CPI joins European industrial biotechnology facilities

16 Sept 2016

CPI is joining five leading European shared pilot facilities specialising in the key enabling technologies of industrial biotechnology and bioeconomy to create SmartPilots, an INTERREG Europe project co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

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The aim of the project is to discuss and share best funding and operating practices and improve the policies which support shared pilot facilities. Increasing support for these facilities will substantially improve Europe’s innovation capacity and provide crucial support to dealing with societal challenges such as developing a sustainable, innovative and knowledge-based economy in Europe, creating jobs and meeting climate change reduction targets.

Europe is constantly looking for new, innovative ways of dealing with these societal challenges and industrial Biotechnology was selected by the European Commission as one of the key enabling technologies capable of playing a crucial role in realising this. A great deal of successful research has been carried out in this field over recent decades, but such research does not always translate into the market. The long lead time associated with commercialisation of novel industrial biotechnology processes causes many companies to fail.

This is where shared pilot facilities can play a transformative role. Shared pilot facilities are open access research and demonstration facilities which are equipped with a broad spectrum of state-of-the-art equipment and expert staff. The aim of these facilities is to help innovative companies scale-up their successful research from the laboratory to an industrial scale.

Steven Pearson, Head of Business Development at CPI, says: collaboration at an early stage of innovation and making use of open access shared pilot facilities substantially lowers financial risk for the innovating company, and speeds up the commercialisation of their new product or process.” For shared pilot facilities to be and remain effective and relevant, critical mass is required both in hardware and people.

Brecht Vanlerberghe, R&D Manager of shared pilot facility Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant, and coordinator of the SmartPilots project, commented: As shared pilot facilities get no risk premium for the continuous and large investment that they require to remain state-of-the-art, a full commercial business model is not viable. Therefore public investment in shared pilot facilities is indispensable and there is a need to develop a specific business model for such facilities.”

Study visits will be organised at each of the shared pilot facilities as well as three interregional seminars on direct and indirect support mechanisms and the possibilities for international collaboration. More information can be found at inter​regeu​rope​.eu.

Project partners are: Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant (Ghent, BE); Bio Process Facility (Delft, NL); Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) (Wilton, UK); VTT (Espoo, FI); Innovhub (Milano, IT); Department of Economy, Science and Innovation of Flanders (Brussels, BE) and Provincie Zuid-Holland (NL). Two case studies also joined the consortium: Agro-industrie Recherches et Développements (ARD, Pomacle, France); and Fraunhofer-Zentrum für Chemisch-Biotechnologische Prozesse (CBP, Leuna, Germany).

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