More than 500 professionals celebrate 5 years Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant

Over 500 people have gathered today at the Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant to celebrate the 5th anniversary of this pilot facility for biobased processes and products. During the celebration, Minister Philippe Muyters, Flemish Minister for Work, Economy and Innovation has inaugurated two new 15.000 Liter bioreactors. These new bioreactors form a significant extension of the innovation and demonstration infrastructure of the Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant.
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Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant, located in the Port of Ghent (Belgium), is a leading pilot plant in Europe for the development of new biobased processes and products such as bioplastics, biodetergents, biosolvents, biochemical and biomaterials. Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant is specialised in the development and scale-up up of innovative laboratory processes into industrially viable processes. This typically forms a risky and expensive step in an innovation process and the Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant is there to cross this ‘Valley of death” for innovation projects. Through its equipment and expertise, the Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant helps companies to reduce the costs and risks associated with the scale-up phase, substantially shortening the development time for their innovation projects, and improving their chances of success on the market.
The construction of the pilot facility started in 2009 with the financial support of Flanders, The Netherlands and Europe. By now, the Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant has been operational since five years and employs over 40 people. In five years’ time, the Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant has developed into one of the leading pilot plants in Europe and it attracts many companies to help with their innovation projects. During those five years, one-to-one collaborations with 84 companies have resulted in new biobased products and process. A survey among 10 SME’s involved in such innovation projects indicates that these have led to about 400 new jobs and €34 million of new investments. Furthermore, the pilot facility is involved in 13 consortium based projects that are supported by companies and the European Commission. The Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant is a leading player in the Biobased Industries Consortium, a European Public Private initiative that aims to invest 3.8 billion € in the biobased economy over the next 6 years. In 2014, the Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant was selected by the European Commission as the leading pilot facility for industrial biotechnology as a Key Enabling Technology (KET).
Minister Muyters lauded the success of the Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant at the international level: “It is an exemplary case of Flemish innovation infrastructures that prove to be leading in Europe, resulting in faster innovation, more jobs and substantial investments in a sustainable economy.”

Prof. Wim Soetaert, CEO of the Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant explained how and why the Pilot Plant has developed in such a short time into a European frontrunner for the biobased economy: “New technologies such as industrial biotechnology develop at neck-breaking speed. Keeping up with such high momentum is absolutely key to make the difference. Slowing down means losing out and there is no way back. As our European industry is strongly challenged by developing countries, continued public and private investments in innovation and demonstration infrastructures are absolutely essential to safeguard the future of our European industry and society.”

During the celebration, presentations were held by companies such as Evonik and Arcelor-Mittal, highlighting their activities in the biobased economy. Representatives from the European Commission and the Biobased Industries Consortium gave insight on their high ambitions to develop the biobased economy in Europe. After the festive inauguration of the new bioreactors, the day was concluded with a networking reception and guided tours of the pilot facility.
The two 15.000 Liter bioreactors and peripheral equipment inaugurated by Minister Muyters today, were purchased and installed thanks to the financial support of Flanders, the European Regional Development Fund, Interreg IVB and the Province of East-Flanders.
For further information or to arrange an interview, contact: 

Katrien Molders, Communication Manager Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant, Katrien.Molders@bbeu.org, Tel: +32 (0)9 335 70 01, Mob: +32 (0)486 951 109

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