SuperBIO aims at (i) creating open collaboration spaces for SMEs, LEs and other stakeholders in the bio-based economy, (ii) identifying new industrial value chain concepts maximizing the benefits of the EU business and citizens, (iii) constructing highly promising, disruptive and sustainable new industrial value chains by selection of synergistic groups of SMEs, LEs and other stakeholders and (iv) providing a diverse, stepwise and comprehensive innovation support program that enables to efficiently and optimally validate the new value chains and to bring them closer to the market, and (vi) facilitate access to extra support through funding projects or investment grants to leverage the efforts of SUPERBIO also after the project end.
Our approach and support program ensures the validation of sustainable and commercially viable value chains. The output of this project will lead to the implementation of new value chains, the production of drop-in chemicals and products or the production of new chemicals and products with improved features. It can lead to investments in dedicated industrial production sites for the new value chains eg. through ESIF funds and therefore be a leverage for re-industrialisation of the EU using innovative technologies.
Sectoral/industrial focus: Bio-economy (chemistry, agriculture)
The EU widely recognizes the importance of the bio-economy as key element for smart and green growth in Europe in order to cope with an increasing global population, depletion of resources, increasing environmental pressure and climate change (EU Strategy for innovating for sustainable growth: A bio-economy for Europe). The bio-economy is generally divided into the food/feed economy and the bio-based economy (renewable resources for industrial purposes). This project, SUPERBIO, focuses on the bio-based economy. This emerging economy relies on the use of biomass (e.g. plants, waste) as renewable raw material for the production of new or existing products. It is very cross-sectoral as links are made between at least 19 industrial sectors that could barely be linked with each other before. Currently, the bio-based economy is mostly known due to its contributions in the energy and bulk chemicals market. These include fuels (ethanol, biodiesel), electricity (e.g. burning of biomass) and heat (eg wood pellets), or plastics (eg PLA or starch-based). However, other lower volume markets connected with the bio-based economy include detergents, fragrances, enzymes, cosmetics, food/feed ingredients, non-bulk chemicals, pharma and are generally less developed. A sustainable EU bio-economy reconciles food security (food/feed economy) with the sustainable use of renewable resources for industrial purposes (bio-based economy). This principle leads to new challenges and hurdles to be tackled, but also new opportunities. The development of a sustainable bio-based economy provides a mechanism to add value to current agri-food value chains through converting crop residues and food processing by-products (2nd generation biomass) to valuable chemicals and materials. The new EU energy directive is an example of this as it states that 10% of transport fuel should be renewable. A circular bio-based economy, incorporating the principle of cascading use, provides an opportunity to build new end-of-life options into material supply chains allowing the conversion of waste into new chemicals and materials and turning waste into a useful and valuable resource. While the current fossil economy benefits from over a century of technical development the bio-based economy is only just starting to realise the potential offer from technology breakthroughs in the biological sciences. In 2014, Bio-Based Industries JU (PPP between EC and the Bio-based industries Consortium) agreed on allocating € 3.7 billion (€ 975 million from the EC) to the bio-based economy from 2014-2024 with an important focus on funding demo and flagship projects that require proof-of-concept, market research and business planning already at the proposal submission stage. They identified 5 general new value chains which will reindustrialize the EU, including integrated biorefineries, use of forest, agro and food residues and lignocellulose.
The technologies used are a combination of biochemistry, biotechnology, chemistry and processing technology. The most important key enabling technology (KET) triggering these new developments is Industrial Biotechnology. Driven by large cost reductions in DNA sequencing and gene synthesis new synthetic biology approaches promise to transform the capabilities of the biotechnology industry in the coming decades.
The consortium consists of 4 cluster organisations specialised in the bio-based economy from regions with synergetic smart specialisations, 3 highly skilled and experienced SME intermediates considered as important opinion makers in the bio-based economy and 3 cross-sectorial SMEs regarded as specialists in their respective activities. This unique mixture of cluster organisations supporting innovation and SMEs performing innovation support allowed us to design an optimized strategy to build new value chains based on general innovation principles combined with specific learnings in the bio-based economy arena. Ideas for new value chains will be sparked bottom-up (from SMEs) as well as top-down (from the consortium). A carefully designed communication plan will be activated to feed the collaboration space with specific consumer/end-user or societal demands. SMEs part of validated value chains can receive innovation services by 6 service providers of the consortium. These include technical support to improve processes and products according to the quality needs of the new value chain and to scale up their technology. Market evaluation and analysis, together with Life Cycle Assessment, techno-economic analysis, IP issues and sustainability/regulatory issues can help them to collect information for the business plan. Professional subsidy writing support can help them accessing public money. An industrial proof of concept and a professional business plan (aligned over the entire value chain) could be essential to get access to investors to support the SMEs.
Our approach and support program ensures the validation of at least 10 sustainable and commercially viable value chains. At least 30 SMEs will have received innovation services through our innovation program. The output of this project will lead to the implementation of new value chains, the production of drop-in chemicals and products or the production of new chemicals and products with improved features. It can lead to investments in dedicated industrial production sites for the new value chains eg. through ESIF funds and therefore be a leverage for re-industrialisation of the EU using innovative technologies.
Eventually, SuperBIO will be a demonstrator case to build value chains in the bio-based economy. A monitoring system will allow to monitor the effect of the project on the SMEs that received innovation support. It is the objective to propose best practices to build value chains in emerging industries. We will draft a report on the concept and approach of this project that will contain recommendations to the EC on the learnings. It will give advice on how new value chains can be constructed and how business support can be effectively channeled to SMEs