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CommBeBiz Report Summary

Project ID: 652707
Funded under: H2020-EU.3.2.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - CommBeBiz (CommBeBiz - Communicating and Bridging BioEconomy Research to Business)

Reporting period: 2015-03-01 to 2016-08-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

CommBeBiz - communicating and bridging bioeconomy to business - is a three year communications support action that runs from March 2015 to February 2018. Its aim is to support FP7, H2020 and other EC funded research projects working across the bioeconomy (food, agriculture, marine, forestry and biotech) to ensure that their work, results, intellectual and practical 'products' reach the stakeholders who can in turn can fully exploit these products, approaches and knowledge for the benefit of the European community.

CommBeBiz is seeking to achieve this over-arching objective by understanding the needs of the projects and individual researchers involved, engaging them via activities that meet those needs, and most importantly evaluating the effectiveness of those actions, so that not only the project itself but also other actors offering support to projects can learn from the experiences of CommBeBiz and its evaluation process.

CommBeBiz has therefore been designed as a 'Pilot Plan' ensuring that it records the effectiveness of its actions, primarily from members and participants but also from the perspectives of partners, practitioners and external agents. The on-going assessment of the project's work will be collated into the BeBizBlueprint, which will be shared directly with the EC and key agents, and cascaded and promoted widely via multipliers by all interested and appropriate parties.

The key characteristics of the CommBeBiz project are:.
• CommBeBiz has four partners in its consortium and whilst each of the Work Packages has a defined lead, all partners are working collaboratively on shared tasks
• CommBeBiz aims to effect change and to achieve this goal it is vital that we focus on ‘up-skilling’ and inspiring individual researchers as well as endeavouring to support projects overall, hence our focus on recruiting “people” as well as “projects” into our actions
• CommBeBiz is interested in projects with a focus on social innovation, public good and policy as well as those driving innovation with commercial potential.
• This is particularly apt for the Bioeconomy sector where it is vital to understand and help drive perception, engagement and behaviour change in society as well as that of individual consumers so that new ideas, technologies and products will be understood and accepted.
• Effective communications is a fundamental skill that underpins the drive to innovation – and whilst scientists are generally good at communicating with other scientists they are (mostly) untrained, unskilled and unfamiliar in communicating with industry, policy-players and the general public, directly or via the media. Hence the CommBeBiz focus on opportunities and actions that support ‘up-skilling’ in this area, combined with bringing researchers face-to-face, on line and in real time, with industry, policy and media practitioners.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

The first half of the project - the 18 month period from March 2015 to August 2016 - first focused on laying down the fundamental pillars of our work, namely engaging with funded FP7 and other bioeconomy research projects via surveys and direct communication to assess their support needs to help drive 'innovation'. Due to other CSA projects being funded at the same time to work with specific segments of the FP7 cohort of projects, CommBeBiz's (CBB) allocated list of c 400 projects was composed of mainly projects at TRL 6 and below, with a significant number finished 3+ years previously. Around 100 projects across all Bioeconomy segments were surveyed by partners with additional work required to update and complete the database provided by the EC.

All partners in CommBeBiz are aware that the primary interest of researchers is their own research and in most cases that any activity that does not fit (in their view) directly with that activity, or is somehow rewarded, is deemed to be a low priority. The Partners work on the FP7 database confirmed the project’s understanding in this area, and we have therefore focused attention more closely on the provision of opportunities and activities that ‘chime’ with identified needs and trends, with individual ‘matched’ activities and contacts, closely allied to the subject content of research and/or industry or policy sector.

The emphasis of the H2020 framework programme on innovation and knowledge transfer – and the ‘stick’ of the appropriate clauses in the Grant Agreement that state communication as a requirement- are driving changes in attitude and action among the scientific community not only those engaged in EC funded work but also funded through other mechanisms. However, many actors involved in FP7 funded projects do not have their attention focused on these tangible external outcomes. A practical effect currently for CommBeBiz is the low interest in one of our flagship activities – the ‘Awards’ – reported in WP5. The consortium is currently looking at new ways to address this challenge, in order to work more closely with H2020 funded projects in the new wave of interviews (autumn 2016), and this challenge will be discussed in more detail .

During the first half of the project, the CBB segment of the FP7 database has been surveyed, the web platform established, 5 segment managers appointed,10 webinars across industry, policy and communications delivered, the first Annual Meeting held in Dublin, press releases issued and social media accounts managed. The first wave of CBB Awards have been presented and support packages to enable a drive towards innovation is in process.Additionally the Alumni Survey has been established to generate both qualitative and quantitative data on the effectiveness of the project's actions to date and to feed into the project's key final deliverable the BeBizBlueprint. CBB partners have promoted awareness of CBB via attendance at meetings, presenting at key external events such as Platform2 and the Bioeconomy Conference in Utrecht and investing in a key presence at ESOF2016 in the UK. The establishment of a and expert and broad Media Panel supports the cascade of knowledge on bioeconomy research and its mission of addressing key societal challenges.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

Funds invested by the EC and its agencies on behalf of its member states into its research programme must on the one hand deliver results for society and citizens in order to demonstrate value for money. On the other, the push to achieve a successful post-petroleum society, one less reliant on all fossil fuels is a vital one and the bioeconomy research programme, is focused on addressing this key societal challenge. The CommBeBiz project has been designed and is being delivered to contribute to that drive.

Through its programme of work of engaging with researchers and projects, online and face-to-face, providing training opportunities via webinars, networking via meetings and on-line, organising 'matching' events with industry,by engaging with the mainstream, specialist and online media and utilising social media, CommBeBiz is providing effective support to cascade their ideas, knowledge and innovative approaches effectively to targeted stakeholders and therefore support the uptake of research knowledge and results.

In the field of the Bioeconomy the perception and understanding of the public and key segments of it is vital to ensure that new ideas, approaches and products are known, accepted and adopted. The work of CommBeBiz, with its members, with the media, social media, training of bioeconomy researchers to communicate more effectively, and by providing peer-to-peer support and direct targeted contacts is contributing to the drive towards innovation and sustainability.

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