New EU project to support bio-based SMEs

A new programme aimed at supporting small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) in the EU to develop new bio-based technologies has been launched. The €6.2 million (£5.35m) ‘Bio Base NWE’ […]

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By Priyanka Shrestha

A new programme aimed at supporting small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) in the EU to develop new bio-based technologies has been launched.

The €6.2 million (£5.35m) ‘Bio Base NWE’ (North West Europe) project will run for three years and provide financial support, training and education to help tackle shortage of skilled professions in NWE’s industries. The project aims to develop a “bio-based economy” in the UK, Ireland, Belgium, Germany and Netherlands.

Bio Base Europe, a partner in Bio Base NWE, explains that a bio-based economy looks to promote a society that is far less dependent on fossil resources for our energy and material needs. It would see a bio-based industry using renewable resources such as biomass, starch and agricultural waste to produce biomaterials and bioenergy.

Dr. Lieve Hoflack, Manager of the Bio Base NWE project said: “SMEs have a vital role to play in Europe’s journey towards the bio-based economy, which could be worth more than €2 trillion (£1.7tn) to the European economy by 2020. Bio-based products are a growing area of interest for SMEs working in chemical industry, agro- industry, plastics, fuels, food, textile and pharma industry. However, many SME’s find it difficult to bridge the gap between newly developed research and the commercial market.”

As part of the project, selected SMEs will receive coupons worth up to €10,000 (£8,528) each for free of charge access to the facilities of an independent demonstration facility in Belgium.

The project was launched by the European Commission and also funded by the European Regional Development Fund.