are globally available at affordable prices for the bioeconomy of today, especially when oil prices are above 75 EUR/barrel. This is especially true for sugar from sugar beet, the potential in Europe is set to increase after 2017 when the sugar quota regime will end. Thereafter, it is expected that sugar will be produced in the EU at even lower prices than today. Nevertheless, ongoing policy debates, together with well-established economic and supply chain security considerations from the industry, are driving intensive investments and development in the use of non-food based biomass sources. Much research is needed to facilitate the move towards using non-food based biomass sources within IB products. Wastes, in particular, are hetrogenous feedstocks with highly variable chemical composition and moisture contents. This poses a problem for fermentation systems based on single simple feedstocks where the composition is a lot more standardised. These changes in feedstock quality impact upon the bioconversion efficiency and overall processing yield. Research and development is therefore needed to investigate waste and residues within a range of conversion systems to expand the variety of biomass sources for the IB sector. A wide range of potential feedstocks could be used, but their adaptability and resilience to marginal conditions needs to be improved to extend their cultivation areas. This requires a concerted breeding programme. A thorough assessment of the sustainability and LCA of novel biomass should be an integral part of any pilot and demonstration programmes. Finally, in the longer term, multiple feedstock processing facilities could help overcome some of the issues surrounding biomass supply, and although this is seen as a longer term prospect, research and development activities should be started now.
The efficient use of co-products in a biorefinery is the most sustainable way to utilise the biomass and land resources. Co-products are manufactured alongside a primary product from the same feedstock in one process. Valorising co-products does not mean risking the main product of a biorefinery, but obtaining value out of the side-streams which are often underutilised. Co-production implies that different products are produced simultaneously in one biorefinery to enhance the use of biomass. Highly integrated biorefineries have the target to minimise biomass losses and to find the best valorisation of all different biomass streams. They produce multiple product streams and optimise the value from a particular feedstock. The aim should be to maximise the product streams from biomass because of value-added, resource efficiency and sustainability reasons. There has thus to be a framework to promote and finance this kind of biorefinery for biomass utilisation to ensure the build-up of some first facilities as a proof of concept. Optimised co-production and cascading use of resources should be supported and especially the material use of biomass, waste and residues in order to allow the full utilisation of biomass. For some sectors like the sugar and starch industry, the valorisation of all co-products in an integrated biorefinery concept has already been a reality for decades and should be used as a model. Research actions are needed to develop higher value applications for lignin from non-wood sources. Whilst much has already been done on wood based lignin, this differs from that from other sources. A pilot or demonstration facility is needed to develop enough lignin for applications testing, possibly as part of an add-on facility. More broadly, there needs to be significant technological innovation to valorise all possible products within a feedstock and not just the product of interest. In particular, novel technologies are needed to recover potentially useful compounds in the downstream processing step.
To date, the bioconversion and downstream processing steps have largely been developed independently. Research and Development can strongly contribute to reducing the costs and environmental impact of IB processes, consequently increasing competitiveness. A number of R&D priorities may be required, in particular the improvement of the production (upstream), separation and purification (downstream) of IB products, especially when both of these aspects are considered together. Two main actions may be pursued along these lines, including :
• European Centre of Expertise on BioProcess Development (EU CoE BPD), a virtual platform under the umbrella of the EU Joint Research Centre (JRC) network, bringing together relevant academic-based research groups, industry players and research and technology organisations (RTOs) to focus and speed up IB development;
• Increasing the number of grants dedicated to enzyme and strain development within Horizon 2020, in particular setting up dedicated SME Instrument call topics.
Both the desired Centre of Excellence and the increased Horizon 2020 funding should focus on the three critical areas of:
• Developing novel microbial production systems and methods. The yield and productivity of current strains and the robustness of fermentation and biocatalyst strains are often insufficient to enable cost-effective production of biobased products, especially with 2nd generation feedstock. Microbes could be engineered to optimally use 2nd and 3rd generation feedstocks and tolerate growth inhibiting compounds present in the feedstock. Anaerobic fermentation systems and associated strain improvement and cultivation methods should be investigated as they are less costly, and there should be an effort to reduce the byproducts excreted during IB processes as these may affect productivity and product recovery.
• Ensuring that bioprocesses are developed as a whole system. This is because processes have largely been developed in discrete steps without taking the following purification steps into account. Even if each step works well in isolation, it may not work well in the complete system.
• Promoting ‘continuous improvement’ in processing technologies. Technologies within the IB sector are at different TRLs. Even if a technology is at a high TRL, R&D on that technology should continue to be funded over time to allow continuous improvements in technologies and improve the competitiveness of the process, thus reducing costs and improving environmental impact.
Policy and regulatory support is needed to foster investments and provide a supportive policy landscape for IB products.
In the area of feedstock supply, the main hurdles identified were the need for continuous feedstock supply, the inefficient transport and distribution of biomass, inefficient recovery systems for (bio)waste, the costs of feedstock produced in Europe being too high and variable, and the lack of a commonly accepted “sustainability” certification system. Some of the major solutions identified and described in more detail in the roadmap are the need to fund research and demonstration programmes on non-food biomass sources; the promotion of the availability of feedstock-related information; to investigate routes for using multi-feedstock processing capability; the development of infrastructure for biomass collection, storage and transportation; the development of decentralised pre-treatment facilities; the amendment of the Waste Hierarchy in the Waste Framework Directive to facilitate the use of wastes for higher value applications; the reduction of the complexity of sustainability reporting schemes; and the promotion of the cascading use of biomass.
A limited availability of public R&D funding and of public support for scale-up activities, the difficult access to finance for spin-offs, start-ups and SMEs, and the poor financial support for new production facilities were seen as the major financial bottlenecks in Europe. Concrete solutions identified were to increase R&D funding; to ascertain capacity, capability, funding models and client geography for European IB pilot and demonstration plants; to invest in infrastructure at pilot and demonstration scale to bring innovative European ideas to market; setting up funding programmes and innovation awards for bio-entrepreneurship; implementation of funding for feasibility studies; development of demonstration projects as proof of concept ; to increase awareness about grants and funding opportunities; to speed up integration of public grants from EU H2020, EU ESIF and national grants; and to create a European BioEconomy Strategic Investment Fund (EBESIF).
The poor public perception (e.g. the advantages of biobased products are not visible enough, or poor public acceptance for IB products) was also seen as a major hurdle. Possible solutions worked out in the roadmap were the development of an EU wide campaign to improve public awareness and perception of IB and IB-derived products; the development of a campaign aimed at improving awareness of how IB products can aid industry; and ascertain the public’s acceptance level for IB and biobased products.
In the area of the demand side policies, the absence of a dedicated framework to promote biobased products, the lack of a “green public procurement” policy promoting biobased products, and the lack of a uniform standard and label for sustainable biobased products are important barriers. These could be overcome by introducing financial incentives for biobased products, by supporting biobased products development through public procurement, by developing clear European standards, or by branding biobased through an ecolabel and/or “Biobased” label.
Insufficient cooperation and knowledge exchange between the parties in the value chain, difficulties to establish operational alliances between industry and academia, and regional funding conditions hindering the establishment of international networks were seen as major hurdles for an efficient collaboration. These could be solved by increasing the involvement of national and/or regional cluster organisations, by stimulating clusters to set up national/regional public-private partnerships, by supporting the creation of innovative value chains, by stimulating innovation across disciplines and collaboration between industry and public institutes.
Other hurdles identified were the lack of HR with right skills and curricula, high patent costs that hinder start-ups and SMEs, and difficulties in implementing the sustainability agenda and life cycle thinking in policies.
What is needed to develop the full potential of industrial biotech in Europe?
In addition to the horizontal hurdles examined above, the major business-case specific bottlenecks were also identified by the stakeholders, and solutions were developed in detail as part of the project. In brief:
In the area of second generation ethanol and aviation fuel, the high production costs, the need for a stable financial and regulatory support from governments, the “food versus fuel utilisation” of biomass, the insufficient infrastructure for collection of agricultural residues, and the lack of public acceptance for biofuels were seen as the most important problems. Possible solutions identified were to use all possible value streams, to set up demonstration projects utilising lignin from existing biorefineries, introducing a minimum aviation biofuel mandate, to support aviation biofuels under EC’s Renewable Fuel objectives or encouraging voluntary agreements such as the Dutch aviation sector agreement, or to de-risk investments into bio-jetfuel production plants through loan guarantees and by relaxing rules on State Aid.
In the field of chemical building blocks, specific hurdles were the raw material price and availability, the current process efficiency and high production costs, and the lack of market incentives for biobased chemicals. Some of the solutions identified were to use fiscal incentives to reinvigorate EU sugar production, to reinstall the local sugar processing capacity that has been lost in the EU over the last decade via government grants or fiscal incentives, to stimulate collaboration between the sugar industry and the chemical/fermentation industry to develop a “minimum processing route”, to focus on high value-added products and high quality applications such as specialty chemicals rather than bulk applications, the processing of beet in a minimal way so that the sugars could be used for IB without being completely refined, to develop multiple feedstock facilities so that the EU IB industry is not dependent upon one single feedstock, and to develop economic incentives helping companies in converting chemical plants to biotech ones.
The fact that new biobased plastics are often more expensive than the conventional ones, the need for clear standards and a regulatory framework promoting market uptake, and a lack of financial incentives were seen as the major hurdles for this sector. These could be overcome by better explaining the benefits of bioplastics, so consumers accept to pay a (bio-)premium; by developing infrastructure for effective composting or recycling; by developing policy tools to stimulate demand (e.g. public procurement); and by implementing a tax and/or subsidies for certain applications to close the price gap between biobased and fossil based plastics.
For the sector of biosurfactants, its unclear definition, the fact that customers are unwilling to pay a premium, the absence of incentives, and the poor public perception and awareness were the specific hurdles. Possible solutions developed in the roadmap were the development of a clear definition of biosurfactants which would be easy to communicate; to increase the actions towards product improvement/differentiation such as superior properties; better communicating performance and sustainability of biosurfactants in marketing, and raising consumer awareness about the benefits of bio-based products in general and biosurfactants more specifically via lectures and advertising; and developing positive and consistent labelling and language (“EU-wide regulation”).
Finally, if we want to develop more applications using CO2 as feedstock, the high energy costs, the absence of standards, incentives and supporting policies, and the lack of R&D funding for this topic were the main hurdles today. The solutions identified were to focus on the competitive production of high-value products (specialty chemicals); to develop technical solutions to enable cost-effective CO2 capture, pre-treatment and direct in-situ conversion, at a single point CO2 source, to a higher value product; to develop recognised standards enabling the measurement and certification of the amount of CO2 utilised for making CO2-based products; to develop tax schemes whereby CO2-based products (with a net reduction of CO2 emission compared to fossil-based counterparts) could be promoted for instance through the EU ETS system; and to increase funding for R&D programs, including demonstration projects.
Addressing Challenges to Industrial Biotechnology in Europe
One of the key themes of the BIO-TIC project was to ascertain the hurdles and challenges for industrial biotechnology in Europe and to propose actions by which they can be addressed. Other elements of the BIO-TIC project aimed to address existing problems. These included:
• The development of an online partnering platform to bring stakeholders together and help overcome the fragmentation of expertise and knowledge in the sector
• The development of a methodology to help ascertain to what extent biomass is used for biobased products
• The development of a prototype database to show the sustainablility of different biobased products to help address the lack of information on the sustainability of different biobased products.
• Providing information to stakeholders on IB applications and policy environment in the EU
The results for the first three of these actions are explained in more detail in the following sections. The final action is explained in more detail in the communications section.
Connecting the Dots – Creating a Central, European Online Platform for Industrial Biotechnology
In times of dwindling resources, the role of industrial biotechnology (IB) has become increasingly important. The very interdisciplinary nature of IB represents both a chance and a problem: it offers a a chance to establish sustainable, innovative business models, but at the same time the challenge is to bring together players from different disciplines and cultures. To promote communication among experts from all pertinent areas of IB, a comprehensive communication platform is required, enabling experts to meet and exchange ideas simply and effectively.
A number of online platforms are available. Usually, they highlight either only one specific aspect of IB (e.g. Agrobiobase, Biofuels, International Business Directory for Innovative Bio-based Plastics and Composites) or their topics are very broad, covering the whole range of the bio-economy and biotechnology, including medicinal and pharmaceutical applications (e.g. Biofpr, ETP, CLIB, ...). While the number of events in the field of IB is rising steadily, many companies and organisations are cutting down on travel and events budgets. Especially at a stage where stakeholders want to explore a wide range opportunities for cooperation, the effort associated with participation in on-site events and the scope of these events can be a hindrance.
The aim of the BIO-TIC platform was to solve the key problem of the lack of a central, European online platform for industrial biotechnology. The setting-up of a central, European online platform brought together the diverse areas of IB, thus providing a comprehensive overview of the European IB community. Moreover, the integration of organisations from different industrial sectors active in IB on the BIO-TIC platform encourages thinking outside the box and boosts cooperations between various industrial sectors, thus triggering hitherto undreamt of synergies. In particular, the possibility to quickly and selectively contact potential cooperation partners from different regions of Europe which would otherwise only be chance encounters, e.g. at an on-site event, is another distinguishing feature of the BIO-TIC platform.
The BIO-TIC platform provides registered organisations and users prominent international visibility and also the option to selectively present their products, services, offers and requests effectively to an international audience. Specific classifications for industrial biotechnology were elaborated in the BIO-TIC project, facilitating not only more targeted searches, but also better comparability of the organisations and experts listed.
The BIO-TIC partnering platform built upon the content and functionality of a platform created in the EU-sponsored project BIOCHEM (CIP) as a basis for the BIO-TIC database. At its launch in April 2013, the BIO-TIC partnering platform had 1,780 organizations listed. The target of this project was to list 5,000 datasets of European experts and organizations within the online platform at the end of the project. This target was achieved. Published sources used to gather more datasets included:
• Personal and professional contacts
• On-site events
• Online databases
• Websites of multipliers (associations, societies, networks and clusters)
• Online and print media
3,306 new organizations and experts were integrated into the BIO-TIC partnering platform. Information on almost all organizations includes postal addresses, e-mail details as well as links to their homepages. Most of the contact details were gathered by consulting the websites of the relevant organizations. 772 experts registered on the database with their personal contact data and information. Altogether 5,086 datasets were gathered.
In order to attract experts to register on the BIO-TIC platform, DECHEMA and the project partners offered a series of seven webinars. The webinars informed the European IB community about the BIO-TIC roadmaps and additional topics of interest to the IB community. The webinars attracted 539 participants. Topics of the individual webinars were:
• European Bio-economy revisited: How far have we come?
• Where next: Industrial Biotechnology?
• Webinars for the BIO-TIC Business Case on Biopolymers, Biosurfactants, Chemical Building Blocks, CO2 and Advanced Biofuels
All lectures from the webinars are available as downloadable pdfs on the BIO-TIC partnering platform. To be able to download the presentations experts have to register on the BIO-TIC platform. In two large e-mailing campaigns to about 5,800 experts of the European IB community, conducted by DECHEMA, experts were informed about the webinars and invited to register to BIO-TIC and to join the webinars for free.
An additional activity to persuade more users to register on the BIO-TIC platform was the publication of BIO-TIC roadmaps on the BIO-TIC platform. The users had to register to be able to download the draft versions of the three BIO-TIC roadmaps. The roadmaps were downloaded by 267 experts.
Further promotional activities included:
1. Social media: establishment of a LinkedIn group and promotion of the platform via LinkedIn and Twitter
2. Publications in: Transcript, Industrial Biotechnology, Bioplastics magazine, ...
3. Newsletter: ERA IB Newsletter, EuropaBio Newsletter, Nova-Institut Newsletter, Cefic Newsletter, DECHEMA Newsletter
The BIO-TIC platform was continuously developed during the BIO-TIC project. From the beginning, the platform was adapted to the needs of the project. After intensive consultation with all project partners new classifications were introduced and existing ones were modified where necessary. Various new information entities, such as databases for events, projects, funding opportunities, job offers and technologies were integrated into the platform. The idea behind this was to establish a “one-stop info shop” for the European bio-economy where users could obtain all the relevant information in a single database. During the project, however, despite efforts to promote registrations and use of the platform the number of registered experts remained unsatisfactory.
The analysis performed by the BIO-TIC partners led to the following conclusions. Users seemed not to be willing to enter and then regularly update the corresponding contents in the BIO-TIC platform themselves. On the other hand, content – preferably proprietary content – is needed to attract users to an information platform. The BBI partnering platform is a good example of how proprietary content can inject life into an online platform. The possibility to find partners for BBI calls and funding for joint R&D projects is an extremely potent argument in favour of registering on the BBI platform and regularly updating one’s dataset. Nearly 800 registered experts on the BBI partnering platform within a year substantiates this. Additionally, the large quantity of different information content made the BIO-TIC platform very complex and blurred the focus on interaction and partnering.
Consequently the BIO-TIC partners decided to relaunch the platform. The goal was to streamline the platform, discard the variety of different databases within the BIO-TIC platform and focus on interactivity among the users. In addition, in order to link the BIO-TIC and BBI-JU platforms (see below), the structure of both platforms was adjusted. The new BIO-TIC platform was launched in March 2015. The platform is now much easier to use and is very similar to the platform used at BBI-JU.
Data protection and user acceptance
The population of the BIO-TIC database with data from organisations was very successful; databases from former EU projects could be integrated as well as data researched from public sources (see above). Due to data protection laws, contact data of individuals could not be transferred into the database. Instead, experts had to be stimulated to register themselves. DECHEMA and the other project partners promoted the platform in their extensive expert networks via newsletters, social media, direct communication and webinars (see above), resulting in the registration of almost 800 individuals.
The conclusion derived from these results is that, in future, online databases should be far more interactive and enable their users to quickly and selectively find business and cooperation partners. In addition, proprietary content, information, offerings or a connection to events (the BBI platform profits from the regular partnering events) are strong incentives for registration and use.
At the outset of the BIO-TIC project, DECHEMA committed to continuing the BIO-TIC platform for another three years after the end of the project. However, it was not clear how the platform could be actually put to use. Taking the lessons learned into account, the BioLinX project offers a brilliant opportunity to achieve the goal of rendering the platform into a useful tool and center of an active community.
Enhancing the reach – preventing duplication of activities by cooperating with other platforms.
During the project, a cooperation was established with the Bio Base NWE project, a European INTERREG IVB NWE project. One goal of the Bio Base NWE project was to create a database that presents technologies offered or sought in the European bio-economy context. This technology database was developed as a component of the BIO-TIC platform. The integration of the technology database within the BIO-TIC platform avoided the creation of parallel platforms focusing on the bio-economy, thereby supporting the idea of creating a central, European bio-economy platform.
A very promising new activity has been the cooperation between BIO-TIC and the Biobased Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI-JU). The BBI-JU partnering platform was officially launched in July 2014. The BBI-JU partnering platform uses BIO-TIC classifications and has a similar data structure to that of the BIO-TIC platform. This facilitates the exchange of information between the two platforms. Experts registering on the BBI-JU platform are able to use the same log-in to access the BBI-JU platform and the BIO-TIC platform. The interface between the BIO-TIC and BBI-JU partnering platforms enables automated transfer of a photo, logo, job title or company name. This means that if a user has already registered with one of the platforms and wants to register with the other one as well, he/she is not required to upload the same information again because it will be retrieved automatically. This saves time and makes registration on the two platforms more user-friendly.
After the end of the BIO-TIC project, the platform will be used for a Horizon 2020 project entitled BioLinX (Call: ISIB-08b-2014, project number: 652692). BioLinX is a three-year EU project that started in July 2015 and aims to bridge research and innovation efforts in the bio-economy by building three large clusters in Europe and initiating within them a range or powerful linking and innovation acceleration processes. This will involve the organisation of nine regional partnering events. These events will be accompanied by on-site and online partnering opportunities, making use of an interactive partnering platform. The BIO-TIC-Platform will form the basis for this platform, thus capitalising on the effort already spent during the BIO-TIC project while enabling the BioLinX project to start with a proven and established technology and functionalities.
The BIO-TIC Platform will have been adapted to the requirements of the BioLinX project by the end of December 2015. The aim is to introduce new classifications and completely integrate online, on-site and parallel online/on-site partnering functions. The functionality to organise both on-site, purely online and also parallel on-site/online partnering events with the revamped BIO-TIC platform (= BioLinX platform) will substantially increase the reach of the nine regional partnering events, resulting in more participants per partnering event and more effective networking. The use of the BioLinX platform as a purely partnering platform will lead to a significant rise in the number of users, compared with the old BIO-TIC platform, since it will actively contribute to the organisation of effective, customised meetings among different platform users. This will ensure active, high-potential use of the BIO-TIC platform in the framework of the BioLinX project. The BIO-TIC platform will be adapted accordingly in August and September 2015. During the reorganisation, users will have limited access to the BIO-TIC platform.
The BBI-JU and BioLinX projects complement one another. The interaction between both platforms will assist European experts seeking funding opportunities in BBI call specific partnering events and cooperation / business partners in the three partnering events per year offered by BioLinx.
BIO-TIC has thus formed a valuable basis for further partnering activities within the EU IB arena.
How much biomass is used for industrial products in the EU today? How sustainable are its products?
One of the main problems in the evaluation of the bioeconomy is the lack of data and insights into bio-based processes and products. The main databases of the EU, especially EUROSTAT, are not made to give these insights on the special questions for the bioeconomy in Europe. They contain lots of information for agriculture, production and trade, but are not usable when it comes to specific questions on data for the utilisation of biomass in Europe. Therefore a methodology to assess this kind of information to get a better understanding on the existing bioeconomy, its progress and hurdles is needed.
In the BIO-TIC project the aim was to establish a data-collection framework on the use of biomass and industrial biotechnology to overcome the lack of information in this area. This was done in several steps and in cooperation with stakeholders of the bio-based economy with interviews and in workshops. The first step of this process was to find a common understanding of the terms, parameters and units needed to describe the bio-based economy and especially the field of industrial biotechnology.
The second step concentrated on the sustainability criteria for a socio-economic assessment and the environmental impact to establish a toolset for the collection of published data for eco-profiles and socio-economic data for all relevant bio-processes. The main focus here was to give a comprehensive overview of indicators and parameters to measure the socio-economic and environmental impact of IB and the use of biomass for bio-based products in the EU with all its implications. The result of this topic was shown in a methodology framework and a database tool on sustainability data containing datasets of about ~50 biobased product types and a literature database on published LCA data as a proof of concept.
Based on the aims of the bioeconomy strategy the last part of the BIO-TIC data-collection framework was to find a methodology to establish an annual data-collection on the use of biomass and industrial biotechnology and to use this methodology approaches for a first data collection as a proof of concept for selected feedstocks. The team made an assessment on available data sources and used the already collected structure of databases in the EU and beyond as part of this work. It involved a methodology with three pillars and ended up with the discussion on these methodological approaches with stakeholders from across the sectors within the bioeconomy. At the end a first data collection on two selected methodologies as a proof of concept based on the methodologies was discussed. Each of these steps is described in more detail in the section below.
What do people think of when you say ‘bioeconomy’? Understanding the definitions, standards and setting parameters in the sector
A first step of the data collection framework was to find a common understanding for the bioeconomy. Therefore at the beginning a framework on definitions, standards, units and processes on the biomass use for energy and industrial material use in Europe with special emphasis on industrial biotechnology was set up. The importance of this process is already known in the European Knowledge-Based Bio-Economy. So this topic was also addressed by several activities like the CEN/TC 411 working group 1 “Terminology” , that was working on a glossary for the bio-based standardisation and the FP 7 projects KBBPPS and OPEN-BIO focused on the pre-standardisation of bio-based products and also on labelling and certification schemes. The European Commission’s DG Research and Innovation is also working together with the Joint Research Centre (JRC) on a programme for a Bio-economy Observatory. The BIO-TIC team worked together with these and other stakeholders on these topics to be in line with them.
The output of this first deliverable was a glossary of terms used in the bio-based economy and especially in the industrial biotechnology sector together with a set of terms describing the standards and parameters used to describe mainly sustainability issues (socio-economic and ecological) in the European bioeconomy and to characterise bio-based products within this area. This laid the base for the methodology of the data collection and the collection of datasets to measure the socio-economic and environmental impacts of the bio-based economy, the products and especially the industrial biotechnology with all its implications.
Methodology for a data-collection framework on biomass use and first data collection as a proof of concept
Three methodologies have been developed to enable an annual reporting on biomass use for non-energy bio-based products in Europe in order to facilitate a long-term monitoring of the bio-based economy.
The goal of the bio-based database was to build a dedicated database for bio-based products (example for this is the energy database of the EU). The main challenge on this concept was the complexity of the bio-based product sectors mainly in the field of material uses with more than 1,000 potentially bio-based products already identified, from several areas with a large base of different sources from which to collect the data. Establishing this kind of a database will be a long process and to obligate all Member States to provide data (even if the political will is there) will be even more complicated. In the EU Bioeconomy Observatory the JRC is working together with a team led by E4Tech on the database methodology based on a very comprehensive data collection from the industry (database approach). Since the database approach is pursued in that project, nova and the BIO-TIC team decided to focus on the other two methodologies. By the end of the BIO-TIC project the JRC project was not yet finished and only very limited data from the database approach were available, therefore a cross-check was not possible.
In the “bio-based share” approach the main goal is to identify the potentially bio-based products in the existing statistical databases and calculate the shares of the bio-based resources used for these products with expert estimations and/or industry surveys. Following this, the needed economic parameters can be calculated on this basis. The first step in this approach was to identify the relevant product groups from PRODCOM and then calculate the share of bio-based resources in each PRODCOM product category. Then, conversion rates are used for the conversion from biomass to products. For the application of the bio-based share approach, those product categories have been identified that contain either fully or partly bio-based products.
Finally, the “total biomass flow” approach, is a method used already in Carus et al. 2010 for Germany / worldwide biomass flow and Carus 2012 for a rough estimation on European biomass uses. In BIO-TIC, this approach was refined to gain better insights on the total biomass use and the biomass use of different input raw materials. The basic idea was to find out the total amounts of biomass used for food, feed, energy and material use and to define the share of the several sectors. In this approach one will get an overview on the total use of biomass in the bio-economy as well as an idea of the types of biomass used.
BIO-TIC has developed the first and comprehensive results on the use of biomass for the production of bioproducts in the EU by applying the “total biomass flow approach” and the “bio-based share” approach. The data presented should be seen as a proof of concept rather than rigorously validated results. Cross-checks have been made as far as possible. However, the scope for cross-checks is limited in the sector of material uses of biomass because hard data is very hard to come by. Therefore, a data-gap analysis is an integral part of the work. There is a lack of data on the biomass use in official statistics and from other sources, therefore it is very complicated to collect relevant data and bring them together for a whole picture of the European bioeconomy. In future, several of these gaps need to be addressed to get a better picture on the European bioeconomy.
Database tool for sustainability datasets
Concerning the sustainability criteria of socio-economic assessments and the environmental impact a toolset for the collection of published data and a database on these aspects was established as a database tool. Concerning the ecological data a tool for the collection of a set of eco profiles for several relevant bioproducts for the use in LCA data sets following ISO 14040 and 14044 was built and filled with a general dataset of ca. 50 products as a proof of concept together with a set of literature titles as sources. The database was filled with first data on the product type, biomass and biodegradability certification schemes, carbon footprint, depletion of fossil resources and land efficiency.
The database tool for sustainability data was built and is available as a proof of concept filled with a dataset of ca. 50 products. The main problem in this topic was to identify the datasets to work with and to fill in into the tool and database. The problem with sustainability data is that the comparability of LCAs that depend on the very specific framework all of these have. So to compare two or more sustainability datasets fort he same product can be very different and the results differ between the datasets depending on the datasets used. Therefore the datasets in the database are not really easy to use and every single number depends on the source where it comes from. Following this the database tool was simplified and only some data types were used combined with a literature database to have the reference to each number filled in.
The overall objective of the BIO-TIC project was to support the creation of a more favorable environment for IB innovation in Europe, with the aim of enhancing European industrial competitiveness and developing new products and creating jobs and growth in this sector. It has done this by:
• Showing that the IB market in Europe could develop from 28 billion euro in 2013 to 50 billion euro in 2030, representing a compound annual growth rate of 4% per annum (7% if antibiotics and biogas are excluded). These projections, developed through consultation with a wide range of stakeholders throughout Europe, show that industrial biotechnology can provide a significant growth market for Europe, and establish a new, sound basis to steer policy and investment decisions towards a globally competitive European IB sector. These market projections are dependent upon various hurdles being addressed. If these hurdles are not addressed, EU based demand will end up being satisfied by non-EU based supply, thus representing a missed profit opportunity for the EU industry in the range of tens of billions euro.
• Developing a partnering platform to overcome the fragmented nature of IB expertise in Europe thus aiding in the development of new alliances in this area. The BIO-TIC partnering platform provides a free database by which users can advertise their expertise and needs within this sector. It contains details of over 5,000 stakeholders covering the value chain from feedstock supply, its transformation and integration into industrial processing up to end-user industries and service providers. The platform facilitates networking, contact and business opportunities between e.g. companies, academia and venture capitalists.
• Identifying the key market sectors in which industrial biotechnology can contribute significantly to economic growth and job creation in Europe. Five market sectors have been identified in which Europe can develop a world-leading competitive position. These are advanced biofuels (advanced ethanol and biobased jet fuels), biosurfactants, bioplastics, bio-based chemical building blocks, and the use of IB to convert CO2 into various downstream products.
• Bringing together upstream and downstream users, in a combined open and “market oriented” consultative process to agree on the innovation hurdles and formulate the requirements needed to boost industrial biotechnology innovation in their market segment. This was achieved through the delivery of eight regional workshops which have investigated the regional enablers and barriers to the IB industry as a whole, and a series of five workshops which investigated hurdles to specific IB market opportunities, and developed solutions to overcome them. The research and development and non-technology (e.g. policy and regulatory barriers) to developing these sectors and IB more generally, have been identified, providing a sound basis for innovation agencies, research funders, local and national governments and the European Commission to take action and enhance European industrial competitiveness in this sector.
• Developing a prototype tool by which the sustainability of IB products can be measured. This will aid assessments of the comparative advantages of IB products both compared to fossil equivalents, and between different IB products, allowing consumers and end users to clearly identify the products which have the best sustainability credentials. It will also help industry, policy makers and academia in their work on sustainability-criteria for bio-based products, and as such further stimulate the market introduction of bio-based alternatives with significant predicted environmental benefits.
• Developing and testing methodologies for assessing how much biomass is used for industrial products in the EU. Such a methodology is crucial to assess the impact of policies in this area and to propose remedial actions to promote the sector where needed. BIO-TIC has provided the groundwork for further investigations in this area by consolidating the existing data, identifying gaps and filling them where possible.
Main Dissemination activities / Exploitation of Results
The BIO-TIC project was a Coordinated Support Action (CSA) which had, amongst other objectives, the aim to develop communication and dissemination tools and reach out beyond the known IB community. This section highlights some of the activities completed within the project to demonstrate the potential for IB in Europe and bring people together to effect change.
1. Raising Awareness of the Potential for Industrial Biotechnology
One of the main problems which faces IB deployment today is the general lack of knowledge about the benefits which IB can offer to a wide range of established, and often conservative , sectors. The BIO-TIC project aimed to tackle this barrier through three main channels; the project website as the main static resource, outreach through attending events and interactions, and the final, high level policy event of the project entitled ‘From bugs to business: Unlocking the Bioeconomy in Europe’.
The project website
The project website provided the principal portal for information on the project and also established a repository for the public project deliverables. As such it was the go-to point for people wishing to find out more about this promising technology and the benefits it could bring to them. The project website targets both the general public and more specialised users.
Highlighting the Potential for IB in Europe. Industrial biotechnology is a broad sector, and the wide range of potential applications for IB and the rapid development of this sector can make it difficult to navigate for those who may be interested in it, but who are not familiar with the overall IB landscape in Europe. The BIO-TIC project has helped address this problem.
Few people are fully aware of what IB is and how it can be used. Even industrial sectors which could benefit from its application may not be familiar with the potential which IB offers them.
In order to address this knowledge gap and to showcase the potential for IB, the project has demonstrated the common everyday uses of IB, including bread, beer and yoghurt production, more recent applications such as biobased plastics, biofuels and the production of certain chemicals and vitamins, and the more unexpected applications such as bioremediation, biomining, using carbon emissions and wastes to produce chemicals, fuels and energy. Summaries of how IB can address societal challenges such as resource and energy efficiency, environmental challenges and improveprocesses have been developed. Written in an engaging style, these case studies, available on the BIO-TIC website, draw reader’s attention to the potential for IB whilst providing references for further information for those with particular interest in an area.
Identifying the support for IB in Europe. Until recently, there has been a lack of information about what is happening in the bioeconomy Europe, despite a significant amount of change in the area both in terms of policy and supporting funding environments.
The BIO-TIC webpage includes, for EU level and for most of the member states, a summary of the different incentives and policies for IB use, support networks and initiatives and companies to watch, and is, as far as we are aware, the first major synthesis of what the IB policy and support landscape is in Europe today. As a result, it provides an excellent launch pad for those with an interest in the sector but who may not know where to start.
Although the updated BIO-TIC website provides abundant information about the benefits and applications of IB, there still needs to be some coordination in collecting information on the status of IB in some EU member states (i.e. Cyprus, Malta,Romania).
Outreach to new sectors
The project website is a static tool, largely targetting those within the IB community or those who may, by chance, come across one of the pages demonstrating the benefits of IB through an organic search. In order to reach out to newcomers or industries that may not realise what IB could mean for them, we have:
• presented at existing up and downstream stakeholder events to raise the profile of IB within specific sectors. For example, the partners have given presentations at the ICIS Surfactants Conference in Germany (September 2014) and the Large Scale CO2 utilisation conference in Lyon, France (September 2014) to raise awareness of biosurfactants and the use of industrial biotechnology for converting CO2 to industrial products respectively.
• Organised dedicated webinars on the potential for biosurfactants, converting fossil CO2 to industrial products, biobased chemical building blocks, bioplastics and advanced biofuels which the chemical industry were invited to attend.
Finally, the project consortium includes three chemical industry associations (KTN, Cefic and Dechema). The diffusion of project results through these partners (through, e.g. mail shots, newsletters, public presentations ) has enabled the project results to reach beyond the traditional IB industry towards those industries which may not have been aware of IB.
‘From Bugs to Business’ Unlocking the Bioeconomy in Europe
The BIO-TIC consortium held its high level policy conference, entitled “From bugs to business: Unlocking the Bioeconomy in Europe” on 23rd June 2015 at the Royal Flemish Academy for Sciences and Arts (Paleis der Academiën), Brussels. The conference brought together over 100 participants, includingpolicy makers, industrial players, entrepreneurs and academia to debate and propose recommendations for developing a dynamic, innovative and competitive industrial biotechnology sector. The participants :
• Witnessed the launch of the BIO-TIC roadmap ‘The Bioeconomy Enabled: A Roadmap to a Thriving Industrial Biotechnology Sector in Europe’.
• Learned about the state of play of industrial biotechnology in Europe with keynote speeches from BioAmber, Ecover, Energochemica, Biobased Delta, MEP Lambert Van Nistelrooij and Waldemar Kütt, Head of Unit for biobased products and processes at DG Research and Innovation.
• Engaged in discussions during dedicated panel debates on biomass availability and financing of industrial biotechnology projects in the presence of, amongst others, MEP Philippe de Backer, Sini Eräjäa from Birdlife, Daan Dijk from Rabobank, Andreas Gumbert from DG Agri and many more.
• Explored a wide range of industrial biotechnology products in the exhibition space, including a PLA-using 3D printer, as well as a showcase of BIO-TIC tools to drive growth of IB sector in Europe, i.e. the BIO-TIC partnering platform, the IB in Europe page, the IB product sustainability database and biomass flows for industrial usage in Europe.
A visit to Europe’s first open innovation and education center for the biobased economy, the Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant in Ghent, was organised on 24th June as a satellite event to the BIO-TIC final conference aiming to demonstrate a ‘real’ pilot facility – allowing participants to make the bridge from an abstract concept to a reality and to see the value that open access demonstration facillities have in bringing innovative products to life. Approximately 20 participants took part in the visit.
2. Bringing together the community
The BIO-TIC project aimed to bring together stakeholders to facilitate the transfer of knowledge and technology and thereby ensure a long lasting impact of the project. This objective has been met through several methods, namely the establishment of a partnering platform, a LinkedIn page for discussions on IB and the organisation of 14 workshops to discuss markets, hurdles and enablers for IB in Europe. Each is of these activities is described in more detail below.
These have been backed up with a comprehensive communications campaign, including web articles, dedicated mailshots, journal articles, presentations and exhibitions at trade fairs, conferences and scientific congresses both to the IB community and to the wider scientific community.
The Partnering Platform
The industrial biotech sector is not well connected at present. Identifying the right people, and making contact with these individuals can be a challenge. There is a need to forge new operational alliances in order to ensure innovation occurs.
The BIO-TIC partnering platform aims to be a central, European online brokerage platform for the industrial biotechnology sector, thus bringing together the IB community and helping to create often unconventional alliances, matching market demand (pull) with technology supply (push) sides. The platform helps users identify relevant stakeholders and end users at regional, national and international level. It provide users with prominent international visability, and helps users to quickly and selectively contact potential partners from across Europe which may otherwise only be available through chance encounters at events. The BIO-TIC partnering platform includes a technology database developed through the Interreg IVB BioBase NWE project. The platform has a database of over 5,000 users to date. The platform will be used within and built upon within the context of the Horizon 2020 BioLinX project which aims to bridge research and innovation efforts in the bioeconomy. The partnering platform can be accessed through the following link - http://www.industrial-biotechnology.eu/
The Linkedin Page
The industrial biotechnology sector is developing rapidly, and keeping abreast of developments can be a challenge. By learning from the experience of others, stakeholders can ensure that they build upon existing knowledge rather than duplicate existing work or repeat known failures. The project LinkedIn page - Industrial Biotech for Europe, provides a simple question and answer forum for users to post and answer questions on industrial biotechnology, and hence facilitate the transfer of knowledge and technology between stakeholders, promoting faster uptake of industrial biotechnology to market. The linkedin page also acts as a forum for knowledge sharing through announcements on new technologies, events and alliances, thus keeping users up to date with this dynamic sector and as a forum for discussions on project topics. The LinkedIn page currently has 667 members (as of mid-September 2015) and is growing, week on week.
BIO-TIC was based upon a thorough consultation process, and in order to obtain the views of a wide range of relevant stakeholders, the project organised 14 information gathering workshops throughout the course of the project. Eight of these were based in different countries of the EU, and aimed to stimulate discussions on their vision for industrial biotechology, the barriers to achieving this and possible solutions. Five product group specific workshops were organised to investigate the issues surrounding the uptake of industrial biotechnology in these products. One workshop was organised to discuss biomass sustainability and monitoring and fed into the development of the biomass data collection framework and the sustainability tool. These plaforms brought together different communities with an interest or possible interest in IB, including large industry, SMEs, start-ups, academia, policy makers, special interest groups and NGOs. Together, over 140 attendees participated in the regional workshops, over 150 for the product group specific workshops and over 25 for the biomass workshop.
Tweeting on Industrial Biotechnology
The BIO-TIC twitter account @IndBiotechEU was established in May 2014. News articles of relevance to the IB community, news about the project and events are added to the twitter feed almost daily. The account has over 617 followers and is growing week on week.
Exploitation of results
The strength of the BIO-TIC project is that it is based on a thorough stakeholder consultation process, thereby ensuring that the results obtained in the project are representative of the issues faced by the industry.
The BIO-TIC roadmap for overcoming hurdles for IB in Europe.
‘The bioeconomy enabled: A roadmap to a thriving industrial biotechnology sector in Europe’ represents an integrated overview of the market potential for IB in Europe to 2030, the principal hurdles and the possible solutions by which they can be overcome. This 40 page document represents the principal output of the project, and builds upon three technical appendices covering markets, non-technology issues and R&D issues in more depth. The roadmap (and its appendices) was officially launched on 23rd June 2015 in Brussels at the project’s final conference.
In order to start the implementation of (some of) the solutions and increase the market penetration of the major IB products studied in this project, there is still a need to identify the most efficient solutions (which solutions will have the biggest impact, which solutions can be implemented on the short term and medium term in an efficient way, etc.) with stakeholders and policy makers.
NB. For this reason, it is of the utmost importance that the results of this study are discussed in platforms such as the EU Bio-economy Panel and Observatory, the EU Biobased Products Expert Group, the BBI Governing Board, at the different European Commission DGs, as well as in national or regional policy platforms in order to stimulate the implementation of some of the major actions. Only this will support the development of a sustainable and competitive market for IB products in Europe. Such dissemination activities will continue beyond the end of the project.
The Partnering Platform
The BIO-TIC project built upon a platform developed in the BioChem project (FP6)
BioLinX is a three-year EU project that started in July 2015. BioLinX will bridge research and innovation efforts in the bio-economy by building three large clusters in Europe and initiating within them a range or powerful linking and innovation acceleration processes. This will involve the organisation of nine regional partnering events. These events will be accompanied by on-site and online partnering opportunities, making use of an interactive partnering platform. The BIO-TIC-Platform will form the basis for this platform, thus capitalising on the effort already spent during the BIO-TIC project while enabling the BioLinX project to start with a proven and established technology and functionalities.
The BIO-TIC Platform will have been adapted to the requirements of the BioLinX project (Call: ISIB-08b-2014, project number: 652692) by the end of December 2015. The aim is to introduce new classifications and completely integrate online, on-site and parallel online/on-site partnering functions. The functionality to organise both on-site, purely online and also parallel on-site/online partnering events with the revamped BIO-TIC platform (= BioLinX platform) will substantially increase the reach of the nine regional partnering events, resulting in more participants per partnering event and more effective networking. The use of the BioLinX platform as a purely partnering platform will lead to a significant rise in the number of users, compared with the old BIO-TIC platform, since it will actively contribute to the organisation of effective, customised meetings among different platform users. This will ensure active, high-potential use of the BIO-TIC platform in the framework of the BioLinX project. The BIO-TIC platform will be adapted accordingly in August and September 2015. During the reorganisation, users will have limited access to the BIO-TIC platform.
The IB product database
The BIO-TIC project has developed a prototype database for showing the socio-economic impact of a range of IB products. At present, the database gives the origin of various IB products (or chemical intermediates), its compliance with different sustainability schemes, LCA impact, and land use efficiency amongst other parameters. Available via the BIO-TIC website, it acts as a quick guide for those interested in the sustainability of IB products to find out more.
The database as it stands is a proto-type database with ca. 50 entries. It has the potential for further expansion, and to be a useful tool for companies wishing to identify possibleproducts that they can use. However, there is a longer term lack of resources for hosting and maintaining the database in order that it does not date and become obsolete (especially important given the fast rate of change in the IB sector). Although it contains many useful datasets, as the tool is a prototype, it needs ongoing input to make it more valuable to the IB community.
The BIO-TIC partners acknowledge that to be further developed, a further source of funding is needed for hosting and updating the tool. The partners also acknowledge that there is a risk that the EC may fund a similar tool which performs a similar function, rather than build upon this prototype. Awareness raising of the prototype tool will be carried out following the project end to ensure that people are aware of what it can do and that it exists.
The Biomass Reporting Framework
BIO-TIC aimed to develop a basis for the development of an institutional framework for annual reporting of biomass use for bioproducts (like the EurObser’ER on Renewable Energy), complementing reports on biomass use for energy under Directive 2009/28/EC.
The BIO-TIC project has done a first analysis on the amount of biomass being used in biobased products in Europe, expanding upon previous work done by the nova Institut. It complements existing work being carried out for the JRC Bioeconomy Observatory, using a different method.
There is limited data available for reporting how much biomass is used in biobased products. Within the framework of the BIO-TIC project, we have tried to identify the gaps, fix them and reconcile the available data so that it is more consistant and realistic. The data collected within the project is available on the project website at http://www.industrialbiotech-europe.eu/ and, as an open access resource, can be used by other projects to further develop a more complete picture for Europe or for member states.
It will be important that the Commission’s JRC and other FP7/Horizon2020 projects, such as Step2Bio are made aware of the findings of BIO-TIC.
List of Websites:
The project website is available at http://www.industrialbiotech-europe.eu/. The project email address is email@example.com.
Grant agreement ID: 312121
1 August 2012
31 July 2015
€ 2 809 777,60
€ 1 995 798
EUROPABIO - The European Association of Bioindustries
Deliverables not available
Grant agreement ID: 312121
1 August 2012
31 July 2015
€ 2 809 777,60
€ 1 995 798
EUROPABIO - The European Association of Bioindustries
Grant agreement ID: 312121
1 August 2012
31 July 2015
€ 2 809 777,60
€ 1 995 798
EUROPABIO - The European Association of Bioindustries