Launch of the European Bioeconomy Observatory Pilot website
What progress has been made in implementing the European Bioeconomy Strategy?Adopted by the European Commission in 2012, the European Bioeconomy Strategy aims to pave the way to a more innovative, resource-efficient and competitive economy that reconciles food security with the sustainable use of renewable biological resources for industrial and energy purposes. The strategy is built on three pillars: investments in research, innovation and skills; reinforced policy interaction and stakeholder engagement; and the enhancement of markets and competitiveness in bioeconomy.
- Research, innovation and skills: Over €4 billion is available to support bioeconomy-related research and innovation under Horizon 2020 – over twice the budget available under the previous 7th Framework Programme. The results of the first call for proposals under Societal Challenge 2 of Horizon 2020 — “Food security, sustainable agriculture, marine and maritime research, and the bioeconomy” – will be published in November. It included opportunities to apply for funding for research and innovation on sustainable food security, on blue growth (unlocking the potential of seas and oceans), and on creating an innovative, sustainable and inclusive bioeconomy.
- Policy interaction and stakeholder engagement: In early 2013 the European Commission initiated a three-year project to set up the Bioeconomy Observatory in order to regularly assess the progress and impact of the bioeconomy. On the 8th October, a pilot version of the Bioeconomy Observatory website, including a first set of data on the bioeconomy, has been launched. The website, designed and managed by the Commission’s in-house science service, the Joint Research Centre, will be further built up over time providing policy-makers and stakeholders with reference data and analyses for policy development and investments in the bioeconomy. The Commission has also established the European Bioeconomy Panel to support interactions among different policy areas, sectors and stakeholders in the bioeconomy. The Panel was created with 30 members representing business and producers, policy-makers, the scientific community and civil society.
- Markets and competitiveness: The Bio-based Industries Joint Technology Initiative is a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) between the EU and the Bio-based Industries Consortium (BIC). A total of €3.7 billion will be invested in bio-based innovations over 2014 – 2020. The EU contribution (Horizon 2020) will be €975 million, while the Bio-based Industries Consortium will contribute €2,730 million (of which €1,755 million will be dedicated to additional activities such as Flagship projects). As an emerging industry, it will be important to use this PPP to leverage capital markets and additional private and public funds (e.g. synergies with EU Structural Funds) to top up existing public and private commitments. It is dedicated to realising the European bioeconomy potential, turning biological residues and wastes into greener everyday products through innovative technologies and biorefineries. It should result in at least 10 new bio-based value chains, and 5 advanced biorefineries. The first call for proposals of the Bio-based Industries Joint Technology Initiative was published in July 2014, with a closing date of 15 October.
How is the bioeconomy good for Europe?
- Innovative bio-based and food industries are vital for the re-industrialisation of Europe and the food and drink industry is already the single largest manufacturing sector in the EU. Research and innovation can be leveraged to create a new, resource-efficient industrial paradigm based on industrial symbiosis and collaboration across traditional industries – often transcending traditional distinctions between services and manufacturing.
- The bioeconomy is also an important source of new jobs – especially at local and regional level, and in rural and coastal areas. It has been estimated that bio-based chemical production could represent 30% of all European chemical production by 2030, up from just 2% in 2005, providing 90,000 new jobs. Based on a coastline 7 times longer than that of the US, the EU’s maritime economy could provide 1.6 million new jobs by 2020.
- Bio-energy and marine energy will be an integral part of Europe’s future energy security. Replacement of fossil raw materials with renewable biological resources is an indispensable component of a forward-looking climate change policy.
- Climate change, extreme weather, the growing world population, reduced access to critical nutrients such as phosphates – these are just some of the factors that could significantly increase the risk of a major disruption of food supply. The challenges of food security are global, and the EU has an important role to play in addressing them. [shortend]