Horizon 2020
The EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation

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Graphic explaining bioeconomy
Bioeconomy is Europe's response to key environmental challenges the world is facing already today. It is meant to reduce the dependence on natural resources, transform manu¬facturing, promote sustainable production of renewable resources from land, fisheries and aquaculture and their conversion into food, feed, fibre, bio-based products and bio-energy, while growing new jobs and industries.

Over the coming decades, the world will witness increased competition for limited and finite natural resources. A 70 % increase of the world food supply is estimated to be required to feed the 9 billion global population by 2050.

Agriculture accounts for about 10 % of Union greenhouse gases emissions, and while declining in Europe, global emissions from agriculture alone are still projected to increase up to 20 % by 2030.

A growing global population will need a safe and secure food supply. And climate change will have an impact on primary production systems, such as agriculture, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture.

A transition is needed towards an optimal use of renewable biological resources. We must move towards sustainable primary production and processing systems that can produce more food, fiber and other bio-based products with fewer inputs, less environmental impact and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. 

A clever use of resources

To maintain its competitiveness, Europe will need to ensure sufficient supplies of raw materials, energy and industrial products under conditions of decreasing fossil carbon resources - oil and liquid gas production is expected to decrease by about 60 % by 2050.

Bio-waste (estimated at up to 138 million tons per year in the Union, of which up to 40 % is land-filled) has high potential added value as a feedstock for other productive processes.
Biological resources and ecosystems could be used in a more sustainable, efficient and integrated manner.

Food waste represents another serious concern. An estimated 30 % of all food produced in developed countries is discarded. Major changes are needed to reduce this amount by 50 % in the Union by 2030.

The response to the challenges ahead

Bioeconomy includes primary production - such as agriculture, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture - and industries using / processing biological resources, such as the food and pulp and paper industries and parts of the chemical, biotechnological and energy industries.

Managed in a sustainable manner, bioeconomy can also:

  • sustain a wide range of public goods, including biodiversity and ecosystem services,
  • reduce the environmental footprint of primary production and the supply chain as a whole
  • increase competitiveness,
  • enhance Europe's self-reliance, and
  • provide jobs and business opportunities.

In brief, bioeconomy can contribute to build a more competitive, innovative and prosperous Europe.

Investments in research and innovation will enable Europe to take leadership in the concerned markets and will play a role in achieving the goals of the Europe 2020 strategy and its Innovation Union and Resource Efficient Europe flagship initiatives.

Bioeconomy in Horizon 2020

Under Horizon 2020, the EU identified seven priority challenges where targeted investment in research and innovation can have a real impact.

One of these is Societal Challenge 2 that addresses a wide range of key EU policy priorities:

Altogether, the budget for these three calls will serve to further implement the Bioeconomy in Europe where at least five countries (Finland, Germany, Ireland, Sweden and Norway) already have approved strategies at governmental level.




From 06/06/2016 - 02:00 to 09/06/2016 - 02:00

Join us in Amsterdam for the 24th European Biomass Conference and Exhibition, the leading international platform for dialogue between research, industry, policy and biomass businesses.

The EUBCE represents one of the key events on both a European and global scale for companies and professionals operating at the top end of the biomass and bioenergy sector.

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28/03/2014 - 11:20

You may have heard of the bioeconomy and wondered what it is all about. Discover it now! Read more


12/06/2015 - 16:30

The first ten projects of the new Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU), a partnership between the EU and industry, will get underway with a total of €50 million from Horizon 2020, the EU's research funding programme, and a further €28 million from the industry. This is thanks to the signature of the grant agreements finalised today (15 June 2015). Read more

25/11/2014 - 11:30

Over 500 hundred participants attended the Infoday on Societal challenge 2 calls for 2015 organised by European Commission in Brussels on 21 November 2014. Read more

Featured Projects

07/10/2015 - 02:00

EU-funded researchers are developing an environmentally friendly alternative to petrochemical-based coatings on food and beverage packaging. Made from food processing by-products, the biodegradable coatings would decrease dependency on fossil fuel-based plastics, improve recyclability and reduce landfill waste. Read more

20/08/2015 - 15:56

The INNPROBIO project aims to help Europe’s bio-based products sector capitalise on recently adopted European public procurement rules. These new rules are designed to encourage public entities to purchase products and services that meet advanced ecological and social aims. Read more

08/04/2014 - 15:51

In a time of climate change, when fuel resources are under pressure and lands face potential erosion risks, humble grass seems an unlikely saviour. The European research project OPTIMA is helping cultivate high-yielding perennial grasses that could address these possible challenges, offering a number of valuable environmental and economic benefits. Read more


01/04/2015 - 13:30

For three decades, the EU Framework Programmes have been funding breakthroughs across Europe. RTD’s Horizon Magazine looks at the people and events that have helped shape European research policy, taking you behind the scenes during the pivotal moments from the last 30 years of research funding. These articles have been brought together into a special Horizon supplement to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Framework Programmes. Read more

Press Release

13/10/2015 - 18:51

Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation said: "Research and innovation are the engines of Europe's progress and vital to addressing today's new pressing challenges like immigration, climate change, clean energy and healthy societies. Over the next two years, €16 billion from Horizon 2020 will support Europe's top scientific efforts, making the difference to citizens' lives." Read more

08/04/2015 - 18:50

Researchers, businesses and innovators from Ukraine will now be able to fully participate in Horizon 2020, the European Union's research and innovation funding programme, on equal terms with EU Member States and other associated countries. Read more