On the occasion of the publication of the recent report “2014 – 2020 Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking: A high-impact initiative for green recovery of Europe”, Christophe Luguel, Director Europe at IAR – The French Bioeconomy Cluster, has given us his views on the past, present and future of the Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI-JU) Public-Private Partnership (PPP).
In a nutshell, the BBI JU, operating under Horizon 2020, was set up as one of the pillars of the EU Bioeconomy strategy (2012). The PPP is composed of the European Commission on the Public side and of the Bio-based Industry Consortium (BIC) – a non-profit organisation set up in Brussels in 2013 – on the private side. The BBI JU is dedicated to transforming renewable, natural resources into bio-based products through a programme of research and innovation (R&I) activities. This public-private partnership aimed to invest € 3.7 billion in bio-based innovation between 2014 and 2020.
Why did IAR decided to take part in the BBI JU in the first place?
Since 2008, IAR has been strongly involved in the development of the European Bioeconomy through major roles in EU projects – e.g. Star-Colibri or Biorefinery Euroview – as well as in policy development.
At the heart of IAR’s mission is the deployment of bio-based industries and the reinforcement of the French industrial competitiveness through biobased innovation. When this priority was brought at European level, it was natural for IAR to get involved in the discussion and more specifically in the building of the BBI PPP as we are convinced that PPP are part of the solution to reduce risks related to ambitious investments such as the creation of demonstration and flagship plants in the Bioeconomy field.
Since the creation of BBI which IAR is a founding member, we are both involved in the Bio-based Industry Consortium (BIC) and the BBI with a specific role to increase SME’s participation in this tool.
What is IAR’s contribution in the BBI-JU funded projects?
At the heart of our contribution is the service to our members. IAR can be involved during the the very early stages of a project by initiating consortium and/or help with finding the right partners to ensure a buildup of integrated value chains. We are also able to contribute in shaping the proposition, recommending the right consulting firm for the setting up the proposition and we can perform a thorough expertise of the proposal before submission to maximise the odds for getting the grants.
Finally, we sometime choose to be a partner in the consortium. Our role is then focused on two main activities: Communication & Competitive Intelligence. We can lead communication around the project’s objectives and expected impacts alongside supporting the dissemination and uptake of the project’s results. We can also contribute to the exploitation strategy by handling techno-economic and market uptake assessments.
Currently, IAR is a partner in 4 BBI-JU financed Projects, all of them coordinated by French organisations: SSUCHY (Research and Innovation Action, Coordination : University of Bourgogne Franche-Comté); NENU2PHAR (Innovation Action – Demonstration, Coordination : CEA); FARMŸNG (Innovation Action – Flagship, Coordination : YNSECT); AFTER-BIOCHEM (Innovation Action – Flagship, Coordination : AFYREN). Altogether, the 4 projects count 26 partners in France – over a total of 59 – and represent a total grant amount of nearly €49 M which is associated with an in-kind contribution close to €23.3 M.
One of the biggest achievements for French start-ups in the frame of the BBI-JU are Afyren and Ÿnsect examples: They represent 2 of the currently 10 BBI-JU funded flagship projects, leading to build 2 cutting edge industrial facilities in the French territory. Additionally, both are respectively enrolled in the “French Tech 120 programme” and “The Next 40” by Mission French Tech and BPI France.
What are IAR expectations for the future of the European Bioeconomy?
The adoption of a new PPP for the European Bioeconomy would lead to strengthen its major role to tackle climate change. It will also greatly contribute to a sustainable growth, notably in the context of the European Green Deal and the current Next Generation EU recovery plan. Building on the achievements of the BBI-JU, the next PPP would bring the opportunity to continue the positive trend initiated by the 123 projects. Further work could greatly help to maximise the impact of current projects on sustainable growth and jobs creation in Europe, specially towards SMEs. To ensure a more circular approach, we might also be looking to include actors from the Farm2Fork strategy. Indeed, current “waste” from the the food sector could largely be considered as new feedstock streams for biorefineries. By closing the gap between food & biobased industries, we would surely contribute to a healthier planet.