Bridging that Gap Between Research and Market
Demonstration activities for the bio-based economy are needed.
Europe is well positioned to spearhead the development of a bio-based economy but must invest in demonstration activities to gain a competitive edge, says new study
Amsterdam, 20 October 2011
Today, EuropaBio and nine of its partners launch a “Biorefinery Feasibility Study” at the European Forum for Industrial Biotechnology and the Biobased Economy (EFIB), in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Conducted by Dalberg Global Development Advisors, the study provides a blueprint for establishing integrated, demonstration scale biorefineries in the EU and recommends co-investments from public and private stakeholders to overcome the gap from research to market.
Introducing the study, Nathalie Moll, Secretary General of EuropaBio said: “The results present a vision, value chains and required capital investments, funding options, governance and implementation paths for demonstration biorefineries in the EU. These facilities are essential if we are to translate the full potential of our excellence in industrial biotech into smart, sustainable, marketable biobased products and processes. Increasingly, we see EU technology providers and users choosing to build their demonstration plants and to commercialise their products in Brazil, China, India or the US, instead of in Europe. This ultimately means that the lion’s share of the benefits of European Research are enjoyed elsewhere with the products then sold back to the EU at a premium. This trend must cease if Europe is serious about becoming a true Innovation Union.”
The study provides a fact base on options and funding needs for demonstration biorefineries. It focuses on biotechnological conversion of agricultural residue, hard wood and energy crops into chemicals, materials and energy .
According to Dalberg, diverse private sector interests mean competing sub-consortia of private and public stakeholders are likely to be most effective, there is a clear interest in establishing a dedicated platform on biorefineries and creating Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) on biorefineries and accessing funding through Horizon 2020 will be crucial to future success.
Other findings include recommendations on the preferred location for biorefineries linked to synergies in co-location and feedstock availability. They also outline the need to focus on products with the highest added value, like fuels and chemicals above heat and power, and to focus on funding for first-of-their-kind production plants and accessing funding to reduce risks to investors.
Lars Hansen, Chair of EuropaBio’s Industrial Biotech Council concluded: “De-risking investment in demonstration biorefineries through PPPs is an important part of solving this puzzle. However, two other elements are critical: a reliable, consistent supply of competitively priced feedstock through supportive agricultural policy, and a favourable regulatory framework to form the foundations of a robust and dynamic bio-based economy. In Europe, we have all the technological ingredients to lead in this field and to benefit from positive impacts on the environment, reduced fossil fuel dependency as well as sustainable economic growth and job creation. Funding and political backing will make it happen.”
The Biorefinery Feasibility Study is available here.