Philippe Mengal, Executive Director of CBE JU ‐ Circular Bio‐based Europe Joint Undertaking, sets priorities for a strategic research and innovation agenda for competitive bio-industries in Europe

Becoming the world’s first climate-neutral continent by 2050 is a unique opportunity to modernize the EU economy and society and redirect them towards a fair and sustainable future through bio-based industries in Europe. Research and innovation will play a central role in accelerating and driving this transition; deploy, demonstrate and de-risk durable solutions; and engage citizens in social innovation.

Within the EU’s long-term budget, the framework program for research and innovation, Horizon Europe, is set to play a very important role in supporting the EU’s sustainable growth. A key tool in the implementation of this ambitious research agenda is that of European partnerships, which have successfully proven their ability to contribute significantly to the achievement of EU political priorities.

The Circular Bio-based Europe Joint Undertaking (CBE JU) is one of these European partnerships, which brings together private (Bio-based Industries Consortium – BIC) and public (European Union, represented by the European Commission – EC) partners. in pursuit of advancing competitive circular bio-industries in Europe. By producing renewable bio-based products and materials from waste and biomass in an innovative, sustainable and circular way, these industries can contribute significantly to the goal of climate neutrality by 2050 while creating jobs and economic growth in the regions of Europe.

This €2 billion public-private partnership will build on the success of its predecessor, the joint venture Bio-based Industries (BBI JU) – which demonstrated the added value of a competitive circular bioeconomy in Europe and contributed to reducing the fragmentation of the sector.

Established on November 30, 2021, the new partnership will fund projects that support the shift from non-renewable fossil resources to sustainably sourced waste and biomass to produce industrial and consumer goods in a more sustainable and circular way.

Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA)

A key aspect of European partnerships is the definition of the strategic research and innovation priorities needed to achieve their overall objectives. As with any public-private partnership, aligning ‘public’ and ‘private’ interests, objectives and commitments is essential to ensure the realization of different perspectives.

The founding partners of CBE JU, EC and BIC, have drafted a Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA) in collaboration with the CBE JU program office and in consultation with the advisory bodies of the partnership. The document describes the targeted impact of the partnership, the planned portfolio of activities and the measurable expected results. It is adopted by the Management Board of the CBE Joint Undertaking. This is an important novelty to highlight, as CBE JU’s SRIA now becomes a legally binding strategic priority document for the new partnership.

EPC JU priorities in the future

The SRIA will operationalize the objectives of CBE JU as agreed by the partners, who see the partnership as a platform for the coordination of a wide range of activities by all stakeholders of European bio-industries.

The agreed strategic priorities will deliver tangible and increasingly ambitious environmental, social and economic benefits by 2031. These strategic priorities include ensuring the availability and quality of sustainable bio-based raw materials; development of innovative production systems in the bio-based industry and innovative bio-based products; as well as the stimulation of research activities in countries and regions whose R&I capacity for biosystems is underdeveloped.

“Becoming the world’s first climate-neutral continent by 2050 is a unique opportunity to modernize the EU economy and society and redirect them towards a fair and sustainable future. Research and innovation will play a central role in accelerating and driving this transition; deploy, demonstrate and de-risk durable solutions; and engage citizens in social innovation.

In addition, it will also aim to scale up the production and market uptake of innovative bio-based solutions; improve the investment risk profile of bio-based projects; as well as the definition of effective and robust criteria of environmental sustainability and circularity for biosystems; and facilitate the social acceptance of bio-based applications.

CBE JU will implement these strategic priorities through calls for competitive project proposals. The partnership will fund projects focused on research and innovation, as well as coordination and support. Among them, Flagships will deploy the first innovation of its kind on the European market.

Transparent checks and balances

The Scientific Committee and the group of representatives of States (SRG) are the two advisory bodies of the CBE Joint Undertaking whose role is to provide advice on the strategic priorities to be addressed in the annual work programs of the CBE Joint Undertaking in line with the SRIA and Horizon Europe strategic planning. The advisory bodies will help highlight the scientific achievements of the program, suggest corrective measures for the implementation of the program if necessary and provide independent scientific and strategic advice on specific issues at the request of the Governing Board.

The Scientific Committee plays a key role in ensuring that the CBE JU program is successfully implemented and confirms that the main strategic and programming documents include all relevant scientific and multidisciplinary considerations, integrate promising disruptive technologies and contribute to positive impacts. positive social effects, while guaranteeing sustainable development. and effective management of renewable natural resources.

The members of the Scientific Committee and the States Representatives Group also act as ambassadors for the CBE JU, helping to increase the visibility of the program and reach out to key players in the bioeconomy across and beyond the EU. .

Since their creation, the EC CBE Scientific Committee, composed of 15 members, 47% of whom are women, and the State Representatives Group, composed of 31 members and 29 alternates from 27 countries, have already played an active role in providing feedback on the SRIA project and its strategic priorities, as well as the work program implementing the SRIA, before the opening of the partnership’s first call for project proposals.

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