EuropaBio – the European Union Association for Bioindustries – has published a new policy agenda for Europe, in which it urges legislators in Brussels and the European member states to establish a “coherent” EU policy agenda for industrial biotechnology and a Knowledge-Based Bio-Economy.

Creation of a KBBE will allow “biotechnology’s new, clean, energy-efficient processes and innovative bio-based products create a sustainable industrial base to ensure Europe’s future prosperity,” says the industry policy document, which also points to the need to: stimulate and support innovation in plant science and industrial biotechnology; promote production and use of bio-based products and processes; create awareness amongst all stakeholders; and improve investment in KBBE-related small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Lost in translation

Europe’s key strengths in the biotechnology sector are its excellent academic base in the biological sciences, some of the world’s leading enzyme companies, the world’s largest chemical industry infrastructure and knowledge base, and solid development and production of bio-specialities, says the industry group report. However, it adds that the region also has a lower overall R&D spend than major competitors, and it provides a less innovation-friendly environment. According to Jack Huttner, Chairman of Europabio’s Industrial Biotech Council: “Our problem is in translating the excellent science into commercial products. We must stimulate public-private partnerships to enable the development of flexible, research-oriented pilot plants to validate the concept of integrated and diversified bio-refineries.”

“If policy makers get it right, biotechnology can be the key which unlocks the door to a sustainable and competitive future for Europe,” added Mr Huttner. By Lynne Taylor