Frequently Asked Questions

Why was an amendment of the BBI JU Regulation required?

The total budget of the BBI JU amounts to €3.7 billion, of which €2.7 billion has been committed by industry. The private contribution consists mainly of in-kind1 (contribution which is paid in goods and/or services rather than cash) contributions to operational costs (IKOP2), as well as Additional Activities (IKAA3) (e.g. investments in demo and flagship infrastructure).

During the budget negotiations for the establishment of the BBI JU, the industry also committed in cash contributions, with the understanding that such in cash contributions would take place at project level and that all industry commitments would be taken into account. However, the actual BBI JU Regulation, Council Regulation 560/2014, did not include the option of in cash contribution at project level.

For industry, financial contribution at programme level is commercially unviable because it does not offer any guaranteed benefit in exchange (e.g. results of the projects and related intellectual property rights) and it could benefit competitors participating in projects funded by the BBI JU.

Therefore, a solution was sought among the BBI JU founding partners and an amendment of the Regulation was formally proposed by the European Commission in February 2017. Following positive recommendations from the European Parliament, the EU Council approved Amending Regulation 2018/121 on 23 January 2018 to facilitate the modalities of the industry financial contributions as from the 2018 Call onwards and make in cash contributions possible at project level.

 

 

Contribution which is paid in goods and/or services rather than cash
IKOP are costs incurred in the implementation of the project not reimbursed by BBI JU or any other EU programme
IKAAs are investments outside the work plan, i.e. not directly linked with the call for proposals
 

What are the new ‘special RIAs’ (also called ‘cash RIAs’) introduced in the BBI JU Call 2018?

Thanks to a change in the BBI JU Regulation in January 2018 it is now possible to participate in projects ‘in cash’, as a contribution to the industry commitment to the BBI JU (see FAQ on Amendment of the BBI JU Regulation).

A special eligibility criterion has been included in some RIA topics1, so called ‘special RIAs’, of the 2018 Call, to encourage ‘in cash’ financial contributions2 by so called “BFNRs - beneficiaries not receiving funding”, meaning large industry members of the Bio-based Industries Consortium (BIC) in BBI JU projects. These cash payments are to pay other consortium partners who are eligible to receive funding (universities, SMEs). The target is 50 – 60 % of the total eligible budget co-financed ‘in cash’ by industry. The special RIAs topics call for RIA projects at low TRL: projects for these topics can start at TRL as low as 1 or 2 and must end at TRL 3 or higher.

Therefore, a consortium that submits a project proposal for any of these ‘special RIAs’ must include at least one partner that is a BIC member (during the entire duration of the project) not eligible for receiving BBI JU funding. This means a large enterprise that is a Full BIC member. The BIC membership must be effective at the latest on 6 September 2018, the deadline for submitting proposals for the 2018 BBI call.

It is evident that other partners within a consortium can also provide cash contributions.

 

 

1 BBI 2018.SO2.R4, BBI 2018.SO2.R5, BBI 2018.SO2.R6, BBI 2018.SO2.R7, BBI 2018.SO2.R8 and BBI 2018.SO3.R11
2 ‘in cash’ (financial contributions) are financial transfers from one or more partners to one or more other partners of a BBI JU project consortium; the financial contribution by a BNRF replaces the BBI contribution, i.e. the payment should cover the implementation of parts of the Description of the Action, and it is requested that the consortium describes in the proposal who is going to make the transfer, who is going to receive, and for which tasks is this transfer going to be used.

How can large enterprises that are not yet a member of BIC participate in the ‘special RIAs’ topics in the BBI JU 2018 Call?

To meet the eligibility criteria of the ‘special RIA’ topics, a consortium that submits a project proposal must include at least one partner that is a BIC large industry member on 6 September 2018 and during the entire duration of the project (see FAQ on ‘special RIAs or cash RIAs’). In order to meet the 2018 Call deadline of 6 September, new membership applications have to be submitted before 6 August 2018.

BIC Full Membership is open to industrial and commercial companies, or any other kind of legal entity representing industrial and commercial companies, which are active in the field of bio-based industries in Europe and have a legal entity established in countries of the European Economic Area (EAA).

Members benefits and obligations, including payment of the annual membership fee, are described in the BIC Statutes and Internal Rules. The application procedure is described in detail on the BIC website and includes formal approval by the BIC Board. Membership applications can be submitted at any time, however the whole procedure between submission of a duly completed application form and Board approval will take at least 1 month.

For 2018, BIC is willing to make a special arrangement for new large industry members that are partners in consortia for the ‘special/cash’ RIA topics. To this end, the potential new member should contact the BIC office at info@biconsortium.eu.

What are the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) for BBI JU projects?

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) for BBI JU projects fall under the Horizon 2020 IPR general regime. The main rules applicable to the ownership of project results can be found in the BBI JU model grant agreement (MGA). BBI JU will demand to the Consortium to meet all its legal obligations according to the Grant Agreement.

The European IPR Helpdesk offers free of charge, first-line support on IP and IPR matters to beneficiaries of EU-funded research projects and EU SMEs involved in transnational partnership agreements. The Helpdesk has published a Factsheet for Horizon 2020 exploitation and dissemination. Each participant must disseminate the results it produces – and therefore owns – as early as possible. Exceptions only apply to protect intellectual property rights (IPR), security or legitimate interests.

Internal arrangements for implementing the grant are to be included in the Consortium Agreement (CA) between members of the consortium. The Consortium Agreement can be complemented by other agreements between the partners. The beneficiaries remain free to grant licenses (including quasi-exclusive licenses) to their own results, as long as they can guarantee that all the access rights can be exercised. They can even grant an exclusive license if the other beneficiaries have waived their access rights. If provisions of the signed Consortium Agreement are not respected beneficiaries will have to solve the dispute between themselves.

IPR belongs to the team that generates the results. In very specific circumstances, joint-ownership may apply. Once results have been generated the joint owners may agree on a different ownership system. Joint owners must agree in writing on the allocation and terms of exercise of their joint ownership, by way of a joint ownership agreement. If joint owners have not yet concluded a joint ownership agreement, the default joint ownership regime set forth in the grant agreement will apply. According to this default regime, each joint owner may grant non-exclusive licenses, without any right to sub-license, as long as the joint owners are given at least 45 days advance notice and a fair and reasonable compensation.

What and who is the Biobased Industries Consortium (BIC)?

BIC is an association that was established in 2012 to collectively represent the private sector partners in a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) with the European Commission, the Bio-based Industries Joined Undertaking (BBI JU). The Consortium started with 40 European member companies (large and small) and is set to grow over time. It also includes associate memberships comprising RTOs, universities and European trade associations. It is host to a unique mix of sectors including agriculture, agro-food, technology providers, forest-based sector, chemicals and energy.

Who can become a BIC member?

BIC is an industry-driven association. Any industry (large, SME or SME cluster) with proven bio-based activities are encouraged to join BIC as as Full member.

RTOs, universities, associations, public institutions, banks, regions or any other stakeholder with expertise or interest in the bio-based economy can apply to become an Associate member.

For more information, see Join Us

What are the benefits of BIC membership?

Joining as a Full member puts your organisation in the driver’s seat: you actively contribute to the drafting of the annual BBI Work Plans and to identifying the priority topics that will be funded under the BBI. You have access to BIC’s Partnering Platform (members only) and benefit from matchmaking events organised ahead of the official publication of the annual Call.

Associate members are consulted on the draft annual Work Plans, and hence get early access to the BBI’s official Call. Associate members also benefit from BIC’s Partnering Platform and matchmaking events.

Is there a yearly fee?

Yes, there is a yearly membership fee that varies depending on whether a Full member or an Associate member. The membership fee is used to support the administration, running expenses and staff of the BIC office.

For more information, see Join Us

Why a public-private partnership?

The BBI JU initiative is a public-private partnership aiming at increasing investment in the development of a sustainable bio-based industry sector in Europe. This objective should be achieved by means of funding industry-driven projects in the framework of the Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda (SIRA).

A European public-private partnership is needed to de-risk an emerging industry. It will help pooling resources together from public and private sectors, in order to create a common platform that will allow for the leverage of further investment in the bio-based industries. It will also allow the industry to get organized along the bioeconomy value chain.

The BBI JU provides for:

  • A clear framework that brings clarity for activities & investments
  • Long term stability and predictability
  • A joint approach, across sectors and geographies
  • Joint financial commitment and a jointly defined programme that unite parties who would otherwise find these activities to be too risky for an individual sector/company to carry out on its own
  • The ability to leverage additional investments
What are the expected results of the public-private partnership?

The BBI JU will create new jobs, especially in rural regions, and offer Europeans new and sustainable products sourced and produced locally. Making the economy more sustainable by using renewable resources in a smart and efficient manner will benefit society as a whole.

Bio-based industries will increase the competitiveness of the European economy through re-industrialisation and sustainable growth. New value chains will be created between often unconnected sectors, ranging from primary production and processing industries to consumer brands.

The development of new bio-based products and markets based on smart and efficient use of resources will diversify industries’ revenue streams. The BBI JU should therefore enable European companies to be more competitive in the global bioeconomy race with the US, China and Brazil.

The BBI JU is expected to bridge European research knowledge with commercial scale bio-based products, making full use of European scientific and technological knowledge.

The BBI JU should benefit all Member States where regions can play an important role through their Smart Specialisation Strategies.

How is the BBI JU funded?

A total of €3.7 billion will be invested in bio-based innovations over 2014-2020.

  • EU contribution (Horizon 2020): €975 million
  • Bio-based Industries Consortium: €2.7 billion (of which €1.8 billion will be dedicated to additional activities such as Flagship projects).

Being an emerging industry, it will be important to use this PPP to leverage capital markets and additional private and public funds (e.g. synergies with EU Structural Funds) to top up existing public and private commitments.

How does the private sector invest in the BBI JU?

According to the ambition and scope of the objectives of the BBI JU, projects will be supported both by public funding (Horizon 2020) as well as by own contributions from the project participants. The ‘consortium own contribution’ is the private input from the consortium for which no public BBI JU funding is requested. The consortium own contribution is an indication of the commitment of the consortium to support the objectives of the BBI JU, leverage private investments and maximise the impact of the action.

The consortium contribution consists of one or more of the following 3 elements:

  • • ‘in cash’ monetary contributions to one or more partners of a BBI JU project (= a voluntary financial contribution, not included as estimated eligible costs by the contributing partner nor reported as receipt by the receiving partner).
  • • ‘in kind’ contributions:
    • The cost incurred by one partner implementing the project minus the funding provided by BBI JU or any other EU programme
    • In some actions there will be a ‘residual’ part of the budget for which no BBI JU funding can be requested
    • When one or more consortium members request less than the maximum possible funding, then there is a higher ‘in kind’ contribution, which is a good indicator of commitment to the project and increased impact.
  • ‘Additional investments’ (also named ‘Additional Activities’) refer to investments (e.g. infrastructure, facilities, durable equipment, etc.) performed by the consortium members (both BIC and non-BIC members) that contribute to reaching the industrial objectives of the projects. They are:
    • triggered by the project (directly or indirectly);
    • not included in the BBI JU project budget, but described in the proposal
    • contributing to the objectives of the BBI JU project and/or the BBI JU initiative as a whole. BBI JU’s main objective is to develop sustainable and competitive bio-based industries in Europe. That is why BBI JU will measure the full impact of the BBI JU on the bio-economy in Europe, and why these additional investments (if any) need to be described in the proposal. (Source)
What are the differences between BBI JU and Horizon 2020 rules?

Although the BBI JU operates under Horizon 2020 rules, the main differences are:

  • Large industry is not eligible for funding (reimbursement rate = 0%) in Research and Innovation Actions (RIAs) and Coordination & Support Actions (CSAs)
  • BBI JU-specific evaluation sub-criteria (e.g. in the 'impact' evaluation criterion, evaluators will assess the extent to which the consortium own contribution maximises the impact of the action for all the types of actions);
  • The threshold for the evaluation criterion 'impact' is 4/5 for all types of actions • BBI JU supports proposals from TRL 3 to 8 (= a wider range than Horizon 2020)
How are the Calls decided?

The content of the annual Calls is drafted by the industry members of BIC. Following a series of consultations with the European Commission, the BBI Programme Office and the States Representative Group and Scientific Committee, the BBI Governing Board ultimately adopts the official annual Work Plan, after which point the Call is launched. The evaluation of the projects is performed by the BBI Programme Office that hires independent experts, as per the Horizon 2020 evaluation process.

Who can apply to BBI Calls?

Everyone can apply and everyone is strongly encouraged to do so. Rules for Participation are the same as Horizon 2020. There is no guarantee that members of BIC will be the beneficiaries. The principles of Openness, Transparency, Excellence, Impact, and Quality and Efficiency of Implementation prevail.

What is the 4% Project Contribution?

The consortium partners of successful proposals will be requested by BIC (Bio-based Industries Consortium) to pay a fixed project contribution calculated as 4% of the approved BBI JU grant amount for the project.

As per the Council Regulation No 560/2014 of 6 May 2014 establishing the Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking, the BBI Programme Office is to be financed equally by the Commission and BIC, and the PPCA (Protected Project Contribution Account) is the mechanism that has been put in place by BIC to finance this BBI Programme Office. Since BBI calls are OPEN to all participants whether they are BIC or non-BIC members and as part of the sector’s collective responsibility, all project participants are requested to contribute equally and fairly to the Programme Office’s running costs. The Project Contribution shall not be considered an eligible cost for the projects, and such is not part of the grants.

This PPCA FAQ document outlines all major PPCA aspects that can be circulated to project consortium members.

How to build successful consortia and project proposals?

Matchmaking events

  • BIC members (both Full members and Associate members) can interact via the BIC partnering tool and attend the BIC matchmaking event which follows the General Assembly meeting early in the year. There is an other opportunity for partnering during the BBI JU Open Info Day that is organised by the BBI Programme Office.

Participation of partners from different countries is recommended

  • For RIAs and IAs, the consortium must be composed of at least three ‘legal entities’ established in at least three different Member States or Associated Countries. The entities must be independent of each other. Coordination and Support actions on the other hand can be a carried by only one ‘legal entity’ established in a Member State or Associated Country.

Industry participation is recommended

  • As BBI JU is an industry-driven programme, many expected impacts listed in the topic texts can only be effectively reached with some form of industrial involvement. Furthermore, the level of ‘own contribution’ will be taken into account during the evaluation of the project proposal. Participation is not limited to BIC members. Nevertheless, consortia containing BIC members that have actively contributed to the Annual Work Programme and Topics for the Call for proposals have demonstrated a higher success rate in winning proposals.

The consortium type and size greatly depends on the topic text and the broadness of expertise of individual consortium members.

More details can be found in the text of the respective call.

What is the impact of BREXIT on BBI consortia?

Until the UK leaves the EU, EU law continues to apply to and within the UK, both when it comes to rights and obligations. This includes the eligibility of UK legal entities to participate and receive funding in Horizon 2020 (and thus also BBI JU) actions.