EuropaBio provided input to the European Commission’s interim evaluation of Horizon Europe. The EU should continue to develop the various pillars of Horizon Europe to make full use of its scientific and industrial excellence and to help foster a stronger and more resilient research and innovation ecosystem for biotechnology across Europe.
Industrial biotechnology is an important enabling technology for a more competitive, sustainable, and circular European bioeconomy. As such, it is important that the European R&I Framework Programme including the upcoming Strategic Plan of Horizon Europe (2025 – 2027) continues to focus on and fund activities that are relevant for this sector and the bioeconomy more widely. Advances in industrial biotechnology, and wider adoption and use of biotechnology, can contribute to Europe’s green ambitions, energy security, competitiveness, and resilience in the face of global geopolitical instability and large-scale disruptions, as well as maintain Europe’s position in the world as a technological leader. Similarly, investments made through the different pillars and structures of Horizon Europe into infrastructure for scale-up, skills development, and the development of regulatory and standards frameworks for industrial biotechnology innovation are critical.
The bioeconomy is cross-sectoral in nature and therefore presents opportunities for synergies between different R&I clusters. By seeking new ways of production, powered by sustainable resource management, innovation in industrial biotechnology supports the development of economic and industrial activities which respect planetary boundaries. This contributes towards bringing the EU closer to its goal of developing a circular bioeconomy. In this context, it is therefore relevant to consider the role and potential of the bioeconomy and bio-based innovations (mainly grouped under Cluster 6 in Horizon Europe) and how these overlap with activities in other areas such as climate, industry, and health (which are grouped under separate Clusters).
On the identification of funding priorities more broadly, areas, where successful R&I funding could contribute to solutions to energy security, manufacturing capacity and supply chain resilience, should be prioritized. Research and innovation in biotechnology have the potential to bring creative, unique and important solutions to make European societies healthier, more sustainable, and tackle many other systemic and global challenges we face in the 21st century.