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A European technology platform on industrial biotechnology for sustainable development

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One platform for multiple biotech benefits

The efforts of an EU-funded project have gone a long way to consolidating activities in the field of industrial biotechnology. The formation of a related technology platform will help remove barriers to technological developments benefitting the socioeconomic interests of all of Europe.

Industrial Technologies

Companies active in various industry sectors are fast warming to the potential of biotechnological processes for raw materials utilisation as well as sustainable production. Industrial or white biotechnology (WB) can lower capital and operating costs, and reduce raw material usage, energy input and waste production, as well as help improve the environmental friendliness of industrial activities. However, many of the available technologies have yet to be fully exploited; this is largely attributable to barriers such as regulatory constraints, inconsistent policies across Europe, lacklustre investment and poor technology transfer. 'A European Technology Platform on industrial biotechnology for sustainable development' (White Biotech TP) is a project forming a Specific Support Action (SSA) that aims to establish a European Technology Platform (ETP) related to a recent Vision Paper developed by stakeholders, Member States and the European Commission. The paper outlines how to bring about needed change in this area and how to use the region’s leading scientific edge for socioeconomic and sustainable growth related to WB. SusChem-IB, the ETP for Industrial or White Biotechnology, achieved a broad stakeholder basis by bringing together key stakeholders from academia, industry, national and regional governments and authorities, trade unions, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the European Commission. A policy committee was created to develop a policy agenda, and a Member States' mirror group including representatives from national research programmes was established. The platform’s industrial biotechnology section developed, among other successes, an Action Plan focusing on structural policy measures that provide incentives and can help overcome barriers to the introduction of industrial biotechnology. Implementation of the action plan was initiated with mechanisms for monitoring progress as the platform developed. To meet the broad objectives of the industrial biotechnology sector, key research and technology areas were defined and individually analysed. The aim was to set the foundation for supporting future industrial biotechnology developments and applications in various areas. Priorities and activities related to developments in industrial biotechnology focused on two major themes of application: bio-economy and bioenergy. Project results can help remove barriers and set out coherent policies as well as create public awareness of societal benefits so as to unleash the potential of WB exploitation. Outcomes can enable the implementation of recommendations of the Vision Paper and contribute to a strengthened European Research Area by countering the fragmentation and agreeing on a related coherent Strategic Research Agenda.

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