To speed up the biobased economy, EU partners joined forces by providing financial, technological, training, networking and political support to SMEs
Innovation support was given to SME’s within the Interreg North West Europe Region. A network of international experts gave support to SMEs on non-technological barriers (finance, finding partners, policy, pitching, market analysis, etc.). Training and education tools were developed and provided.

SMEs were offered technological support by Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant through innovation vouchers up to 30.000 EURO. Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant is an open access independent, state-of-the-art pilot and demo infrastructure that helps innovators to bring their process or technology from a laboratory level to an industrial relevant context. This allows the innovator to establish the data required to assess the techno economics of the technology, to perform life cycle analysis. Prototypes are produced to test and validate the innovation in the market. Sufficient products can be produced to enable first market introduction.

The project supported the increased commercialisation of innovation to make North-West Europe a leading player in the emerging bio-economy. This was possible with the cooperation of partners within the interreg North West Europe from Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

Resources needed

Interreg NWE program (involved member states Belgium, Germany, Ireland, United Kingdom, Netherlands)
Region: North-West Europe
EU funds: €3,074,587 – 50% of the total amount
Coordination: Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant
Category: Smart Specialisation for SME Innov

Evidence of success

- over 755 SMEs benefited from networking opportunities and technological solutions
- 17 SMEs signing contracts or negotiating partnerships with investors
- 4 bio-based products were commercialised
- 16 companies have firm plans to build pilot lines or new production lines, with a total investment of €71 million
- creation of at least 43 jobs, with an estimated 275 more to come in the next few years

Project received the Regiostars 2017 award within category Smart Specialisation for SME innovation.

Difficulties encountered

Despite administrative burden was kept to a minimum, the vouchers budget was increased from 10 000 EURO to 30 000 EURO because for many SMEs the administration burden was still perceived to be too high to do the effort.
Very pro-active promotion and communication is required to be successful.

Potential for learning or transfer

(1) SMEs and Start-ups typically do lack expertise on the different aspects which need to be addressed when entering the market. A network of international experts proved to be very successful to overcome these barriers and challenges.
(2) The international network also proved to be very successful in supporting SMEs to find partners in Europe to complement their value chain.
(3) Vouchers scheme for technological support helped SMEs to establish the dataset and prototypes required to convince investors and/or partners to take the innovation to a next level. Working with an open access pilot and demo infrastructure proved to be faster, cheaper, better and increased the chances that the innovation makes it to the market.
(4) Continuity of such voucher schemes is important, ideally structural measure which is continuously open.
(5) It is important such voucher is substantial and procedure is low treshold and fast.

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Main institution
Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant
Prov. Oost-Vlaanderen, Belgium (Belgique-België)
Start Date
January 2013
End Date
December 2015


Brecht Vanlerberghe Please login to contact the author.

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