2014 is set to be a big year for Europe’s biobased industries. A number of initiatives within the UK and EU are offering funding to projects that will help stimulate research, create jobs and grow the economy.
Coupling research with innovation, these programmes aim to encourage the public and private sectors to work together to break down barriers to success, allowing more projects to get off the ground more rapidly and achieve results quicker, thus creating a thriving research community with a direct channel to credible investors.
One such initiative is Horizon 2020, which kicked off in January 2014. Forming the financial aspect of the EU Innovation Union, Horizon 2020’s aim is to create an innovation-friendly environment that makes it easier for ideas to be turned into products and services that will bring growth and jobs to the economy of the EU member states. With political backing across the community, it encourages the delivery of innovation through collaboration. The scheme is expected to provide around €4 billion of funding for development of the bioeconomy.
With an emphasis on innovation, several Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) have been formed; with a value of around €2.8billion, which will be made available between 2014 and 2020, the Bio-based Industries Initiative will help Europe compete in the global bioeconomy market.
In the UK, the bioeconomy research base has been bolstered by the Biology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) led Networks in Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy (NIBB) programme. Offering £18m of funding for 13 unique networks, the key goal is to support competitive, cross-disciplinary working between research communities and industry in industrial biotechnology and bioenergy sectors. By driving new research in the development of pharmaceuticals, chemicals and energy, the funding will help further research into the manufacture of high value, innovative products .The networks will also be provided with funding to support proof of concept studies to demonstrate the benefits to industry.
BBRSC, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) are also launching a joint venture, the IB Catalyst, which will provide a further source of funding for biobased research. It will provide financial support to projects involving collaborations between the academic and business communities who are undertaking research in the field of genomic, systems and synthetic biology and help provide finance to take these projects from concept through to industrial scale production. With funding of £45 million for the initial call, it is hoped that further investment from the private sector will follow.
These initiatives herald a new era of support for bioeconomy development and will provide a research base which will allow the UK and EU’s bioeconomy and biobased businesses to become better able to compete in the global marketplace.