During the last two decades major progress was made in terms of industrial applications of biotechnology. Relevant national and FP7 research programmes and projects in the Biotechnology area have significantly contributed to improve European economic and environmental protection. Innovation in biotechnology also provides opportunities to transform the global economy from an extensive dependence on fossil raw material to a sustainable “bio-economy”. However, economic indicators suggest a need for urgent action to maintain Europe’s global lead in biotechnology. In order to increase the competitiveness of EU industries, broader and deeper collaboration across relevant sectors and Member States is necessary. It will also be necessary to better use research advances in areas such as systems and synthetic biology for applications and demonstration in industrial biotechnology.
Proposals should gather a critical number of relevant programme managers and funders in the field, and implement a joint transnational call for proposals (resulting in grants to third parties) with EU co-funding, focusing on Technology Readiness Levels in the range of 3 to 6. They should build on the previous success of ERA-IB-2, ERASysAPP, ERASynBio under FP7, allowing for the seamless integration of the areas covered, together with the bioinformatics area and be complementary to related health initiatives. The ultimate aim is to speed-up research and innovation in industrial biotechnology, establishing systems biology and synthetic biology as technology drivers while focusing on downstream industrial applications. The significant involvement of industry in the activities developed up to the exploitation of results will be an important element to achieve this goal. Extensive communication activities should foster the European leadership role in advanced biotechnological research and innovation. The proposals will address Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH) elements, in particular for outreach activities and in terms of the public perception of biotechnologies for industrial uses. The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU between EUR 8 and 10 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
- Better align current EU and national biotechnology initiatives with the goals of the KET Biotechnology area under Horizon 2020, in particular by focusing on application-oriented research and demonstration activities and by developing a European Biotechnology hub, acting as a facilitator and multiplier in this regard.
- Improved use of synergies and coherence of current research funding activities in particular through the launch of calls for proposals and the use of existing research infrastructures (e.g. bioinformatics).
- Increase the financial commitment of participating countries and additional private sector resources compared to the three previous ERA-NET projects.
- Increase the visibility of the potential benefits of a bio-based economy for the society, in particular through dissemination and exploitation of results.
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