A major conference was hosted by the EU in Brussels 9-10 November with the title ‘A Bioeconomy for Europe: using resources from land and sea for a post-petroleum economy’. More than 400 delegates discussed for two days how the bioeconomy could be further developed in Europe. During the opening session, the Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, Carlos Moedas, and the Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan, made welcoming presentations, where the slogan ‘from niche to normal’ was introduced. Their message was clear on Europe's need to forcefully develop knowledge and innovations to manage sustainable utilization of all biomass within a circular bioeconomy creating jobs and value for society. The rural areas have a pivotal role and industries have to take adapt.
Throughout the conference it was clear that resources from the sea were given high priority, and during the first day a plenary session had the title ‘Looking ahead: the Marine and the Bioeconomy’. It was introduced with a business case presentation by Jean-Paul Cadoret, Managing Director of GreenSea, a company producing marine ingredients from microalgae or macroalgae. He also participated in the following panel discussion together with Helena Vieira, member of the ERA-MBT International Advisory Group, and three other panellists.
ERA-MBT had an exhibition space in the hall immediately outside the plenary conference auditorium. The stand had been designed and prepared by Fien De Raedemaecker, and during the conference Steinar Bergseth and Torger Børresen were present at the stand, discussing with visitors and distributing material. The stand received a lot of attention and was an excellent opportunity to explain what marine biotechnology is all about and what ERA-MBT does to stimulate research and innovation to contribute to the development of the bioeconomy in Europe.
The second day included parallel sessions, where one session was scheduled to present EU supported projects within the marine area. Seven projects were presented, among them ERA-MBT as the only ERA NET. The session was chaired by Sigi Gruber, Head of the Marine Office of DG RTD. The coordinator, Steinar Bergseth presented ERA-MBT and participated in the following discussion panel.
During the final plenary session the financing of the bioeconomy was discussed with representatives from the European Investment Bank and industrial and private investors. It was said that financing in itself may be an issue, but even more important it is to know what the access to market is, and then access to resources, and to biomass. This is needed for creating sufficient credibility to investors.
For further information on the conference, including pictures and live stream recordings, please look up here.