Joint Research Centre - European Commission

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Man's hands holding young plant

The European Commission launched a new bioeconomy strategy one year ago.© Eduardo Schäfer (stock.xchng)

JRC to coordinate the new EU's bioeconomy observatory


The bioeconomy is currently estimated to be worth €2 trillion and to account for 22 million jobs in the European Union. It has the potential to add one full time equivalent job for every €35 000 invested in research and innovation by 2020. The bioeconomy observatory, launched today by European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, will gather data to follow the evolution of markets and to map EU, national and regional bioeconomy policies, research and innovation capacities and the scale of related public and private investments. Through the coordination of this observatory, the JRC will help map progress and measure the impact of the European Commission's bioeconomy strategy.

Announcing the new observatory at a bioeconomy conference in Dublin, organised by the Irish Presidency of the European Union, Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn said: "It's now one year since we launched our bioeconomy strategy. We are now seeing Member States seize the opportunity offered by the transition to a post-petroleum economy based on smart use of resources from land and sea. It's essential that they do because it will be good for our environment, our food and energy security, and for Europe's competitiveness in the future. This observatory will help keep the momentum going."

The observatory, which is a three year project, will start in March 2013 with the aim of making the data it will collect publicly available through a dedicated web portal in 2014. In this way, the observatory will support the regional and national bioeconomy strategies now being developed by EU Member States.

As well as providing data on the size of the bioeconomy and its constituent sectors the observatory should track a number of performance measures, including economic and employment indicators, innovation indicators, and measures of productivity, social wellbeing and environmental quality. It will also provide a "technology watch” and “policy watch”, to follow the development of science and technology as well of policies related to the bioeconomy.

The JRC is well positioned to coordinate the new observatory, in particular through its activities on life cycle assessment, which pave the way to greener products and services from the extraction of natural resources to recycling or waste disposal. The International Reference Life Cycle Data System (ILCD) Handbook, developed by the JRC and launched in March 2010 in the frame of the European Commission's Integrated Product Policy, provides comprehensive and detailed technical guidance that is needed to conduct a Life Cycle Assessment.

The EU Bioeconomy Strategy, adopted on 13 February 2012, is one of the operational proposals under the Innovation Union and Resource–efficient Europe flagships of the Europe 2020 strategy. Public funding for research and innovation in the bioeconomy is also included in Horizon 2020.