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BISO Report Summary

Project ID: 341300
Funded under: FP7-KBBE
Country: Belgium

Final Report Summary - BISO (Support to Policies - Set Up of a Bioeconomy Observatory (BISO project: Bioeconomy Information System and Observatory))

Executive Summary:
The three-year Bioeconomy Information System Observatory (BISO) project ran from March 2013 to February 2016. It was funded with a budget of € 1 500 000 by the 7th Framework Programme. An administrative arrangement between DG RTD and JRC defined the project's work programme. Its project team comprised staff of three JRC units (A2/H6, H8 and J4).

At the end of its lifetime, the achievements of the BISO project include the following:

+ The research, stakeholder and dissemination activities of BISO have helped raising awareness for the topic "bioeconomy" and establishing the European Commission as an important partner for Member States, regions and researchers looking for guidance in further developing bioeconomy strategies.

+ A methodological framework, access to data sets and analysis of strategic sectors have enhanced the available knowledge and information about the state and potential of the EU bioeconomy.

+ BISO organised three stakeholder events with between 30 and more than 100 participants. In addition, the BISO team
-attended Bioeconomy and Biomass Interservice Group (ISG) meetings;
-presented the Observatory and its activities at numerous relevant events and conferences;
-coordinated and cooperated with customer DGs (mainly RTD, AGRI and GROW), Member States, EU regions, international partners and bioeconomy stakeholder groups in the framework of events and bilateral meetings.
-organised three consultation workshops specifically dedicated to environmental sustainability assessment in cooperation with Imperial College – London.

+ Data and information dissemination was facilitated through the development of the Bioeconomy Observatory website which provides repositories of data and study reports, factsheets, visualisations of data sets, news, etc.

+ 21 country, 12 regional and one international bioeconomy profiles were compiled drawing on available databases (mainly Eurostat) and information provided by stakeholders. A 'joint JRC-SCAR Member States survey' provided additional valuable input.

+ A study of the EU bio-based industry was finalised in 2015. It included the identification of about 133 relevant companies and the analysis of product types, production trends, sales, investment, R&D, employment and feedstock use. Additionally, the main drivers and barriers for the development of the bio-based industry were identified. The results of the study are about to be published as a JRC technical report.

+ The DataM data management tool was complemented by
- 115 data bases (mainly from Eurostat) about European biomass flows and European bioeconomy activity sectors which were compiled and structured into 15 datasets;
- two new data sets: "DataM - Biomass Estimates" and "DataM – Bioeconomics";
- fine-tuning three bioeconomy sub-topics (biomass, forestry and fisheries) in cooperation with a contractor;
- ten tailor-made reports depicting biomass production and trade.

+ A forward-looking tool (MAGNET) was further developed to analyse the potential of the bioeconomy to contribute to economic growth and job generation in the EU towards 2030. To this end, MAGNET was extended to cover sources of biomass supply (i.e. residues, plantations and pellets), second generation bio-fuels based on thermal and biochemical technologies and biochemical activities. A report is expected in spring 2016.

+ 25 standardised brief environmental factsheets of different bio-based products and their supply chains were compiled using a comprehensive environmental sustainability assessment methodology. The methodology was adapted from the life-cycle based Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) method, jointly developed by the JRC and DG ENV. This made it possible to use publicly available and accessible data and information in order to summarise the 25 value chains.

The BISO project has helped enhancing and communicating knowledge about the bioeconomy. Nevertheless, knowledge relevant for the bioeconomy is overall still too dispersed and not sufficiently coordinated. In order to address this challenge, the following lessons learnt from the BISO project can inform future work of the Observatory:

1- Bioeconomy is a matter to be addressed more at cross-sectoral level than with a silos approach (cooperation should be rather multilateral than bilateral).
2- Good collaborative relations with partners inside and outside the Commission, based on mutual trust and reciprocal benefits, are crucial to: i) ensure access to and availability of data and information; ii) develop a comprehensive knowledge base (e.g. studies, analysis and foresight); iii) reach out to and target different audiences, notably policy makers, industry, researchers and citizens
3- Relevant data on the bioeconomy are missing and are not included in traditional statistics, in particular when it comes to bio-based products and sectors that use both bio-based and fossil-based raw materials. The use of ad hoc surveys and as well other sources of information need to be considered (e.g. expert estimations of bio-based shares, private sector data, web, crowdsourcing...) to gather additional data, notably providing the basis for estimating bio-based shares in hybrid sectors.
New technologies and practices help developing new value chains and reducing negative environmental impacts. Therefore ´biotechnology watch is crucial

Project Context and Objectives:
- Policy background -

In February 2012, the European Commission published a Communication "Innovating for Sustainable Growth: A Bioeconomy for Europe" (COM(2012)60), co-signed by five Commissioners: Ms Geoghegan-Quinn for Research, Mr Tajani for Industry, Mr Ciolos for Agriculture, Ms Damanaki for Fisheries and Mr Potocnik for Environment.

The Communication presents a Bioeconomy Strategy and Action Plan. Its overarching goal is to shift the European economy towards a greater and more sustainable use of renewable resources.

In the EU context, the communication defines the bioeconomy as encompassing “the production of renewable biological resources and the conversion of these resources and waste streams into value-added products such as food, feed, bio-based products and bioenergy.” It includes thus both the production and transformation of biomass.

The Bioeconomy Strategy is structured around three key pillars:
-Investments in Research, Innovation and Skills (research pillar)
-Reinforced policy interaction and stakeholder engagement (policy pillar)
-Enhancement of markets and competitiveness in bioeconomy (markets pillar)

In this context, item N°6 of the Action Plan refers to the establishment of a Bioeconomy Observatory as follows: "Establish a Bioeconomy Observatory in close collaboration with existing information systems that allows the Commission to regularly assess the progress and impact of the bioeconomy and develop forward-looking and modelling tools." The detailed Bioeconomy Action Plan further specifies in its Action 6.1 the objectives: "Establish a Bioeconomy Observatory to follow the evolution of bioeconomy markets and the impacts (socio-economic, scientific technological, market and legislation) of policies, where such mechanisms do not yet exist, as well as research and innovation activities affecting the bioeconomy in Europe and beyond".

The establishment of a Bioeconomy Observatory is therefore an essential element of the implementation of the EU Bioeconomy Strategy. It is linked to other parts of the Strategy and Action Plan, in particular those related to "reinforced policy interaction and stakeholder engagement" (the so-called "policy pillar").

-Project context and objectives-

Further to the publication of the EU Bioeconomy Communication, DG RTD approached the JRC to take the responsibility of establishing the Bioeconomy Observatory(Action No6 of the EU Bioeconomy Action Plan).

In July 2012, DG RTD published its 2013 Annual FP7 Work Programme, which included under "other actions (not implemented through calls for proposals)" a dedicated funding to "Support to policies: set up a Bioeconomy Observatory" and a budget of 1 500 000 EUR for 3 years to be granted to the "JRC as named beneficiary".

In February 2013, RTD and JRC agreed on a final work programme and signed an Administrative Arrangement regarding a three-year project "to set up a Bioeconomy Observatory" (with a budget of 1 500 000 EUR granted to JRC, contract No 341300 - title: Bioeconomy Information System Observatory (BISO) project).

March 2013 was the starting point of this three-year project to set up a Bioeconomy Observatory.

The Observatory should help address the challenge that there was not yet an integrated monitoring tool which would allow assessing the progress and impact of the bioeconomy, while embracing the bioeconomy, as defined in the 2012 EU Bioeconomy Strategy) in all its dimensions.

- Initial problem: Limited availability (or even absence) of reliable data and information on the bioeconomy
- Affects: Policy makers (at EU, national, regional level) and economic actors in bioeconomy (biomass producers, bio-based industries)
- The impact of which is: Limitations on sound decision-making (at policy, research or economic levels) because of limited availability of reliable facts and figures on the bioeconomy
- A successful solution would be

To establish the EU Bioeconomy Observatory as "the reference source of information on the bioeconomy", providing the following key benefits:
- a reliable source of information
- a centralised source of information
- including both quantitative data and qualitative information
- addressing the bioeconomy in all its dimensions

The Bioeconomy Observatory has been developed to function as an integrated source of data and information on the bioeconomy, with policy-makers as primary customers and the core objective to provide them with a reference source of information, including authoritative data and analyses on bioeconomy. This information aims to help providing a solid basis for coherent policy decisions to support the development of the bioeconomy in Europe.

Even if the Bioeconomy Strategy explicitly refers to the need to monitor the development of the bioeconomy, it should be noted that the Bioeconomy Strategy does not set any specific quantitative targets, nor specific key performance indicators for the bioeconomy in Europe.

Project Results:
According to the initial agreement (established in the Description of Work – DoW), the project is articulated around the following four Work Packages (WPs):

WP1: Methodology.
This work package constitutes an essential component as this activity laid the basis and defined the orientation of the activities of the Observatory. The work related to this package aimed to deliver a methodology report and was conducted in 2013 and 2014. As suggested by the proposal, the methodology was structured following the three pillars of the EU Bioeconomy Strategy.
In addition, the methodology validation process and stakeholder consultations and comments were taken into account throughout the project.

The information system and ICT infrastructure of BISO has been implemented following the recommendations of the methodology report. A key outcome of the project is the setting up of a Bioeconomy Observatory website, structured around the 3 pillars of the EU Bioeconomy Strategy: Research, Policy and Markets.
The first version of the website was launched in 2014. It was developed together with an external contractor (Novacomm). This contractor was engaged via a framework contract provided by DG COMM. The website has been set up as sub-site of the existing RTD website on bioeconomy.

WP3: Information.
The backbone of the project consists in data collection and analysis. Data and analysis have been disseminated through the BISO website. The data and information collected under BISO includes mainly relevant data and information extracted from existing databases and information systems. Analysis and accounting on socio-economic and key environmental sustainability indicators complement this information.

WP4: Coordination.
Final results are the fruit of the coordinated action between the three JRC units involved in BISO. In addition to bilateral adhoc interactions, the Bioeconomy Observatory team also facilitated "(PMT) Project Management Team" meetings and three stakeholders roundtable events (one per year).

The BISO team is composed of four teams with staff from three units. WP2 and WP4 have been managed by Unit A.02/H6, while activities in WP1 and WP3 were kept horizontal for the whole team.

In October 2015, the primary coordinator contact and leader for WP4, was transferred from JRC Unit A2 (HQ) to Unit H6 (ISPRA).

In order to be able to continue activities already in place and to continue the good implementation of the actions with partners within the EC, but also with other stakeholders in general, the A2 BISO team members remained in Brussels.

The operational team structure within the JRC was designed with a view to providing adequate implementation, dissemination and communication to interested parties. In this context the roles and responsibilities of different JRC partners within the project were defined as follows:

TEAM 1- Unit: H6 (Digital Earth and Reference Data Unit)
Institute: IES (Institute for Environmental Sustainability)

Team based in: Brussels, Belgium
+Project management and coordination
- Interaction with customer DG (DG RTD)
- Internal coordination including team meetings and coordination of deliverables

+Definition of methodology
- In co-operation with the other teams launch and follow-up of the "Study on: Methodology framework for the Bioeconomy Observatory"

+Stakeholder relations
- Organisation of stakeholder roundtable events
- Consultations
- Bilateral meetings

+Collecting policy and research data (
- Member State data (including a survey directed at MS)
- Data from regions
- Third country case studies

+Setting up BISO website (
- Data dissemination
- Fact-sheets summarising key bioeconomy facts & figures (
- Repository of reports (

TEAM 2 - Unit: J4 (Agriculture and Life Science in the Economy Unit) Aritech group
Institute: IPTS (Institute for Prospective Technological Studies)

Team based in: Seville, Spain
+Cooperation in methodology definition

+Study of the EU bio-based industry for collection of data on the current status and expected evolution of the bio-based industry within the EU
- Launch of tender
- Interaction with contractor in the following activities:
--Consulting experts to fine-tune a list of relevant bio-based chemicals and composite products
--Definition and identification of the target population of ~133 EU companies producing bio-based chemicals and composites
--Preparation of a survey strategy and a questionnaire to obtain information on bio-based products, production facilities, research and development, numbers of employees, production volume, use of feedstocks, turnover of sales and production costs
--Conduct of survey and analysis of results

TEAM 3 - Unit: J4 (Agriculture and Life Science in the Economy Unit) - Agritrade group
Institute: IPTS (Institute for Prospective Technological Studies)

Team based in: Seville, Spain
+Cooperation in methodology definition

+Databases (DataM,, available through EC intranet only)
- Compilation of 115 new databases structured and harmonised into 15 datasets in DataM back-office covering agriculture, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture, waste, renewable energies and bio-based economic sectors
- New dataset: DataM – Biomass estimates (agricultural production, crop residues and usage of crop residues, at MS level for the time period 1991-2013)
- Data set on turnover and employment in the European bio-economy (under construction)

+Visualization of the bioeconomy including biomass estimates (
- Harmonisation of data concepts and release of three harmonised sets of databases covering the biomass, forestry and fisheries domains
- Elaboration of dynamic pre-defined reports for the former two domains

+Macroeconomic modelling of the bioeconomy
- Providing forward-looking tool (time horizon towards 2030) to analyse the potential of the bioeconomy to contribute economic growth and job generation in the EU
- Using MAGNET (Modular Agricultural GeNeral Equilibrium Tool), a state-of-the-art neoclassical multi-region CGE model
- Extension of model to represent sources of biomass supply (i.e. residues, plantations and pellets), second generation bio-fuels based on thermal and biochemical technologies and biochemical activities
- Baseline narrative up to 2030 capturing medium term market developments under a business as usual set of assumptions conditioned by macroeconomic, technological, biophysical and policy developments
- Illustrative scenarios showing alternative pathways

+Reports and factsheet
- JRC Science and Policy Report "Structural Patterns of the Bioeconomy in the EU Member States – a SAM approach", 2014.
- Scientific article DOI: 10.5424/sjar/2014124-6192
- JRC Science and Policy Report "Evaluating the macroeconomic impacts of bio-based applications in the EU", 2014.
- JRC technical report "DataM – Biomass estimates (v3): A new database to quantify biomass availability in the European Union", 2015.
- Factsheet "The bio-economy in the European Union in numbers - Facts and figures on the Bio-economy"

TEAM 4 - Unit: H8 (Sustainable Assessment Unit)
Institute: IES (Institute for Environmental Sustainability)
Team based in: Ispra, Italy
+Cooperation in methodology definition

+Developing relevant key environmental indicators concerning biomass production, logistics and use

+Comparative life-cycle based assessment of example bio-based products and their supply chains, from the primary production of biological resources to end-of-life processes

+Sustainability assessment
- Designing minimum sustainability criteria for biomass production, mobilization and its industrial applications (e.g. in terms of resource efficiency, GHG emissions, land use change, forest exploitation, etc.)
- Elaboration/integration of comprehensive, multi-criteria sustainability assessment tools for both existing and emerging bio-products’ (e.g. bio-based chemicals, bio-based plastics, enzymes, bio-based materials, biofuels) performance, in terms of environmental impact
- Developing methodological tools for tracing the bio-products’ sustainability criteria compliance across the whole supply chain
- Coping with the competing use options of both biomass and land in a multi-sector / multi-region approach
- Developing methodological tools for sustainability assessment of existing and prospective technologies

+Reports and factsheet (

Potential Impact:
The Bioeconomy Information System and Observatory Project contributed to increasing available knowledge on and awareness for the bioeconomy.
- Awareness has been increased through research, stakeholder and dissemination activities of BISO.
- The project contributed to establishing the European Commission as an important partner for Member States, regions and researchers looking for guidance in further developing bioeconomy strategies.
- An advanced methodological framework has been put in place, providing access to data sets and analysis of strategic sectors
- Knowledge has been disseminated to the wider public through a dedicated website and through the organisation of stakeholder events.

Stakeholder engagement has been highlighted as a priority in the EU Bioeconomy Strategy and was a major part of the BISO dissemination activities. The Bioeconomy Observatory project has been interacting with stakeholders (in a wider sense) since its inception.

Networking and external communication was crucial to give visibility to BISO, to map existing actors and initiatives, to better understand policy makers' and stakeholders' expectations concerning the Bioeconomy Observatory, and also to support the collection of policy information (mostly qualitative information).

During the three-year project lifetime, the team also maintained interactions with actors from a large range of sectors, with a view to establishing partnerships for collecting input to the Observatory. Many partners valued the Observatory and the visibility it can provide.
Interactions with bioeconomy stakeholders at geographical level (Member States and regions, third countries) have allowed the collection of qualitative information relevant for the Bioeconomy Observatory, such as policy reports and technical recommendations.
Stakeholder relations and collecting policy information collection were mainly organised in cooperation with:
- European Commission
- Member States
- EU Regions
- International partners (non-EU countries and international organisations)
- Bioeconomy-relevant stakeholder groups

The BISO stakeholder engagement activities also included the organisation of stakeholder events where experts could provide comments and feedback on the work developed by the project.

The Bioeconomy Observatory website ( was an important means for BISO to disseminate knowledge, such as data and other research findings. In order to fulfil this role, the website needed to integrate knowledge and data from different sources. The set-up of the website included the following actions:

1. Setting up the pilot prototype based on a jointly created information architecture and wireframes, completed by user-tests of the prototype
2. Development of the website set-up as sub-site of the existing RTD website on bioeconomy.
3. Launch of the website during the 3rd EU Bioeconomy Stakeholders Conference in Turin, Italy.
4. Integration of data collected in the website, for example factsheets summarising key bioeconomy facts and figures, repository of reports and document library, harmonised databases, visualization of datasets, reports and environmental factsheet, FP7 project overview, EMM news integration, and inclusion of some visualisations coming from DataM Web.
5. Development of a new prototype for a future Bioeconomy Observatory website stepping away from the 3 pillars structure initially used in the first versions of the BISO website, where content will be organised by topic and geographical dimension.

The exploitation of BISO results includes the continuation of the Observatory based on lessons learnt during the BISO project. In order to prepare the future of the Observatory, BISO organised consultations of policy makers and stakeholders, including a survey exercise in 2015, towards the end of the BISO project. The objectives of the survey were to learn more about stakeholders' expectations from the next Observatory and to know which kind of information, data, studies and other web content stakeholders are interested in.

The survey and further reflections and exchanges confirmed the need to revise the strategy for the Observatory, leading to a new vision. This vision proposes that the EU Bioeconomy Observatory should become the European Commission’s single entry point to intelligence about the bioeconomy.
In order to make the project more sustainable, the JRC decided to turn it into a permanent structure that would be more aligned with the needs of policy makers and stakeholders and take into account the lessons learnt from the BISO project.

List of Websites:

Directorate-General Joint Research Centre (JRC)
Institute for Environment and Sustainability
Unit H.6 – Digital Earth & Reference Data

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