Industrial biotechnology: Research for Europe.

Sustainable Chemistry Technology Platform

The European Union is at a crucial stage of development. It is committed to becoming a globallycompetitive knowledge-based economy, while also moving towards a more sustainable model for industry. In addition, it has recently undergone a period of major enlargement – from 15 to 25 Member States – and significant reforms are in the air, including for the Common Agricultural Policy. Against this backdrop of challenge and change, Industrial Biotechnology is set to play an important part in the future success of the European economy and society.

In 2004, the European Technology Platform for Sustainable Chemistry (SusChem) was set up, with Industrial (or White) Biotechnology as one of the three pillars. All stakeholders – industry, academia, interest groups and Member States – have jointly developed a Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) for Sustainable Chemistry. This SRA will be followed by a more detailed Action Plan.

The SusChem section on Industrial Biotechnology, coordinated by EuropaBio and ESAB (EFB section on Applied Biocatalysis), with European Commission funding, is proposing the stakeholders’ strategy for Industrial Biotechnology to be a cornerstone of the knowledge-based bio-economy. The overall goal of Industrial Biotechnology is to develop new bio-based technologies to convert renewable raw materials into chemicals, materials and bio-energy.

This document, a summary of the Industrial Biotechnology section input to the SusChem SRA, looks into the future impact of Industrial Biotechnology and lays out the major research areas which must be addressed to move from a flourishing set of scientific disciplines to a major contributor to a successful future knowledge-based economy. It focuses in particular on the research needed to underpin three broad topics: biomass, bio-processes and bio-products, including bio-energy.