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First CBE JU grant agreements provide €116 million for circular bio-based sector

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Following its first call for proposals, the Circular Bio-based Europe Joint Undertaking (CBE JU) has recently signed its first 21 grant agreements. A total of 293 beneficiaries from 27 countries across the EU and beyond will receive a total of €116 million in funding for the development of new bio-based products and materials, first-of-their-kind production facilities and innovative processes. 

The new projects will boost the competitiveness and increase the resilience of Europe’s bio-based economy by making use of the often-underutilised resources to produce consumer products and industrial solutions to replace fossil-based ones. This will reduce the EU’s reliance on strategic imports and create new value chains, business opportunities and green jobs, particularly in rural areas. Furthermore, the projects will support the achievement of the CBE JU Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA) goals. 

After the conclusion of the grant agreement preparation, the CBE JU interim Executive Director Nicoló Giacomuzzi-Moore said: 'These are the first grant agreements signed under the auspices of the CBE JU. They represent an important step in the life of the new joint undertaking. I am confident that these agreements will build on the success of the ongoing and completed projects and will make a vital contribution to advancing the bio-based sector in Europe and driving forward the transition to a sustainable, resource-efficient and circular bio-based economy. I am also very pleased that, with these agreements, we are able to strengthen some areas such as the production of bio-based alternative food and feed ingredients, flame-retardant materials, smart food packaging and alternative bio-based platform chemicals.’ 

I am confident that these agreements will build on the success of the ongoing and completed projects and will make a vital contribution to advancing the bio-based sector in Europe and driving forward the transition to a sustainable, resource-efficient and circular bio-based economy.

CBE JU Executive Director ad interim, Nicoló Giacomuzzi-Moore

Ground-breaking production at various scales 

The projects are split into four types of actions, which encompass activities tasks ranging from the establishment of ground-breaking production facilities to the development of coordination and support systems. 

  • Two Flagship Innovation Actions will receive €28 million to build first-of-their-kind industrial-scale facilities. 

  • Eight Innovation Actions will obtain €41 million to establish demonstration-scale production systems and business models. 

  • Ten Research and Innovation Actions will receive €44 million to develop new materials, products and ingredients from renewable and biological resources. 

  • One Coordination and Support Action has been granted €2.9 million to develop digital monitoring tools to assess the environmental and social impact of bio-based industrial systems. 

See the full list of funded projects.

Two new biorefineries for high-value products 

The two flagship projects will set up innovative biorefineries and production plants to support the development of the European bio-based economy, with a focus on the food and feed sectors. 

  • SUSTAINEXT will turn an existing production plant into a circular biorefinery that will produce healthy plant-based extracts for food, food supplements, animal feed, fertiliser, cosmetics and chemicals. The biorefinery will create jobs in Extremadura, a rural region of Spain. 

  • SYLPLANT will build a facility that will produce 10,000 tonnes a year of a protein-rich food and feed ingredient which combines feedstock such as agricultural or forestry residues with yeast. The project will develop several innovative, nutritious and sustainable food, pet food and aquaculture feed prototypes containing the ingredient. 

Advancing green solutions for many sectors 

CBE JU funding will also make possible the development of products and applications for a range of other sectors, including transport, construction, packaging and textiles. Among the resources that will be used, there are agricultural residues, paper production side-streams and municipal solid waste, terrestrial and aquatic plants, and wood residues. Actions range from the cultivation of biomass on marginal land for the production of bio-based fibres and soil revitalisation to the capture of CO2 emissions from wastewater treatment plants and their transformation into high-performance plastics. 

Some examples of projects include: 

  • ROBOCOOP-EU and BRILIAN, with €4.7 million and €4.8 million respectively, will tap into agricultural waste streams to develop new cooperative regional business models. This will offer new commercial opportunities in rural areas, leading to job creation and a more diverse bio-based product portfolio. 

  • SynoProtein has been granted €5 million to formulate a sustainable process that will convert residue from sawmills into single-cell proteins for fish feed and produce biochar for animal feed while capturing CO2. 

  • REDYSIGN will use €4.4 million of CBE JU funding to create wood-based fresh meat packaging containing sensors to prevent the premature food spoilage, along with an efficient process for recycling the packaging. 

  • THERMOFIRE has been awarded approximately €4.5 million to produce bio-based, flame-retardant materials for the automotive, aerospace and textile sectors using feedstocks such as cellulose and flax. The materials will be lighter and less expensive than their fossil-based counterparts while maintaining the performance levels required in demanding conditions. 

See the full list of funded projects.

A new €215.5 million call is now open for project proposals across 18 topics. The deadline for the submission of proposals is 20 September 2023.