Research & Innovation - Participant Portal


TOPIC : Improve control over microorganism growth in bio-catalysis operations in order to reduce/avoid contamination without antibiotics

Topic identifier: BBI-2016-R03
Publication date: 19 April 2016

Types of action: BBI-RIA Bio-based Industries Research and Innovation action
Opening date:
19 April 2016
Deadline: 08 September 2016 17:00:00

Time Zone : (Brussels time)
  Horizon 2020 H2020 website
Pillar: Societal Challenges
Work Programme Year: H2020-JTI-BBI-2016
Work Programme Part: BBI Work Plan 2016
Topic Description
Specific Challenge:

With the introduction of several and different feedstock, the risk of contamination increases due to longer fermentation times and weaker genetically modified production organisms. This leads to more stringent requirements for control of contamination within the bio-catalysis reactor. The objective is to overcome this challenge without exacerbating cumbersome sterilisation procedures or increasing the use of antibiotics, which would spread antibiotic resistance in the microorganisms. The latter would reduce the overall efficiency of the processes and impose an increasing substitution of the currently utilised microorganisms with new and more resistant strains.

In addition, residual antibiotics found in biorefinery side-streams hinder their potential use as a secondary feedstock for food/feed applications, as the EU regulatory framework in place needs to be taken into full account.

Hence, the use of antibiotics in bio-catalytic processes, although beneficial in controlling microbial growth, presents several drawbacks mainly associated with the risk of increasing antibiotic microbial resistance, as well as with the reduction of market value of the side-streams containing traces of antibiotics because of regulatory aspects.

The challenge is to develop other methods to control contamination. Alternatives include for instance microbial consortia (including synthetic consortia), non-antibiotic antimicrobials (like phages), more robust production microorganisms and more suitable bio-reactor conditions. These new methods should lead to expanding the potential feedstock basis and promoting the market position of bio-catalytic processes by:

  • improved tools, methods and production organisms;
  • repressing contamination to the level that complies with the end-use of the products (e.g. compliant to limits in feed or food applications), while avoiding or reducing the use of antibiotics.

The result could be a wider market deployment of by-products and residues, and technical and environmental benefits from limiting antibiotics resistance.


Improve the techniques for microbial control in bio-catalysis. The improvements should include less cumbersome sterilisation steps and use of improved bio-catalyst microorganisms and process conditions to curb contamination, avoiding the use of antibiotics.

Proposals should provide process yields at least comparable to the state-of-the-art. Proposals should also result in relevant improvements of the market value of by-products and side-streams, as compared with the current technologies.

Proposals should assess the feasibility of scaling-up the developed solution and the potential for replication into a wide range of bio-catalytic processes and value chains, allowing a better and larger application of the innovative techniques with the aim of avoiding or controlling contamination.

In addition, proposals should include high levels of safety and sustainability, from technical, economic and environmental points of view, required for feasible scale-up towards demonstration levels.

The projects should cover any Technology Readiness Level (TRL) from 3 to 5. In the case of a pilot scale project (TRL 5), proposals should present a credible cost estimate for the proposed processes with a preliminary assessment of their competitiveness when scaled up.

Proposals should also include an environmental and socio-economic assessment, for example with an LCA. In particular, when targeting TRL 5, proposals should include an LCA in order to evaluate the environmental and socio-economic performance of the developed processes.

It is considered that proposals with a total eligible budget in the range of EUR 2-5 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals with another budget.

Expected Impact:
  • New bio-catalytic tools, methods, processes and microorganisms with a greater resistance against contamination and capacity for longer duration fermentations, including continuous fermentation.
  • Technical and economic improvements in the management activities of bio-catalytic processes, especially the reduction of 20% of the costs associated with the control of the microbial growth.
  • Introduction of new routes and technologies for bio-based processes able to reduce their scale-up time as well as the time-to-market of the resultant products.
  • Improved competitiveness of the new bio-based value chains as compared to the existing ones.
  • Contribution to the BBI JU Key Performance Indicators (KPI), specifically:
    • Set the foundation of at least 1 new bio-based value chain (KPI 2).
Cross-cutting Priorities:

Socio-economic science and humanities
Cross-cutting Key-Enabling Technologies (KETs)

Topic conditions and documents

Please read carefully all provisions below before the preparation of your application.

  1.  List of countries and applicable rules for funding: described in part A of the General Annexes of the H2020 Work Programme. Note also that a number of non-EU/non-Associated Countries that are not automatically eligible for funding have made specific provisions for making funding available for their participants in Horizon 2020 projects (follow the links to Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Hong Kong &Macau, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Taiwan).
  2.  Eligibility and admissibility conditions: described in part B and C of the General Annexes of the H2020 Work Programme with the following exceptions: BBI JU Derogation to H2020 Rules for Participation.

    Proposal page limits and layout: Please refer to Part B of the standard proposal template.
  3.  Evaluation

    3.1 Evaluation criteria, scoring and threshold:
    described in part H of the General Annexes of the H2020 Work Programme, with the exceptions described in part 2.3.6 of the BBI JU Work Plan 2016.

    3.2 Submission and evaluation process: Guide to the submission and evaluation process and the BBI JU Calls - Guide for applicants (RIA-DEMO-CSA).

  4. Indicative timetable for evaluation and grant agreement: 

    Information on the outcome of single-stage evaluation: maximum 5 months from the deadline for submission.
    Signature of grant agreements: maximum 8 months from the deadline for submission.
  5. Provisions, proposal templates and evaluation forms:

               Specific provisions and funding rates: ddescribed in 2.3.4 of the BBI JU Annual Work Plan 2016.

               BBI JU proposal templates (Administrative forms and Technical annex) are available after entering the "start submission" button and then after entering the "Download Part B Templates" button

               Standard evaluation form (CSA)

               Standard evaluation form (RIA)

               Standard evaluation form (FLAG and DEMO)

               BBI JU Model Grant Agreement – Multi-Beneficiary

                H2020 Annotated Grant Agreement 

  1. Additional provisions:

    Technology readiness levels (TRL), where a topic description refers to TRL, these definitions apply.
  2. Open access must be granted to all scientific publications resulting from Horizon 2020 actions, and proposals must refer to measures envisaged. Where relevant, proposals should also provide information on how the participants will manage the research data generated and/or collected during the project, such as details on what types of data the project will generate, whether and how this data will be exploited or made accessible for verification and re-use, and how it will be curated and preserved.
  3. Additional documents

    BBI JU Work Plan 2016
    BBI JU Scientific Innovation and Research Agenda (SIRA)
    Horizon 2020 Rules for participation
    BBI JU Derogation to H2020 Rules for Participation
    BBI JU Regulation of establishment
    Horizon 2020 Regulation of Establishment 


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