Knowledge Based Bio-Economy

International Knowledge-Based Bio-Economy Forum

Informal cooperation initiative between the EC, Australia, Canada and New Zealand

The European Commission, Australia, Canada and New Zealand launched a new cooperation initiative called the 'International Knowledge-Based Bio-Economy Forum' on 15 September 2010.

The purpose of the Forum is to share ideas and experiences on policy, strategies and actions in the various bio-economy sectors, to come up with new ideas to address societal challenges, and to foster collaboration and joint activities that will promote innovation in bio-economy sectors.

During the first meeting on 15 September in Brussels, the partners presented bio-economy policy developments in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the EU, they reviewed ongoing foresight activities, and discussed how to better foster knowledge transfer and involve industry and SMEs. Agreement on working modalities and joint activities in 2010 and 2011 concluded this first meeting.

Objectives and aims

The Forum is a new multi-partner cooperation initiative initiated by the Directorate for Biotechnology, Agriculture and Food at the European Commission’s DG Research. It is an extension of the various bilateral approaches to cooperation between the EC, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. It promotes cooperation in the bio-economy through policy dialogue and scientific cooperation between the partners. The Forum members exchange information on policy, strategies and implementation (what has worked and what has not) and on programmes that are ongoing and planned by each partner in the bio-economy sectors.

The Forum also acts as a think-tank for identifying future trends and challenges in the bio-economy. Based on policy and scientific discussions, it identifies common challenges and priority areas for joint activities aiming to develop a bio-economy at international level. The activities of the Forum raise awareness of funding opportunities, promote the sharing of knowledge, and boost collaboration in the spirit of the Science and Technology Agreements.


The International KBBE Forum is co-chaired by representatives from the four partners. The role of the co-chairs is to agree on future priorities and, as needed, discuss visibility, financing issues, etc. Executive secretaries from the four partners are responsible for organising joint activities and coordinating the daily work – and together with the co-chairs they form the core group of the Forum.

In addition to this core group, scientific work streams are set up to address particular topics identified by the Forum partners. Each partner takes the leadership in one scientific stream, but all four participate in organising the work and the implementation of joint activities.

Working modalities

The work of the Forum is divided into three levels:

  1. Annual meetings of co-chairs and executive secretaries that deal with matters of policy/future orientation/visibility/financing (rotating between four parties);
  2. Steering level (executive secretaries), dealing with follow-up and planning;
  3. Cooperation in agreed scientific areas. Four work streams have been identified: 
    • Bio-refineries & bio-based materials (led by Canada in 2010-2011)
    • Food & Health (led by Australia in 2010-2011)
    • Fisheries & Aquaculture (led by the EC in 2010-2011)
    • Sustainable agriculture (led by New Zealand in 2010-2011)

Work stream activities can include scientific workshops, twinning workshops, training events, summer schools, the exchange of scientists and the coordination of calls, etc.

In 2010, three scientific meetings have been organised:

  1. A closed working meeting to discuss possible cooperation in fisheries and aquaculture, held in Nantes, France on 22 September 2010.
  2. A workshop on ‘Biotechnologies for bio-refineries and bio-based materials’, held in Saskatoon, Canada, on 5-7 October 2010.
  3. A workshop on ‘Food and health twinning opportunities’ held in Brussels, Belgium, on 15-16 November 2010.

A workshop on sustainable agriculture might take place in New Zealand in the first half of 2011.

The next Forum meeting of co-chairs and executive secretaries will be hosted by Canada in 2011.

For more information, contact Gintare Kemekliene.