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Monday 22 February 2016

BBI and SPIRE work to increase coordination

The Public-Private-Partnerships (PPPs) ‘Sustainable Process Industry through Resource and Energy Efficiency’ (SPIRE) and ‘Bio-based-Industries Joint Undertaking’ (BBI) are both striving to improve the sustainability of European manufacturing industry in terms of global competitiveness, ecology, jobs and growth. On Monday 15 February participants at a joint workshop for the two PPPs explored ways in which the two entities could coordinate aspects of their work programmes and add value to European research and innovation outcomes in areas of common interest. The workshop was hosted by the European Commission at it Covent Garden offices in Place Rogier, Brussels, was organised under the SusChem banner and initiated and sponsored by Evonik Industries.

The two PPPs approach their common goals from complementary angles. SPIRE comprises projects that improve all aspects of resource and/or energy efficiency across a variety of manufacturing sectors, while BBI supports the establishment of a new bio-industrial structure in Europe, from the generation of biomass in the field or forest to its value-generating industrial conversion to biobased products.

When the two PPPs were being established in 2012 a joint narrative was developed which looked to establish coordination mechanisms between the two PPPs and to ensure that their respective activities were linked and harmonised whenever technically and economically reasonable. The workshop looked at how the ambitions of the joint narrative could be implemented in practice.

SusChem editor Tim Reynolds moderated the workshop that was entitled ‘Exploring the Synergies of SPIRE & BBI-JU’ and brought together stakeholders from both PPPs. The day was split into two sessions. In the morning the full group listened to perspectives from the European Commission, industry and the PPPs themselves. And in the afternoon two group discussions worked on possible actions and organisational issues.

Waldemar Kütt, Head of Unit for BioBased products and processing at the European Commission reminded the audience that both PPPs were industry led and driven and that both must provide important inputs to the development and implementation of the bioeconomy and circular economy.

Søren Bowadt, the Commission’s Programme Officer for SPIRE said that the Commission’s role was to support the PPPs’ decisions. He thought that the workshop was very timely and outlined a number of areas – such as waste water, industrial symbiosis, and the circular economy – where complimentary activities would be useful to both parties.

From industry Peter Nagler, Head of International Innovation at Evonik Industries AG and member of the SusChem Board, said that from the start SusChem had believed that the bioeconomy and biotechnology must play an important part in a future sustainable chemical industry. Both PPPs had launched a number of calls: it was now time to look at where complementarities could be leveraged and to identify any gaps that needed to be addressed in the short to medium term.

Christophe Rupp-Dahlem, Head of Global Public Affairs at Roquette, President of the Plant-based Chemistry Association and Vice-chair of the board of the Biobased Industries Consortium (BIC) representing the industrial partners behind BBI underlined the importance of cooperation and communication between the two PPPs and remarked that the BBI programme in 2016 will include a Coordination and Support Action (CSA) call for a Roadmap for relevant research and innovation activities for the Chemical Industry.

For SPIRE Executive Director of SPIRE’s industrial association, Loredana Ghinea, reminded the workshop that SPIRE worked with seven other large industry sectors as well as the chemical industry. She outlined a number of past calls that were of clear relevance to the bioeconomy and also announced that SPIRE was undertaking a gap analysis of past calls as part of the formulation process for future calls.  

Dirk Carrez, Executive Director of BIC reminded participants that BBI calls were open to all. He believed that the discussion should not be about competing technologies but about synergies between the two PPP programmes.

Fruitful discussion
Possible opportunities for early synergy was outlined by Nelo Emerencia of BIC who described upcoming 2016 BBI calls of potential interest to SPIRE participants, while Søren Bowadt similarly highlighted relevant SPIRE calls  for BBI stakeholders.

The two small discussion groups worked through the possibilities for the scope of a joint working group that could guide cooperation between the PPPs and also generated ideas and areas of common interest for future joint work through a brain storming session.

Key outcomes of the workshop discussion included:
  • A small joint working group (JWG) should be established quickly to prepare a platform for coordination. Members of the JWG would be drawn from BBI, SPIRE and SusChem. The platform would work under the auspices of SusChem and its role would be to connect content and programme coordinators to help development of programmes / calls that are complementary. It could also help in organising further brainstorming sessions and motivate stakeholders to participate.
  • Both PPPs have undertaken or are in the process of undertaking gap analyses of their current calls. Comparison of these analyses would be very useful in identifying areas of common interest and priorities for future content that could be taken up through the two PPPs' calls (attention should be paid to connecting TRLs and timings of deliverables).
  • It was important that existing communication channels worked effectively to ensure that information on the calls in from both PPPs were effectively disseminated to all the stakeholders in both PPPs – perhaps with topics of specific interest highlighted. 
  • In the short term, both PPPs will try to motivate their respective stakeholders to look for complementarity during project consortium formation.
The workshop concluded that enhanced cooperation between SPIRE and BBI should yield valuable synergies and that swift implementation of the JWG was important. Further discussions on areas of common interest would be undertaken at upcoming PPP events and a joint session could also be useful at the next SusChem stakeholder event on 16 June in 2016.

The discussion continued at a networking cocktail in the Sheraton Rogier Hotel.

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