Promoting bio-innovation in Europe via co-funded innovation support services

Posted in: biobased

26/07/2017
For over 13 years NNFCC has been guiding organisations through the bioeconomy through market insight and value chain development.

The success of the bioeconomy lies in the ability to innovate, to turn sustainable renewable raw materials into added value products using low carbon processes. As someone once said, ‘it’s not easy being green’ and neither is successful innovation. To realise Europe’s bioeconomy vision we need to support innovation and particularly provide mechanisms that allow entrepreneurial SME’s to investigate new processes, products, markets and business models; creating investable business propositions.

For over 13 years NNFCC has been guiding organisations through the bioeconomy and supporting companies through market insight and value chain development. We also understand the value of collaboration and the need to work with the experts offering specialist knowledge and competence.

We are currently working on two European innovation support schemes, SuperBIO and BioBase4SME. Bound by a vision of a flourishing European bioeconomy, we have joined with a network of professional companies who have come together to offer their business expertise to SMEs at cost rates, through projects co-funded by the European Commission.

One year into these schemes, we are delighted to have attracted a significant t number of successful applications from SMEs based in the UK. Indeed over 50% of successful applications to the SuperBIO scheme originate from the UK.

We are keen to sustain the number of UK applications; so how do the schemes deliver value to SMEs? And which questions can be answered through the innovation support services offered by the SuperBIO and BioBase4SME? Below is a snapshot of the work done so far on four value chains championed by four UK-based SMEs in the sector of IB and AD.

Firstly, a company developing a mixed sugar stream from a waste stream produced by the dissolving pulp industry was able to contract a co-funded market research under the BioBase4SME innovation support scheme. A three-month piece of work was carried out to identify product developers who possess or will possess the technology to produce bio-based molecules from C5/mixed sugars within two years. The work included an independent review of the markets linked to the list of molecules identified by the company (application, price, potential volumes) as well as a description of the technology landscape of bio-based chemicals currently accessible, including developers close to commercial realisation.

Another SME developing an additive for anaerobic digestion (AD) for the treatment of non-food feedstocks used the SuperBIO innovation scheme to 

verify whether financial incentives would still apply to AD plants using its additive. ‚ÄčAs part of this one-month piece of work, the EU Renewable Energy Directive (RED) and recasts post-2020 were reviewed. This included the FIT/RHI in the UK or the Erneuerbare-Energien-Gesetz legislation in Germany, where the UK-based SME aims to first commercialise its additive. The company has also benefited from an IP audit following which, it filed a patent with the UK patent attorneys Gill Jennings & Every, a partner on the SuperBIO project. 

A third company focusing on the valorisation of pot ale in Scotland has successfully applied for a business-case evaluation. The objective of the work is to provide the company with an appraisal of its business model to commercialise the technology it has developed. The SME aims to use pot ale for the production of ethanol and short chain fatty acids. To do so, the current landscape of pot ale generation, treatment and disposal will be reviewed against the assumptions made by the Scottish SME regarding the economics of current treatment options for pot ale.

This project brings us to one of the latest UK application to have been validated on the BioBase4SME scheme. A Scottish company successfully applied to the scheme to carry-out scale-up work on their improved butanol production process. Together with the Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant in Ghent, the SME will trial its bacterial strain with a more cost-efficient feedstock combination at a scale of 5,000 litres.

All the work highlighted above was done through the innovation support services offered via the SuperBIO and BioBase4SME project. Through those two programs, SMEs in Europe can access pre-funded projects of up to:

  • € 100,000 (with a co-funding share of max. 50% from the SME) via BioBase4SME and
  • € 60,000 (with a co-funding share of max. 25% from the SME) via SuperBIO.

The value of the innovation voucher is to be spent on innovation support services (i.e. market research, LCA, policy analysis, scale-up, business plan development) which are delivered by specific consortium members across Europe. The application form is a couple of pages long in each case. We aim for a turnaround of a month for BioBase4SME and three months for SuperBIO.

Get in touch with Lucy F R Montgomery (l.montgomery@nnfcc.co.uk) or Lucie A Pfaltzgraff (l.pfaltzgraff@nnfcc.co.uk) to discuss your technology’s eligibility for either or both schemes.

For more information:

About SuperBIO

SuperBIO supports the development of promising industrial value chains in the biobased economy and supports SMEs by providing 10 different professional innovation services 75% funded by SuperBIO. The SuperBIO consortium includes four industrial cluster organisations (from Belgium, France, Spain and Poland), and six service providers (from the UK, Germany and Belgium).

About BioBase4SME

The BioBase4SME network, representing leading bio-based economy experts, support SMEs and start-ups across North-West Europe on how to develop new ideas into marketable products. The BioBase4SME expert network organises workshops on specific topics, diverse training events and an innovation bio-camp. Furthermore, SMEs and start-ups can apply for bio-innovation coupons with a value up to €100.000 when looking for technical (process development, scale-up…) and non-technical support (LCA, application testing, market research, business plan coaching, social acceptance…).