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Responding to Climate Change 2011

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Big Base Europe logoMinister Ceysens and mister Kortleve inaugurate trans-border cooperation

Bio Base Europe develops the region into the bio-based economy gateway in Europe

Gent, 7 May 2009 – Minister Patricia Ceysens, Minister of Economy, Enterprise, Science, Innovation and Foreign Trade of Flanders, Belgium, and Acting Managing Director Cees Kortleve of the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs gave the official starting shot for Bio Base Europe on Monday 27 April. This Flemish-Dutch collaborative project will transform the Gent-Terneuzen Canal Zone into the most important centre for the bio-based economy in Europe. By applying technological innovation and training, this initiative will speed up the transition to a sustainable, bio-based economy.

Bio Base Europe is a joint initiative of Biopark Terneuzen and Ghent Bio-Energy Valley. Both organisations have been working for some time for the expansion of a bio-based economy in the Flanders-Netherlands border region. Contrary to what is frequently assumed, the bio-based economy includes much more than a few bio-fuels. It also includes the development of bio-dyes, bio-plastics, bio-chemicals and bio-detergents.

Open innovation model

Bio Base Europe has two components: a pilot plant for bio-based products and processes (the Pilot Plant) and a training center for process operators of bio-based activities (Training Center).

Scientists will use the testing installation to determine how agricultural by-products, such as wheat straw, corncobs, wood chips, Jatropha oil, and algal oil can be converted to bio-fuels, bio-plastics and other bio-based products. Special attention will be given to scaling up processes to an industrial scale.

The pilot plant will be housed in the former fire station on the Rodenhuizekaai in the Port of Gent.

The pilot plant will cost some 13 million euros and will go on-line in early 2010. It will yield 35 new jobs. Prof. Wim Soetaert, who is in charge of the Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant, said, “The Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant will operate on the open innovation model and will focus on companies throughout Europe in a number of sectors, including chemicals, bio-tech and energy. We will be creating new opportunities for our industry, which, in this current economic crisis, is hungering for future-directed initiatives.”

This initiative is also a welcome development for the industry federations. Frans Dieryck of Essenscia Vlaanderen, the chemistry and life sciences federation, and Nelo Emerencia of the Association of the Dutch Chemicals Industry (VNCI) explain: “The Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant will enable companies, both large and small, in the chemicals and bio-tech industry to explore the innovative potential of bio-based products. Bio Base Europe is critical step forward towards a bio-based economy. It is essential for Flemish and Dutch industry to continue to play a role here at Europe's top level.”

More qualified workers

The training center, representing an investment of 8 million euros, will be built in Terneuzen. Peter van den Kieboom, head of the Bio Base Europe Training Center: “The idea is to turn out skilled operators and technical maintenance specialists for the bio-based economy. Like every other industrial sector, the bio-based economy is struggling to make up a short-fall of qualified technical personnel. And there is a glaring lack of technical personnel specialised in bio-processes. We will be filling in this gap ourselves through this training centre. And beyond that, the Training Center will take on a networking and information role for the bio-based economy”. The center will be operational in 2011.

“With Bio Base Europe the Gent-Terneuzen Canal Region is clearly taking the lead in the development of the bio-based economy in Europe. By having both the pilot plant and the training center, we now hold all the cards that we need to develop a green economy”, concluded Marten Wiersma and Sas Van Rouveroij, chairmen of Bio Base Europe.

Website: www.biobaseeurope.eu

 
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