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Forest-based Sector Technology Platform
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issue#29

January 2017

Dear Reader,
Johan Elvnert, FTP Managing Director
A few days ago, scientists at NASA released a report saying that 2016 had been the hottest year globally on record (again)! Measurements at 6,300 locations - across the globe - were analysed. But I did not have to read the report. This information took less than five seconds for me to read, from a 140-character tweet.

This illustrates a challenge we are facing today; public discourse is becoming more and more unsuitable for describing the patience needed to grow a forest or to research and develop one of the many products and services a skilled professional can extract from the forest.

If you are with me so far, let’s look again at some of FTP’s records set in 2016. Firstly, there were a lot of exciting developments that took place in our National Support Groups (NSGs): NSG Finland adopted a new Forest-Bioeconomy National Research Agenda (NRA), NSG Austria mapped Austria’s national research priorities, NSG Norway saw a step-up in activities after completing a new national strategy, and in the UK our stakeholders rallied to establish a “full status” UK National Support Group after some years as observers. NSG Slovenia got the jackpot with the application to establish the new InnoRenew Centre of Excellence. We also had the pleasure of welcoming several new NSG representatives to “active service”, while having to say goodbye to a few retiring friends, grateful for all their work and dedication.

As for EU funding to implement the FTP Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda, we have counted more EU projects in 2016 and also more funding than in the previous year. We were also pleased to see a positive outcome of our efforts to secure an EU Call for a new ERA-Net project for the forest-based bioeconomy. With regard to FTP’s own H2020 project, VERAM, we started work on a European Raw Materials Research Roadmap for 2050 together with, to a great extent, the mining and minerals sector.  This also gave us the opportunity to welcome a new valuable member to the FTP Secretariat and expand our team.

Many of you contributed to the FTP Topic Priority Process in 2016. The input served as the basis for our official input to the Horizon 2020 Work Programme 2018-2020, which has been well received by the European Commission.

What will 2017 bring? Whilst competing with other sectors and interest areas for EU funding, we will continue working with the forest-based sector value chain to ensure implementation of the FTP Strategic Research Agenda. To be successful, we need to mobilise all stakeholders and simultaneously get the attention of the European Commission and the Member States alike. Preparation of the Horizon 2020 Work Programme for 2018-2020 will also be concluded this year and discussions and negotiations on the next EU Research Framework Programme will intensify. The European Bioeconomy Strategy may be up for revision and FTP will continue its efforts in the European Bioeconomy Panel.

Trends come and go at an incredible pace, but forests and the forest-based sector are always at the forefront, relentless in the battle to combat climate change. Working together in Europe along the whole forest-based value chain is a winning concept! Setting long-term goals and sticking to them for years sometimes feels a bit tedious and old-fashioned, but we know how to pace ourselves. We are the forest people after all.
 
 
Johan Elvnert
FTP Managing Director
 
The Bioeconomy Panel pushes the bioeconomy higher up the European Commission's agenda 
There are high expectations of the Bioeconomy Manifesto and the role it could play in creating political attention for the bioeconomy. This opinion was expressed by Waldemar Kütt in the European Bioeconomy Panel meeting, on 17 January. This was Kütt’s first meeting with the group, after having taken up the position of DG RTD Head of Unit on the Bioeconomy Strategy. His advice renewed the efforts of the members to finalise the Manifesto.
 
The editorial team in charge of rewriting and restructuring the building blocks of the Manifesto consists of four members of the Panel, including FTP. They have been holding meetings and drafting sessions in parallel to the regular Panel meetings to speed up the process, and are striving to reformulate the document in such a way as it creates a fair and equal playing field whilst also accommodating the views of all key stakeholders. The Manifesto is expected to be finalised after the summer.
 
The Bioeconomy Panel is an advisory body to the European Commission that aims to support interactions between different policy areas, sectors and stakeholders in the bioeconomy and lead towards tangible policy actions. FTP represents the EU forest-based sector in the Panel.
 
Mid-term assessment of Horizon 2020 shaping the next EU funding programme
The European Commission has launched an interim evaluation of Horizon 2020. The purpose is to assemble the lessons learned so far from Horizon 2020 and to help shape the next research framework programme.
 
The interim evaluation takes into consideration input from many consultations and discussions with experts, citizens, Horizon 2020 participants, public authorities and various stakeholder groups, including FTP. In December, Research Commissioner Moedas also announced a new High-Level Group of 12 independent experts tasked with providing recommendations to boost the EU’s investment in research and innovation by June 2017. 
The evaluation  is also an important reporting tool to inform the European Parliament and the Council, as well as European tax payers of the accomplishments and relevance of the EU Research Framework Budget, and its added-value to EU policy objectives.
Event organised by EUBA brings MEPs and industry together to discuss synergies between the bioeconomy and the circular economy
A successful and well-represented event organised by the European Bioeconomy Alliance (EUBA) brought together MEPs, Member State representatives, the scientific community and representatives from industry to discuss The role of Bioeconomy in the Circular Economy: taking circularity beyond waste at the European Parliament, on 12 January. The session, hosted by MEPs Miapetra Kumpula-Natri and Miriam Dalli (both from the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats – S&D), took the opportunity to showcase innovative biobased products and provide information, from both sector and scientific perspectives, on the relevance of the sustainable production of primary feedstock in Europe, to stimulate the transition from a linear to a circular economic model.
 © EBCD
During the event, participants exchanged views on important regulations and policy frameworks that touch upon the bioeconomy and biobased products including the EU Forest Strategy, the 2030 Framework for Climate and Energy, standards for biobased products and the circular economy, emphasising the need for a coherent and integrated policy framework.
ERA CoBioTech announces its first co-funded Call for transnational biotechnology research projects
 
The ERA-Net Cofund on Biotechnologies (ERA CoBioTech) has issued its first co-funded Call "Biotechnology for a sustainable bioeconomy” focused on transnational research projects in the field of biotechnologies.
The Call aims to contribute to the transformation of the global economy from one based on fossil fuel raw materials to a sustainable biobased economy. The proposals should cover at least one of the following scientific approaches identified in the Call: synthetic biology, systems biology, use of bioinformatic tools, or biotechnological approaches. Following a two-step selection procedure, the closing date for pre-proposals is on 2 March 2017 at 13:00 CET. Detailed requirements for projects are specified in the Call announcement. The ERA CoBioTech is a new ERA-Net CoFund Action under Horizon 2020 and with an indicative budget of approximately € 36 million, ERA CoBioTech brings together 21 funding organisations from 18 countries.
Download the Call Announcement

Have your say on the BBI JU's implementation
The European Commission has opened a public consultation to collect views and opinions on the implementation of the Joint Undertakings (JUs) under Horizon 2020 for the period 2014-2016. Participation of all FTP stakeholders is strongly encouraged, particularly to highlight the positive outcomes of the Bio-Based Industries Public-Private Partnership (BBI JU) and the sector’s interest to further explore this successful mechanism to facilitate market uptake of innovation in the sector.
The public consultation is open until 10 March 2017. The results of the consultation will provide input to the interim evaluation of the JUs and will be used as a basis to improve their performance. It will also feed into the interim evaluation of Horizon 2020. You can preview the questionnaire here to help you to prepare your response.

The project Optimised moulded pulp for renewable packaging solutions (PULPACKTION) is one example of forest-based bioeconomy innovation funded by the BBI JU. See the full list of BBI-JU financed projects in the FTP Database.

First-ever Maltese EU Council Presidency
On 1 January, the leadership of the rotating Presidency of the Council of the EU was handed over to Malta, the smallest EU Member State, who will hold the position for the first time since joining the EU in 2004. Key topics during the Maltese six-month term include migration, the single market, security, social inclusion, Europe's neighbours and maritime issues. The Maltese Presidency will witness challenges for the entire EU resulting from the upcoming Brexit negotiations and elections in the Netherlands and France.
One of the main events hosted by the Maltese Presidency during its assignment period is the EuroNanoForum 2017, which will take place in Valletta, Malta, on 21–23 June 2017. In its 8th edition, the conference will focus on how nano- and materials technologies can bring competitive advantages across all European industries. The programme will include sessions on finance and funding through European and national programmes, in particular, Horizon 2020, smart specialisation and public-private partnership initiatives. FTP has been discussing with the organisers of the event the proposal for a session dedicated to nanocellulose. The next EU presidency trio will start on 1 July, when Estonia, prior to Bulgaria and Austria in 2018, assumes the position.

National Research Agenda launched in Sweden
The Swedish forest-based sector launched its renewed National Research Agenda (NRA) at an event that involved national authorities, on 11 January in Stockholm. The document unites the views of the Swedish forest industry, academia and national funding providers with regards research areas of high relevance, with a view to strengthening the industry's competitiveness and stimulate growth in the bioeconomy around the world.
From left to right: Torgny Persson, Research and Innovation Director of SFIF and Chair of FTP’s NSG Sweden; and Carina Håkansson, Director General of SFIF.                                                          © SFIF
The Swedish NRA lists some 23 research areas for forest, industry and the development of the bioeconomy. They focus on enhancing the industry's competitiveness, increasing access to forest resources, improving sustainable forest management, developing innovative new biobased products and processes, and stimulating increased industrial wood construction in Sweden and around the globe. “An investment of more than 50%, in addition to the current € 420 million, would be a good start to accomplish the ambitions outlined in the new Research Agenda”, affirmed Torgny Persson, Research and Innovation Director of the Swedish Forest Industries Federation (SFIF) and Chair of FTP’s National Support Group Sweden (NSG Sweden).
New Swedish NRA (in Swedish only)
Switzerland regains full membership of Horizon 2020

As of 1 January 2017, Swiss researchers and organisations have been readmitted to the EU’s research and innovation funding programmes, including full association to Horizon 2020. For the past two years, Switzerland was cut off from full membership after its referendum-backed restriction on EU immigration. Readmission to Horizon 2020 entered into force in December 2016. Switzerland holds a long tradition of cooperation in research and innovation with the European Union, whilst the relationship is shaped by a series of bilateral treaties. Swiss researchers have been participating in EU Research Framework Programmes since 1988, either as Associated or third country partners.
 
See the updated European Commission’s fact sheet on Swiss participation in Horizon 2020.

The wooden façade of the new Council building has been chosen to symbolize Europe's cultural diversity? 
Could you imagine finding as many as 3,750 restored wooden window frames reclaimed from renovation or demolition sites in almost all EU member states in the heart of the Brussels European quarter? From the beginning of 2017 this is now possible, as the new Europa building opens its doors to heads of state and ministers from the Member States with its own very specific wooden charm. Not only does the external wooden façade on the northern and eastern sides showcase sustainable building through recycled materials, but it pays tribute to the very core idea of Europe and its cultural diversity and rich history. The leading architect and engineer behind the design of the building, Philippe Samyn, suggests that it can be seen as a reminder of the EU motto “united in diversity” as all windows are different (diversity) but all are made of oak wood (unity). From now on, Europa will be the home of two key European institutions, the European Council and the Council of Ministers as a venue for summits and ministerial meetings.
© Philippe Samyn and Partners architects & engineers - lead and design partner, Studio Valle Progettazioni architects, Buro Happold engineers.

Lignofuels 2017
1-2 February 2017 (Helsinki, Finland)
 
FTP Advisory Committee meeting
22 February 2017 (Brussels, Belgium)
 

Bioeconomy Impact 2017
The Journey to Innovation 

21-22 February 2017 (London, UK)

EU Industry Day
28 February 2017 (Brussels, Belgium)


 

Packaging Innovation 2017
1-2 March 2017 (Birmingham, UK)
 
SRA Policy Forum: Risk Governance for Key Enabling Technologies
1-3 March 2017 (Venice, Italy)
 
World Sustainable Energy Days 2017 
1-3 March 2017 (Wels, Austria)
 
Successful R&I in Europe 2017 
2-3 March 2017 (Düsseldorf, Germany)
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Copyright © 2017 Forest-based Sector Technology Platform (FTP), All rights reserved. 


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