Germany kicks off EUR2.4bn bioeconomy research programme
Berlin – Germany has launched a research programme aimed at establishing a bio-based economy by 2030. "Our goal is to support the shift in industrial production from oil-based towards bio-based CO2-neutral, sustainable, and competitive processes for generating energy, chemical products and sufficient quantities of high-quality foods and feed" said research state secretary Thomas Rachel in Berlin. According to the 'National BioEconomy Strategy 2030', which kicks-off with a EUR100m fund for Industrial Biotech next year, EUR1.1bn will be invested to boost biomass production while establishing sustainable agricultural methods. EUR792m are earmarked to improve industrial biomass conversion technologies and biorefineries, and EUR504m will be used to push bio-based methods for energy production.
While state secretary Rachel underlined that the research programme is not aimed at favouring certain technologies but intends to find the best way of tackling global challenges such as world hunger or climate change, Holger Zinke (Brain AG), a member of the government's BioEconomy Council said that industrial biotechnology will be the engine of the biobased economy. "In 2007, biotechnological methods were used in 7% of the processes in the chemical industry, today it is 10%. This means the share of biotech methods in the chemical industry doubles every 8 years." According to Zinke, the shift towards bio-based production is happening already and companies such as BASF, Süd-Chemie and Evonik have already increased their R&D spend. Biotech organisations such as DIB and BIO Deutschland, and the head of the Bioeconomy Council, Prof. Reinhard Hüttl welcomed the programme and its priorities. "The main challenge is now to pool the know-how from very different industry sectors and research fields to find the best solutions", said Hüttl, whose 19 experts had presented recommendations for the bioeconomy programme in September. The experts are expected to provide a more detailed list of funding priorities in the different research fields by April 2011. Rachel said the Bioeconomy research agenda is the first of its kind worldwide. EU representatives said in Berlin, the European Commission will present a bioeconomy research agenda within 1 year and aims to implement the topic with 2bn funding in FP8.