“We believe that EFIB (European Forum for Industrial Biotechnology and Bio-based Economy, editor’s note), taking place during the first European Biotech Week, contributes to increase the awareness of Europeans to the bioeconomy.” To say it is Nathalie Moll, Secretary General of EuropaBio, The European Association for Bioindustries, one of the organizers, with Smithers Rapra, of the event which will be held in Brussels from 30 September to 2 October. In this interview with Il Bioeconomista, Moll talks about EFIB – “a single platform for European business leaders, innovators and policymakers to meet, discuss and shape the future of the bioeconomy” – and the latest development of European Bioeconomy, focusing on the Public Private Partnership for Biobased industries (Bridge), “a multisector initiative whose vision is that of a society and economy which increasingly makes everyday products, such as food, feed, textiles, chemicals and fuels, from locally sourced biomass and wastes, rather than from fossil fuels.”
Interview by Mario Bonaccorso
Mrs Moll, could you explain first how the idea to organize EFIB came to be and what its goals are?
EFIB (European Forum for Industrial Biotechnology and Bio-based economy) was launched in 2008 as a collaboration between Smithers Rapra (formerly IntertechPira) and EuropaBio. The objective of the event is to provide a single platform for European business leaders, innovators and policymakers to meet, discuss and shape the future of the bioeconomy.
What are the most important innovations of this edition compared to the previous ones?
As biobased industries continue to commercialise technology and bring new products to the market, we have included several exciting end new developments from Ecover, Audi, P&G and other major brands. We have also added updates on the latest international policy developments such as the future Public Private Partnership for biobased industries (also known as Bridge). The programme will also feature a dedicated innovation track which will premier over 20 new innovations handpicked by our advisory board from across the value chain.
Who participates to EFIB?
In 2013 we hope to attract over 1000 attendees. We have consistently attracted senior business leaders covering the entire value chain from the industrial biotech sector, the chemical industry as well as end-users. We have also always seen strong participation by policy makers from both the European Commission and national ministries. Our events also include participation of NGOs and other stakeholders as well as mainstream business press.
How has Italy participated in the previous editions of EFIB?
Italy has always been well represented at EFIB with several Italian and Italian based attendees from multinational companies including Praxair, Techitra and Bridgestone. Novamont Ceo Catia Bastioli is an active member of EFIB’s organizing committee and Michele Rubino, Coo of Beta Renewables, regularly attends EFIB events too.
What about participation by countries outside Europe?
EFIB 2012 attracted participants from 30 different countries with about 20% of the audience coming from outside Europe including North America, Asia and Latin America. On the agenda at EFIB 2013, there will be perspectives from Malaysia, China, USA and Latin America presented during the International Policy session, delivering a unique experience that will extend the focus of EFIB beyond developments just in Europe.
From your point of view, do you believe that the European public is aware of the role the bioeconomy plays in terms of securing economic eco-sustainable development in Europe?
Although biobased products and key enabling technologies, including industrial biotechnology, are two of the six key area identified by the European Commission to reindustrialise Europe and provide green growth and jobs to Europeans, there is often still a lack of awareness within the manufacturing industry, among policy makers, consumers and even investors of the benefits and potential of biobased industries. We believe that EFIB, taking place during the first European Biotech Week, contributes to increase the awareness of Europeans to the bioeconomy.
And what are the major industry advances in the bioeconomy?
Europe has equipped itself not only with a Bioeconomy Strategy with an associated action plan but also, most recently, with a firm proposal for a €3.8 billion Public Private Partnership for Biobased industries. This joint initiative from the European Commission and industry aims at ensuring smart, sustainable and inclusive economic growth, and at enabling Europe to become a world-leading Innovation Union. The Biobased Industries PPP also known as ‘Bridge’ – Biobased and Renewable Industries for Development and Growth in Europe – is a multisector initiative whose vision is that of a society and economy which increasingly makes everyday products, such as food, feed, textiles, chemicals and fuels, from locally sourced biomass and wastes, rather than from fossil fuels. The initiative will create jobs in a broad range of sectors in Europe, triggering rural growth across regions whilst placing sustainability and the smart and efficient use of resources at its heart. In doing so, it will also aim to overcome the EU’s so-called ‘innovation valley of death’ by bridging the gap between excellence in technology and success through EU commercialisation of biobased products.