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The European strategy "Innovating for Sustainable Growth: A Bioeconomy for Europe (2012)" calls for a bioeconomy as a key element for smart and green growth in Europe. To make this happen the European Commission (EC) and the Biobased Industries Consortium (BIC) joined forces in the Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU).
Dirk Carrez

The aim is to keep investments in Europe and to deploy and create new markets for sustainable bio-based products. De-risking this emerging but fragmented industrial sector, together with supporting the high costs for demonstration and deployment activities, were key drivers for this public-private intervention.

Now that the mid-term review of the Bioeconomy Strategy is ongoing, what has the BBI JU realized? Since 2014, BBI JU has substantially contributed to building the European bio-based economy sector.
Well, after the first three years, already 65 projects – including 20 demos and 6 flagships are running with a total of 729 participants from 30 countries for a total grant of € 414 million public funding and € 2.15 billion of private contribution announced by beneficiaries. More than a third of current beneficiaries are SMEs. Furthermore, BIC’s annual survey shows that its members in general had 2 billion euro’s worth of investments in the European bio-economy in the pipeline end of 2014, and this increased to 4.7 billion beginning of 2017.

The expected outputs by 2020 (from projects launched so far) are well above expectations, e.g. 82 new or optimized bio-based value chains, 46 new bio-based chemical building blocks based on biomass from European origin, 106 new bio-based materials such as breakthrough chemicals, fuels, fertilizers, fibers, plastics, bioactive ingredients and proteins, and 47 new bio-based consumer products based on bio-based chemicals.
One of the strategic pillars of the BBI JU is to create and accelerate market uptake of bio-based products. Bio-based industries are increasingly engaging with brand owners in projects. This direct involvement is key to develop new applications for bio-based products that are appreciated by consumers.

These facts and figures describing the impact of the BBI JU after only 3 years of operating cannot be neglected during the mid-term evaluation of the EU Bioeconomy Strategy, and during the preparation of the next Framework Programme (FP9). Creating jobs and growth, and making the industry more sustainable are key for our society!