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Industrial biotech: Is Europe ready to harness its potential?

19 March @ 2:30 pm 4:45 pm CET

A Science | Business closed-door roundtable, organised in partnership with EuropaBio followed by networking reception

Only By Invitation

Background Information

In recent years industrial biotechnology – also known as “white” biotech – has emerged as a high-value driver of industrial modernisation and the green transition. Through the innovative use of microorganisms and enzymes, it has transformative potential for manufacturing, waste use and the creation of sustainable products in sectors as varied as energy, textiles, plastics, paper, agriculture and water. While some core processes, such as fermentation technology, have been commercially deployed for around 50 years, the speed of scientific progress and solution development are accelerating exponentially. As such, it appears that the sector as a whole is truly poised to make the leap from “proof of concept” to mainstream application at the European level.

These take on greater importance when one considers other strategic priorities for the EU. First, it is clear that for Europe to achieve e.g. its 2030 benchmark for net-zero technology manufacturing in the Green Deal Industrial Plan (GDIP), it will need to leverage its full innovation capacity across sectors. Second, as global demand grows for sustainable solutions to climate, energy, biodiversity and food system crises, Europe is ideally positioned to take market leadership in various domains, given its research excellence and strong industrial base. And third, the EU’s proposed Strategic Technologies for Europe Platform (STEP) has already identified biotechnologies among its key value chains to ensure future resilience, autonomy and competitiveness, while biotechnology has also been recognised as a critical technology for Europe.

Yet a degree of skepticism remains – both in public and policy circles – about the risk/reward ratio of biotechnologies and their wider value to society. One useful counterpoint is to consider the evolution of health-related biotechnology (often called “red” biotech). Having overcome similar resistance and concerns, “red” biotech is now deployed at scale throughout the life science and pharmaceutical sectors, and is acknowledged today as a key component in European health innovation. So how can the lessons learned on that journey be absorbed and applied to other sectors?

As the EU prepares for its transition to a new Parliament and Commission, it is therefore an ideal moment to open a multistakeholder dialogue on how policy and regulatory innovations could increase the European added value of “white” biotech and biomanufacturing in the years to come. This also builds on Ursula von der Leyen’s announcement of a new biotech and biomanufacturing initiative in last September’s state-of-the-union address. Among some of the key issues for consideration:

Where can industrial biotech and biomanufacturing contribute most effectively to the GDIP and STEP, and what are the longer-term implications for boosting the global competitiveness of European companies?
What should underpin a future EU roadmap for advancing “white” biotech and biomanufacturing across sectors, in line with other long-term strategies and objectives?
Which other steps are needed at EU and national level to build future capacity, such as infrastructure and skills?
In which ways can public and private finance best support pioneering “white” biotech firms – large and small – in scaling up and maturing their solutions to market-readiness and mass production levels, as has happened in the health sector?
Beyond the CBE Joint Undertaking, to what extent could Horizon Europe, FP10 and other key instruments – such as the new biotech & biomanufacturing initiative – strengthen Europe’s industrial biotech R&D ecosystem in the next policy cycle?
On March 19, Science|Business, in cooperation with EuropaBio, will convene a select group of senior figures and experts from across the industrial biotech spectrum to address these issues in a closed-door, invitation-only roundtable. Drawing in part on latest research and real-world applications, the meeting will identify recommendations to harness the full potential of “white” biotech and biomanufacturing, and to align its further development with the realisation of key EU policy goals.

For more information, please contact: denitsa.nikolova@sciencebusiness.ne

Science | Business

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