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Loudly encouraged by 700 attendees, Flemish Minister for Innovation Philippe Muyters, Ghent's Alderman for Innovation Christophe Peeters and CEO Wim Soetaert rode a cycling race to start up a new IMPACT investment at the Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant.
Editorial office Ghent

East Flemish Deputy Martine Verhoeve fired the starting gun and Agnes Lindemans of the European Commission assured fairplay during this festive cycling race. All five financing partners thus presented for the first time the new research infrastructure for gas fermentation and downstream processing that will make Flanders the worldwide testbed for these innovative and sustainable technologies.

No less than seven hundred participants gathered today at the Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant, a pilot facility for biobased products and processes, located in the Port of Ghent (Belgium). Thanks to a new investment of 9.36 million euros, the organization can offer new state-of-the-art infrastructure and equipment to companies that want to scale up biobased processes at an industrial scale.

Development of the bio-economy

There is a high need for such facilities. This is not a surprise, as the Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant helps industry to develop more environmentally friendly and efficient processes. It plays a key role in the further development of the bio-economy, a sustainable and circular knowledge economy that does not only offer an answer to climate change, but also stimulates economic growth and job creation.

The IMPACT investment provides new equipment for industrial biotechnology, specifically for gas fermentation and downstream processing. Gas fermentation is an innovative technology for converting waste gases such as CO2 and syngas into a wide range of chemicals using micro-organisms. It is a sustainable technology with great potential to stop global warming. A new process hall for downstream processing is also being built to host new equipment for purifying the end products after the biotechnological or chemical conversion step.

Major solutions

Prof. Wim Soetaert, CEO of the Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant: ‘Our society is facing enormous challenges in terms of sustainability and such major problems require major solutions. Thanks to this much-needed investment in new research infrastructure for industrial biotechnology, the Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant can sustain its growth and build a sustainable economy through innovation.’

Flemish Minister for Economy and Innovation Philippe Muyters: ‘The need for this new scale-up infrastructure was clear: companies are anxious to work with the Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant. Understandably, as this pilot plant lowers barriers for companies in two ways. They are a key factor for developing innovative processes at an industrial scale, helping companies to avoid risky investments. Even better is that they are also an ideal promoter of cooperation: companies, research centers and other partners meet in the pilot plant and are encouraged to think together about sustainable solutions for the biobased economy.’

Werner van der Stockt, ERDF Managing Authority: ‘From ERDF Flanders, we are pleased that we can invest through European support in the construction of this new research infrastructure, which will ensure the continued growth of both the Flemish biobased economy and the Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant itself.’

Christophe Peeters, Alderman for Innovation, City of Ghent: ‘The Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant is an important link in the biobased ecosystem of Ghent and is crucial for the further development of Ghent as a knowledge region and the expansion of our very strong cleantech and biotech cluster. The conversion of waste materials into raw materials and the closing of production loops are cornerstones for a sustainable innovation policy: in view of the importance of this pilot facility, the City of Ghent is happy to co-invest in its expansion.’

Martine Verhoeve, Deputy of the Province of East-Flanders: ‘From the very beginning in 2009, the provincial government strongly supported the construction of the pilot plant. We strongly believed in the potential of pilot infrastructure for the biobased economy. Today, it is fantastic to see how the pilot plant is supported by many partners and realizes unique collaborations. We have every reason to be proud of such a state-of-the-art research infrastructure in our region.’

The IMPACT investment is financed by the European Regional Development Fund (3.742.800 EUR), Flanders (1.248.224 EUR), the Province of East-Flanders (311.588 EUR), the City of Ghent (311.588 EUR) and the Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant (3.742.800 EUR).