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Bioeconomy Ireland Week Map Series

Thursday, 22nd October - Investments in the bioeconomy

The bioeconomy is a young and growing sector and while technologies have been developed that can advance it, opportunities need to be scaled up beyond the lab to demonstration and pre-commercial level. In recognition of the potential of the bioeconomy, significant investments flow towards novel projects in Ireland but also more broadly within Europe funded by the European Union and industry. Many of these initiatives focus on developing infrastructure that will be of benefit into the future.

In this map we highlight Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI-JU) flagship projects and pilot demonstration projects across Europe.

Click on the title below to find the map

Biobased Industries Joint Undertaking (click to see map)

In this map we highlight Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI-JU) flagship pilot plants across Europe.

The Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU) is a €3.7 billion public-private partnership between the European Union and the Bio-based Industries Consortium (BIC) that supports the development of innovative and competitive bio-based industries in Europe. So far, the BBI JU has invested over €700 million in 123 projects, raising the contribution of project partners to a much higher amount. By 2024, each euro of BBI JU funding is expected to have attracted a private contribution of €2.8. BBI JU projects mobilise all relevant stakeholders – SMEs, large industries, clusters, primary producers, trade associations, academia, research centres, and end-users – to develop technologies and business models advancing Europe’s green economy. SMEs receive 35% of the total BBI JU funding.

Universities and research centres receive 30% of all BBI JU funding and represent 32% of all participations in projects. Project participants are evenly located across Europe – as example, the flagship biorefineries are set in Estonia, France, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania and Slovakia. Participants present a great variety of business models with high potential for replication. Moreover, despite being distributed all over the continent, they all share the same ability to mobilise local feedstock. The development of a sustainable and competitive bio-based sector in Europe will help fight climate change while having a positive socio-economic impact, as it will allow: Replacing 25% of oil-based chemicals by 2030; Drastically reducing EU’s dependency on the import of strategic raw materials, such as protein (by 50%), phosphorus and potassium (by 25%); Reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 50%; and Creating up to 700,000 green jobs by 2030 especially in rural and coastal areas.  

The two main positive impacts of BBI JU are the structuring effect in organising the value chains across sectors and the innovation-driven mobilising effect of key stakeholders resulting in innovative interconnected bio-based value chains (180 by 2024) and new cross-sectoral collaborations (200 by 2024). The BBI JU enables scientific advancements, as well as knowledge creation and sharing in the bio-based sector. All projects work to increase maturity levels in technologies, making the leap from lab-scale testing to industrial-scale biorefineries: the BBI JU research and innovation projects expect at least one technological advancement for 47 core technologies by 2024. The BBI JU is helping to bring innovations to the market by supporting the creation and boosting large-scale production of sustainable products and materials with an equal or overall better performance than their fossil-based counterparts including: Over 180 new bio-based materials expected by 2024; Over 80 new bio-based chemical building blocks expected by 2024; and More than 100 new bio-based products expected by 2024. The BBI JU also has contributed to developing a sustainable bio-based industry sector in Europe, providing environmental and socio-economic benefits for European citizens: 82% of ongoing projects have resulted in the creation of new skilled jobs. In particular, 62% of projects create jobs in rural and coastal areas. 70% of these jobs are in product development and engineering; 80% of projects have created knowledge and come up with scientific breakthroughs. 41% have produced new patents and IP rights, and 11% created spin-offs and start-ups; 84% of ongoing projects will deliver bio-based products that will lower greenhouse gas emissions by replacing fossil-based alternatives. 

All feedstock used in BBI JU projects must be sustainably sourced in Europe and must not compete with food production: 91% of BBI JU projects using agricultural feedstock only use waste and by-products, and 7% use dedicated crops grown in marginal lands not suitable for agriculture; 96% of projects using forest-based feedstock use wood residues, cellulose and pulp, and paper industry side streams. Only 4% cut wood, exclusively from sustainably managed forests; and 100% of aquatic feedstock used in BBI JU projects are algae and by-products of fish and seafood, which helps make the fishing industry more circular (Reference: BBI JU: a high-impact initiative for green recovery of Europe June 2020). The BBI JU funding programme will be superseded in 2021 by the Circular Biobased Europe partnership under the EU Horizon Europe Research & Innovation Framework Programme. It aims to develop and expand the sustainable sourcing and conversion of biomass into bio-based products focusing on multi-scale biorefinery processing and applying circular economy approaches such as utilisation of biological waste from agriculture, industry and municipal sectors. It also aims to deploy bio-based innovation at regional scale with the view to revival of rural and marginal regions. See Draft partnership proposal (June 2020). The Circular Biobased Europe partnership will also be supported by the European Circular Bioeconomy Fund. The European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Commission and ECBF Management GmbH announced on the 1st October 2020 the first closing of €82 million of the European Circular Bioeconomy Fund (ECBF), the first equity fund exclusively focused on the bioeconomy and the circular bioeconomy in the EU and Horizon 2020 Associated Countries.


  • Patrick Barrett
    Bioeconomy, Agriculture Knowledge & Innovation Systems
    Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM)
  • Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking,
    White Atrium
    Av de la Toison d’Or 56-60
    B - 1060 Brussels
  • Dr Jesko Zimmermann
    Department of Agrifood Business and Spatial Analysis
    Teagasc Ashtown Research Centre