Study: Under 5% of FP7 bio-economy projects commercialised

An analysis by the Horizon 2020 ProBIO project has found that under 5% of bio-economy projects funded under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) have been introduced to market.

ProBIO has screened more than 400 projects funded by FP7’s Knowledge-Based Bioeconomy (KBBE) programme and found that whilst projects have supported the generation of new knowledge, few are close to being ready to cause widespread socio-economic impact through commercialisation.

Udo Sievers, from i.con innovation, a partner of the ProBIO project, said: “The ultimate aim of European research funding is to support economic growth and answer societal challenges, but this can only be achieved through the commercial application of research results.

“The low level of exploitable results is a result of how programmes are currently oriented, and the next European Framework Programme needs to be more forward-looking and better include commercialisation if we want to see these impacts.”

The debate, which was hosted by MEP Lieve Wierinck, Shadow Rapporteur on the European Parliament’s mid-term assessment of Horizon 2020, gathered 60 representatives from the policy  making, research and industry communities to present ProBIO results and discuss how to increase impact from publicly funded research.

The common assumption was that while the EU has excellent research, it is not turned into market success because Europe lacks entrepreneurial capacity and there is a ‘knowhow gap’ concerning the needs of commercial exploitation.

However, ProBIO also discovered that there are more complex, structural barriers behind the low commercial performance of European research programmes. These have taken a technology-push approach, thus ignoring market conditions, have not included enough commercially active partners, and have not provided full innovation process support.