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16 Apr 2013 10:04:01

New €6.2 million project to help European SMEs drive growth in the bio-based economy

The European Commission has launched a new three-year project Bio Base NWE to support the development of the bio-based economy in North West Europe (NWE).

The €6.2 million (£5.35 million) project will work mainly with small and medium businesses (SMEs) to help facilitate innovation and business development in bio-based technologies.

Bio Base NWE will also provide training and education to help tackle the shortage of skilled professionals in North West Europe's bio-based industries. The Bio Base NWE partnership includes organisations from five different countries.

Dr. Lieve Hoflack, manager of the Bio Base NWE project, said: "SMEs have a vital role to play in Europe's journey towards the bio-based economy, which could be worth more than €2 trillion to the European economy by 2020."

"Bio-based products are a growing area of interest for SMEs working in chemical industry, agro-industry, plastics, fuels, food, textile and pharma industry. However, many SMEs find it difficult to bridge the gap between newly developed research and the commercial market," she adds.

The Bio Base NWE network, representing many leading bio-based economy experts, will advise SMEs from across North West Europe on how to develop new ideas into marketable products.

SMEs can get financial support to demonstrate innovative bio-based technologies at an independent, state-of–the-art demonstration facility in Ghent, Belgium.

This flexible pilot plant will selectively invest in equipment for promising technologies to promote further growth. The partnership will also develop and deliver programmes and tools for training skilled professionals for bio-based industries. North West Europe is in an excellent position to take a leading role in the emerging bio-based economy. The region is home to a number of prominent research institutes in this field and has a leading chemical industry, including a strong representation of SMEs which can provide a springboard for future development.

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