Europe’s bioeconomy to get open access innovation infrastructure map

A collaborative project to map open access pilot and demonstration infrastructure for bio-based industries across Europe has been launched.

The Pilots4U project is funded by the Bio Based Industries Joint Undertaking under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. Launched when the eight project partners came together in Ghent, Belgium, to discuss future action, it aims to help companies and research institutions operating in the bioeconomy gain easier access to testing facilities to bring their ideas from development to market.

“Pilots4U aims to help SMEs, start-ups, and also large enterprises and research institutes to easily find an open access pilot facility that can bring their innovation to industrial scale,” said Lieve Hoflack, project coordinator.

“Pilot facilities play a vital role in bringing innovations to the market and open access facilities substantially lower the risk associated with taking this step mainly for SMEs and start-ups. We expect Pilots4U to result in the empowerment of SMEs to commercialize their innovation themselves thus generation local jobs in Europe.”

According to a statement from Pilots4U, the European Commission sees the development of a thriving bioeconomy as central to achieving a resource-efficient and sustainable economy, as well as a way for responding to increasing populations, depleting natural resources and climate change.

Developing innovations into marketable products requires access to state-of-the-art testing facilities. This is vital for scaling up laboratory processes to an industrial scale. Pilots4U argues that one of the main barriers to development of Europe’s bioeconomy is that many companies and R&D organisations are either unaware of the range of industrial pilot and demonstration plants available in Europe, or do not realise they have access to these facilities. For this reason, it aims to map all existing open access bioeconomy pilot and multipurpose demonstration facilities, including data on available equipment and personnel competences. Ultimately, the project aims to create one easily accessible database for all actors operation in the European bioeconomy.

Additionally, Pilots4U will survey potential users of open access facilities to understand their equipment and expertise needs. By comparing what is available with what is required, it hopes to clarify the areas of innovation infrastructure in need of investment.

“By improving the overview and thereby, access to pilot and demonstration facilities, Pilots4U will promote innovation in the sector by assisting industry and R&D organisations in getting their innovations closer to market,” a statement from Pilots4U explains.


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