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A new initiative to support the development of the European bio-based economy: European Biomass Research Network

The European Biomass Research Network (EUBREN) has been developed and supported by the European Biomass Industry Association (EUBIA). EUBREN consists of a selection of universities and research centres in all 28 European member states. The initiative is the result of EUBIA’s efforts to promote and support a new industry oriented initiative, commercial projects based on innovative and advanced technologies, as well as international strategies for creating an efficient exploitation of biomass potentials. Since 1996 EUBIA has worked in cooperation with its members, mainly consisting of investors, small and medium enterprises and large industries. However, given the unique capacity, the flexibility and the market perspectives of bio-based this sector, research activities carried out at all levels, demonstrated the need to have a network for the bio-based economy at a commercial stage in the EU.

The European Commission funding initiatives illustrate how institutions are pushing to foster new projects and initiatives where industries merge their efforts with research centres and universities to allow investment potentials, market influence and political interests with high value research activities. On the basis of this consideration, EUBIA decided to create a network of universities and research centres with valuable experience in different biomass sectors.

EUBREN aims, initiatives and opportunities

Too often research activity carried out by public institutes such as universities and research centres remains out of the commercial interest. At the same time, it is not easy for private companies, investors and enterprises to be updated on the latest results obtained during research studies, and to identify potential promising new projects. EUBREN will actively work on new ‘Research-for-industry’ projects which will focus on the development of advanced technologies and strategies of actual interest for industry. Projects will accelerate the improvement of bio-based products and bioenergy competitiveness in the European market.

But this well-known issue is not the only existing obstacle. The lack of communication between research centres doesn’t facilitate the development of valuable technologies or cooperation initiatives. For this reason, some of the crucial EUBREN activities will be to organise technology platforms and training workshops involving universities specializing in different sectors to present their activities and ideas for future initiatives. Workshops and meeting – organized by EUBIA – will be held in Brussels and will allow EUBREN members to communicate, share knowledge, results and opinions. With this new platform of communication, new projects could be developed and new valuable technologies could penetrate the market. Industries and enterprises will be informed on the proceedings, opinions and programmes developed and discussed by EUBREN members.

Another objective for EUBREN is to involve industries working with university experts and researchers. EUBIA members will be invited to assist and participate in technology platforms and provide their contribution. The strict cooperation will bring benefits to both of the participants – such as new projects and support for universities, high quality technical consultancy, manpower for industries and enterprises.

Benefits for universities and Research Centres:

1. Participate as partners in new EU co-financed projects

2. Placement opportunities for university students in EU biomass industries

3. Participate in new large scale international and commercial projects

4. To be constantly updated on EU policy framework

5. Cooperate in new programmes, initiatives and strategies developed by the European Biomass Industry Association

6. Cooperate together with other European universities.

Many universities have already applied to be selected as member of the network and EUBIA is working on preparations ahead of the expected launch date in October. Interested universities are welcome from all European countries. Keep up to date with more information about EUBREN.

Words by Andrea Salimbeni,
EUBIA, Belgium