Chemistry Innovation to lead EU industrial biotech programme

Global bio products market will treble over next 10 years…

Chemistry Innovation has been appointed to co-ordinate a Europe-wide programme -
BIOCHEM - to support companies entering the rapidly emerging market for bio-based products. Chemistry Innovation will lead a Euro 4.5m programme to co-ordinate the activities of 17 innovation organisations across seven countries.

Over a three-year timeline, their mission is to develop a technical and business support toolbox to help at least 250 companies innovate in the bio-based products market.

There are several strong drivers for this project, particularly climate change - with a global target for an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 - and energy security. Bio-based non-food products typically come from plants, trees and bio waste with typical end products in the bio-plastics, bio-lubricants, bio-surfactant, enzyme and pharmaceutical sectors.

The EU currently accounts for about 30% of the global $77bn. bio-based products market – which is expected to more than treble by 2020.

BIOCHEM is an innovation programme funded by the EU’s European Commission and supported by SusChem - the European technology platform for sustainable chemistry – to drive competitiveness within Europe’s chemical industry. Part of SusChem’s remit is to promote strategic innovations and support innovation-led SMEs.

Improving innovation capacity:

Specific aims of BIOCHEM are to stimulate demand-driven, bio-based business in the chemical sector; to improve the innovation capacity of bio-based chemistry start-ups and SMEs and to complete a comprehensive assessment of the bio-based products market.

“Sustainable technology that can drive business success for new generations of companies is central to our purpose”, commented Chemistry Innovation CEO Carol Boyer-Spooner. “To win this additional responsibility to lead a Europe-wide project in an exciting area of innovation is pleasing recognition of our wider capabilities and the Knowledge Transfer Network model”.

Using the partner network, BIOCHEM will develop a “toolbox” of methodologies and
processes in a business support service package that will include innovation management, life cycle methodology, business planning and access to funding.

Through an “accelerator” process it will assist SMEs to understand their potential to enter the bio-based market and to identify their barriers to innovation. Process examples include identification of technology providers and sources of funding, providing access to test facilities and beyond – to market introduction.

“For small and medium sized companies especially, BIOCHEM is designed to facilitate successful entry to a broad global market with strong potential demand and societal interest”, says Steve Fletcher, Chemistry Innovation’s Director of Delivery Programmes.

“Recognising Europe’s innovation potential, the project is specifically designed to build activity and lower the barriers to innovation, to make facilities available and to
communicate the potential of this exciting market”.

Partner organisations and countries:

Emphasis in Chemistry Innovation’s BIOCHEM work programme out to 2013 will include working closely with CEFIC (the European Chemical Industry Council, which hosts SusChem) and other key European players on overall project co-ordination. Additionally, it will identify 50 UK companies to support through BIOCHEM; work with UK partners on tools modules and processes and engage with the 14 mainland Europe-based partner organisations to determine and recommend generic approaches.

The BIOCHEM consortium partners include innovation agencies, venture and public funding bodies and programme consultancies.

The seven countries taking part are the UK, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Italy, The
Netherlands and Spain. Alongside Chemistry Innovation, the two other UK partners in BIOCHEM are the University of Manchester and the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI).

A full description of the BIOCHEM Project (full title: BIOCHEM – Eco-IP Partnership for Driving Innovation in the Sector of Bio-base Products) is on the INNOVA website, at: www.europe-innova.eu/projects.