Bioeconomy-related ETPs meet with European Commission

On 28 February, nine European Technology Platforms (ETPs) operating within the bioeconomy and food value chain came together, on the invitation of the European Commission (EC), DG RTD – Directorate General for Research and Innovation. The main objective of the meeting was for the EC to gather input from the ETPs on common future research and innovation (R&I) needs in preparation for the upcoming EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation: FP9.

Barend Verachtert, Head of Unit Agri-Food Chain, welcomed the ETP representatives and took them through the current state of play of FP9. Mr Verachtert presented FP9 as a policy tool to implement key initiatives, such as the Bioeconomy Strategy, the Common Agricultural Policy, FOOD 2030, Blue Growth, and the Circular Economy Strategy. While the ambition of the Commission is to double the budget for FP9, compared to that of Horizon 2020, increasing the EU budget for research and innovation might be difficult considering the withdrawal of the UK from the EU. He also highlighted the role of ETPs, as representatives of broad stakeholder groups, in providing valuable expertise on the bioeconomy, primary production, processing, consumers, as well as further building of the circular economy. 

Johan Elvnert, Managing Director of FTP, presented the perspective of the forest-based sector and in particular the 10 Vision Targets of the FTP Vision 2030 and how they already represent examples of a mission-oriented approach targeting several of the UN Sustainable Development GoalsHe also presented examples of bottlenecks, as well as research activities with a significant added value for the EU and the future of the forest-based sector. 

The Commission encouraged the ETPs to discuss the information and premises needed under a mission-oriented approach. Both the Commission and the ETPs supported the proposal to organize regular meetings between each other. 

Some common patterns and trends were distinguishable among the presentations given by the ETPs. For instance, the need for better support of bioeconomy stakeholders’ development in the area of digitalization and the Internet of Things. During the day, the importance of better customer involvement in production chains, including side streams and waste streams, was emphasized. Together with this, attention was also given to the role R&I could play in finding solutions for a smooth, reliable and high-quality stream of information on production and production processes.