SmartPilots, an INTERREG Europe project, has brought together the six leading European Shared Pilot Facilities for the KET Industrial Biotechnology and their regional authorities. Based on the thorough analysis of the different business models of the facilities involved, the consortium proposes the following policy recommendations to support Bioeconomy piloting
As Shared Pilot Facilities for the Key Enabling Technology ‘Industrial Biotechnology’ speed up sustainable innovation, they are a crucial element in dealing with societal challenges such as developing a sustainable, innovative and knowledge-based economy in Europe, creating jobs and meeting climate targets.
Shared Pilot Facilities are open access research and demonstration facilities investing in a broad spectrum of state-of-the-art equipment and offering required expertise with the aim to help innovative companies scale-up their successful research to an actual industrial innovation (= Technology Readiness Level – TRL increase). Collaboration, in an early stage of innovation, with open access shared pilot facilities maintaining a high level of innovation capability, substantially lowers the financial risk for the innovating company and speeds up the commercialization of their new product or process. The long lead time associated with commercialization of novel industrial biotechnology processes causes many companies to fail. Shared Pilot Facilities help companies to bridge this ‘valley of death’ by reducing time, cost and risk substantially when scaling up innovations from lab scale to industrial scale.
Furthermore, Europe recognizes too much R&D is deployed outside of Europe. Funds for support of the demonstration phase of promising innovations in the field of industrial biotechnology / bio-economy, are available, but companies find it difficult to access these funds. Shared Pilot Facilities can help companies to access these funds.
SmartPilots’ objective is to improve regional policies in support of Shared Pilot Facilities (SPF) to increase their impact on the Key Enabling technology (KET) Industrial Biotech and the bio-economy.
The bio-economy adresses societal challenges such as climate change, sustainable economic growth and energy independence. The bio-economy enables the sustainable production of chemicals, pharmaceutical products, materials, food, feed and energy from renewable raw materials.
Shared pilot facilities (SPF) are open access test sites that bring bio-economy innovations from the laboratory into industrial practice. They are open to all companies and research institutes, and can thus be seen as shared investments in innovation equipment. They have proven to be successful in helping innovators, especially SMEs, to bridge the so-called Valley of Death, i.e. the innovation phase between between laboratory and successful market introduction, that comes with a high technological and financial risk. Typically, initial funding from governments is available to build a Shared Pilot Facility, but it is a challenge to safeguard their long-term existence, especially since bio-economy is relatively new and dedicated policies are currently lacking in many regions.
SmartPilots aims to improve regional policies to provide support in a cost-effective and impact oriented manner. This will be done by:
- Optimizing direct support for shared pilot facilities
- Optimizing indirect support i.e. direct support for users of shared pilot facilities
- Facilitating interregional cooperation regarding Shared Pilot Facilities.
The Shared Pilot Facilities and regions involved are Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant and the Department of Economy, Science and Innovation from Flanders (Belgium), Centre for Process Innovation from Tees Valley (UK), VTT Technical Research Centre Ltd from Helsinki (Finland), Bioprocess Pilot Facility and Provincie Zuid Holland (the Netherlands), Innovhub SSI from Lombardy (Italy) and ARD (France) and Fraunhofer CBP (Germany) as Case Studies.
CoordinatorBio Base Europe Pilot Plant