The Knowledge Based Bio-Economy towards 2020 conference that took place in Brussels on 13 and 14 September saw biotechnology experts and policy-makers discuss real-world solutions to a variety of societal challenges. And SusChem representation was well to the fore.
Opening the presentations European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Máire Geoghegan-Quinn (below) said: "The Belgian Presidency and the Commission are in complete agreement about the need for a more coherent approach to the bio-economy in the EU, and this conference is an important step. The bio-economy has the potential to address many of the things Europeans care most about: food security, reducing the environmental impact of agriculture and industry, providing healthy food at affordable cost, supporting coastal and rural development, reducing and recycling of bio-waste."
The European Commission will publish by the end of 2011 a more coherent approach to biotechnology research, Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn told the conference.
The communication will “[outline] a European strategy to develop a sustainable knowledge-based Bio-Economy, integrated into overall European policy, and linked to the Common Agriculture and Fisheries Policies, and our Industrial and Environmental policies,” she said.
The communication will also propose an agenda for delivering the strategy, detailing the specific steps needed at European, national and regional levels to achieve its goals.
“Today, Europe has a strong life sciences and biotechnology research base to support the development of a sustainable and smart Bio-Economy. It has a leading position in chemical and enzyme industries and a fast growing biotechnologies sector. However, a lot of work still needs to be done in order to fully exploit the potential of the sector today and ensure that Europe remains competitive tomorrow,” she commented.
EuropaBio policy guide
To coincide with the KBBE 2020 conference SusChem partner EuropaBio has published a policy guide ‘Building a Bio-based Economy for Europe in 2020’. The guide describes what a bio-based economy would look like and the driving forces behind such a move, before outlining the key priorities and actions needed to make it happen.
“Europe is at the forefront of industrial biotechnology and the bio-based economy,” commented Ian Hudson, Chair of EuropaBio’s Industrial Biotech Council, “But we need the right policies and focus to develop and implement a clear strategy. Now is the time for our regulators and decision makers to make some bold regulatory moves. We must focus on developing and applying an integrated and holistic approach towards our competitiveness and sustainability to make sure Europe has the world’s leading bio-based economy for 2020.”
Belgian Minister for Science and Innovation Ingrid Lieten stated that European regions and member states such as Flanders are taking action to implement the bio-economy in a public private partnership with stakeholders. The chemical industry in Flanders has launched a strategy for greening industrial processes and production via the newly created SusChem Flanders technology platform.
The Minister also highlighted the € 21 million euro INTERREG project Bio Base Europe. On the first day of the conference delegates were able to visit a number of industrial biotechnology sites in the Ghent region including the pilot plant facility of this SusChem associated project. Conference delegates are pictured outside the Bio Base plant building below.
SusChem board member Wim Soetaert co-chaired one of the Thursday conference sessions on innovative bio-based products at KBBE 2020 and is a leading figure in the Bio Base Europe project. His conference session looked at the role of bio-based products in greening industry by the replacement of conventional fossil fuel based raw materials with bio-based alternatives.
For more information on KBBE 2020 organised by the Belgian Presidency of the EU, including more images and presentations from the various sessions, please visit the conference website.