SME’s can now access ‘Innovation Coupons’ worth up to 30.000€ to assess the feasibility of an innovative biobased process at Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant in Ghent, Belgium. These Innovation Coupons are an initiative of Bio Base NWE, a project to support the development off the bio-based economy in North West Europe (NWE). So far, the partnership granted fifteen innovation coupons worth 10.000€ to smaller SME’s to validate biobased ideas. Raising the value of the coupon to a potential amount of 30.000€, provides Bio Base NWE with an extra tool to also assist larger SME’s looking for process-validation and to shorten the time-to-market for biobased innovations in general.
Bio Base NWE is a three-year and € 6,2 million project launched by the European Commission in 2013 to support the development of the bio-based economy in North West Europe (NWE). The Bio Base NWE partnership includes organisations from five different countries and works mainly with small and medium businesses (SME’s) to help facilitate innovation and business development in bio-based technologies.
One of the tools of the partnership is financial support by way of Innovation Coupons. Initially, these coupons represented a value of 10.000€ each for work undertaken at the Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant, an independent, flexible, state-of–the-art demonstration facility in Ghent, Belgium, to demonstrate innovative bio-based technologies. Fifteen innovation coupons have been awarded so far and the impact of the coupons on SME’s is very positive.
“The Innovation Coupon which Celtic Renewables received, enabled the company to achieve the smooth transition of its innovative process technology to the Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant, and the commencement of scale-up trials of the technology.”, says Marc Simmers, CEO of Celtic Renewables, an Edinburgh-based bio- butanol company. “The expected successful outcome of these trials will allow Celtic Renewables to accelerate the commercialisation of the innovation, and to move towards the full-scale industrial deployment across Europe.”
Rudi Dieleman, CEO of Pectcof (The Netherlands), states: “It is not just about the money, it is all about the technical support. Scale-up is unpredictable business, a process that works perfectly in the lab, can behave completely different in a larger production batch. The Innovation Coupon gave us access to the valuable scale-up skills and expertise at Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant, and helped us to shape a commercially viable industrial process.”
However, an analysis of the coupon system revealed that a coupon worth € 10.000 is too small to allow many SMEs to effectively interact with the coupon scheme and was therefore not stimulating bioeconomy development as intended. Lieve Hoflack, Manager of the Bio Base NWE project, says: “The SMEs requesting a coupon are all micro-SMEs of 10 employees or less, using the coupon for an idea-validation of a process that is still far from being market-ready. Larger SMEs are typically more interested in more expensive process-validation as idea-validations are done in-house.”
Increasing the coupon amount improves the attractiveness of the coupon scheme for larger SME’s. Early collaboration with experienced personal in a flexible facility with a wide range of process equipment and thus, out-sourcing process validation and scale-up can substantially reduce costs, risks and development time and will reinforce the chance to successful market entry. The new coupon scheme will allow micro-SMEs to do more than just validate their innovative idea. Being able to also start up process validation, will considerably lower their risks and shorten their time-to-market. Hence, increasing the value of the coupon up to €30.000 results in more biobased processes coming to market and growth of the bio-economy in general.
SME’s can apply for an Innovation Coupon until June 2015, the application procedure is very easy. Interested companies are invited to contact their local Bio-Innovation Agent (www.BioBaseNWE.org) who will guide them through the application process.
Notes to Editors:
1. Testimonies of BBNWE Innovation Coupon users: see www.BioBaseNWE.org, more specific: http://www.biobasenwe.org/en/skills-expertise/success-stories/.
Watch the video of Celtic Renewables (Scotland): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FHpSIrhBZek
Watch the video of Eco-Treasures (Belgium): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJe7KRPZcKM
Or contact your local Bio-Innovation Agent: see http://www.biobasenwe.org/en/contact/.
4. The Bio Base NWE partners are: Bio Base Europe international non-profit organisation (BE); Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant (BE); Ghent Bio-Economy Valley (BE); Bio Base Europe Training Center (NL); REWIN/Biobased Innovations (NL); Cluster Industrielle Biotechnologie (DE); National University of Ireland, Galway, Competence Centre for Biorefining and Bioenergy (IRL); National Non-Food Crops Centre (UK)