Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


Pilots4U Report Summary

Project ID: 745667
Funded under: H2020-EU.3.2.6.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - Pilots4U (A network of bioeconomy open access pilot and multipurpose demo facilities)

Reporting period: 2017-06-01 to 2018-05-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

One of the main challenges in the rapidly evolving bio-economy is to bring the newly developed molecules and techniques from the lab to the market. Innovation progresses along the stages of the ‘innovation chain’: discovery (research) - technology development (piloting) – first production (demo) – market introduction (deployment). The main bottleneck in the innovation chain of the bio-based economy today is the step from technology development to deployment. This step has to be performed first in a pilot plant and later in a demonstration plant where a production process can be tested and optimized in industrial production setting. Pilot- and demo-plants are expensive industrial installations that require specific expertise to be run and most SMEs and also a lot of large companies have no direct access to such facilities. As a result promising innovation processes grind to a halt. A solution to this problem are the ‘open access pilot- and multipurpose demo-infrastructures’. These are infrastructures that are open to all companies and research institutes, and can thus be seen as shared investments in research infrastructure. These infrastructures are not well known in the broad R&D&I communities across Europe. Neither are the communities aware of the nature and type of equipment and facilities that is available. Pilots4U wants to address this problem by grouping all European open access bio-economy pilot- and multipurpose demo facilities under one, very visible and easily accessible network. Pilots4U also wants to assess the current and future needs of the European bio-economy, and take the first steps to invest in equipment modules that are judged essential to catalyse the European bio- economy. Pilots4U has the following objectives:
1. Setup one very visible, easy accessible network of open access pilot and multipurpose demo-infrastructures for the European bio-economy with Europe-wide coverage and protecting IP rights of users. The network will remain active after the project end. Pilots4U will lay down the foundations of this network. Pilots4U aims to cover the full bio-economy. To define bio-economy, the value chains outlined by the Bio-industries Consortium (BIC) in their Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda (SIRA), and elaborated on in later BBI-JU calls were taken as a reference.
2. An analysis of the current capabilities of this open access pilot- and multipurpose demo infrastructure network, and an assessment of its criticality. An assessment of the status of competences supporting scale-up equipment and process plant with respect to continuity planning.
3. An analysis of the needs of the European biobased industry regarding pilot- and multipurpose demo-infrastructures, both now and in the near term, and provide a gap analysis to identify deficiencies in the existing provision of bio-economy scale up equipment and process plant.
4. A plan with remedies, actions and proposals for bridging the identified gap between current capabilities and European biobased industry needs. This is done by identifying priority options and potential funding mechanisms for future investment in scale up equipment and process plant, and by identifying means and modes by which existing open access facilities can better serve client needs, drawing on best practice examples and means of improving co-operation.

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

Pilots4U was able to setup a visible, easily accessible network of open access pilot and multipurpose demo-infrastructures for the European bio-economy by means of an open DATABASE. The database is freely accessible through the Pilots4U website ( All infrastructures known to the consortium were contacted to list their pilot equipment in this asset database, using the ‘database entry form’ that is also available on the website. The existence of the database was communicated widely in the combined network of the partners, and at events that the partners attended. At the moment, the database contains 262 entries from 86 organisations located in 14 different countries. The network covers the following technological bioeconomy disciplines, that are a translation of the bio-economy fields covered by the Bio-Industries Consortium: algal cultivation, anaerobic digestion, chemical conversion, fractionation and purification, industrial biotechnology, material technologies, pulping, thermal conversion. All defined ‘bioeconomy technological disciplines’ have database entries. The consortium continues to promote the use of the database to potential infrastructure users. In the coming year, possible mechanisms to sustain the network will be identified. Two workshops will be organised where all organisations that made an entry in the database will be invited, in order to discuss about the possible mechanism to keep the database and the network active after the project end.
The European capabilities in terms of open access pilot- and demo infrastructure was assessed, based on the database entries, and the knowledge of the consortium regarding open access centers in Europe. To assure that the network meets the needs of the European bio-economy industry (SMEs, start-ups, Large enterprises), current European pilot and demo-capabilities are compared with the needs of the European biobased industry. The needs were be gathered through a SURVEY.

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)

The project provided detailed data and information on accessible equipment and aligned personnel competences in the EU to support biorefinery scale-up and development. The outputs of the project provided essential information to enable guidance to facilitate the development of a strategy for the provision of equipment and process plant deemed essential to the continued development of the biorefinery sector in the EU.

Expected results obtained so far:
• Detailed analysis of the relevant open access pilot plant and equipment modules available for use by research organisations and industry in the development and multipurpose demonstration of biorefinery processes
• Assessment of the status of existing bioeconomy relevant plant and equipment modules in terms of continued provision and identifying key assets that are of critical importance to enabling development and multipurpose demonstration of biorefinery-relevant processes
• Assessment of industry and SME needs currently and in the near-future
• Opportunities to learn from demonstrable best operational practice
• Development of operational and legal models to encourage joint working and collaboration
• Awareness raising
• One Europe-wide network of open access pilot and multipurpose demo-facilities with a central point of entry (containing a searchable database of infrastructure and equipment modules)

PIlots4U succeeded in setting up one Europe-wide open access pilot and multipurpose demo-infrastructure network currently gathering 86 existing, state-of-the-art facilities. The capabilities of the network members fall into the bio-economy value chains, as defined by BIC. The bio-economy value chains were divided in the following area's: algae cultivation and harvesting, anaerobic digestion, chemical processing, industrial biorechnology, Material technologies, mechanical separations, physicochemical separarations, pretreatment, pulping, thermochemical conversions. Pilots4U also highlighted best practices of working with open access centers, including regarding IP arrangements. The info is publically available on the Pïlots4U website (

Related information

Follow us on: RSS Facebook Twitter YouTube Managed by the EU Publications Office Top