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DNA Helix

Cofund on Biotechnologies

Innovation for Europe – life science meets market application

European Programmes and Initiatives

The European Union considers biotechnology a key enabling technology (KET) for the bioeconomy and is supporting efforts to strengthen biotechnology in Europe.

European Research Area Networks (ERA-NETs), Joint Programming Initiatives (JIPs), EUREKA and various other initiatives and programmes offer opportunities for all stakeholders to get involved with the European biotechnology community.

The European Research Area Networks (ERA-NETs) were established by the EC under the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) in 2003 to increase the cooperation and coordination of research activities across the European Research Area. This enables researchers and funders to tackle problems and research question they otherwise could not have solved on their own.

Under Horizon 2020, this programme is continued as ERA-NET Cofunds to support public-public partnerships, joint programming initiatives and other activities, and the preparation and establishment of networking structures.

ERA-NET Cofunds combine the funding modalities of ERA-NET programmes from previous EU framework programmes, which means that EC will contribute to the mandatory joint transnational call as well as other joint activities. This EC support plays a vital role in bridging national funding gaps during the mandatory joint call.

In the biotechnology space, the following ERA-NETs (or their follow-on programmes) are currently active:

AcronymType of actionkeywords

Promote the implementation of systems biology approaches in clinical research and medical practice

ERA-NET SysBio, data intensive science, health, bioinformatics
ERA-NET Bioenergy

Renewable energy sources for the future

ERA-NET follow on self-sustainable, bioenergy, innovation, tools & technology, agri-tech, industry, biomass

Towards sustainable food production and consumption

ERA-NET Food, socio-economics, agri-tech, industry, IB, tools & technologies

Strengthen research and innovation in materials science and engineering

ERA-NET materials, innovation, engineering, innovation

Improve collaboration in science, technology and innovation between Latin America and Europe

ERA-NET tools & technology, innovation
ERA.Net RUS Plus

improve collaboration in science, technology and innovation between Russia and Europe

ERA-NET health, materials, climate change, socio-economics, innovation, tools & technologies

Improve collaboration in science, technology and innovation between Japan and Europe

ERA-NET tools & technology, innovation

Develop a diverse but integrated food and non-food biomass production and transformation system

ERA-NET agri-tech, socio-economics, food, innovation, biomass, biorefinery, climate change

Creating value in the marine bioeconomy

ERA-NET Marine, biotechnology, aquaculture, tools & technologies, innovation, fisheries, food processing

Innovation the forest-based bioeconomy

ERA-NET Biotechnology, innovation, renewable, biomass, forestry

Improve research and innovation in personalised medicine

ERA-NET health, data intensive science, bioinformatics, industry
E-Rare 3

Coordinate and promote efforts for funding research on rare diseases by creating a research and innovation pipeline “from bench to bedside”

ERA-NET Health, medicine, tools & technologies, clinical applications

Information on the above ERA-NETs and other programmes can be found at ERA-Learn.

JPIs were initiated by the European Commission in 2008 in order to tackle the major societal challenges of our time. In a JPI, interested EU member states agree to work in partnership to develop a common vision and implement a Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) to make better use of resources in a structured way.

The bioeconomy plays an important role in these initiatives and will be key to tackling, amongst others, the following challenges:

  • Climate change
  • Ensuring energy and food supply
  • Healthy ageing of citizens
  • Preserving human and environmental health

 The following JPIs are relevant to the biotechnology sector:


Tackling the challenge of agriculture, food security and climate change

Agri-tech, climate change, food
Water JPI

Working towards sustainable water systems

Socio-economics, tools & technologies
JPI Climate

Joint Programming Initiative Connecting Climate Knowledge for Europe

Climate change, socio-economics, innovation

Promoting a healthy diet for a healthy life

Health, food, socio-economics, industry
JPI Oceans

Working towards healthy and productive seas and oceans

Marine, tools & technologies, socio-economics, climate change, industry, food, IB

Working on the challenge of neurodegenerative diseases

Health, socio-economics, tools & technologies

Working on the challenge of antimicrobial resistance

Health, socio-economics, innovation, tools & technologies, industry, agri-tech

Established already in 1985, the intergovernmental network EUREKA, as a leading facilitator of innovation, promotes and supports market-oriented international R&D&I project generation but also facilitates access to finance for companies involved in projects.

To raise the productivity and competitiveness of European businesses through technology by boosting national economies on the international market, and strengthening the basis for sustainable prosperity and employment, EUREKA differs three instruments for funding, particular the first one is very attractive for cooperation:

Funding schemecharacteristics
EUREKA Network Projects

for businesses, research institutes and higher education institutions

“bottom-up”, transnational, market-driven, covering all technological areas with a civilian purpose

specifically dedicated to research-performing SMEs

new products, processes and services ready for launch onto the market
EUREKA Clusters

for large companies and SMEs

long-term, strategically significant, catalyse the generation of innovative, industry-driven, near to the market and pre-competitive R&D projects in their respective domains
EIT RawMaterials

Largest consortium in raw materials sector worldwide; initiated and funded by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology; six regional Innovation Hubs in BE, FI, FR, IT, PL and SE partnerships with businesses, universities and research & technology organisations from over 20 EU countries.
Aim: to generate significant impact n European competitiveness by driving and fostering innovation and empowering stakeholder towards the circular economy
Impact: innovative and sustainable products, processes and services supported by skilled people
Support: for students, academia and industry


The Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU) is a €3.7 billion Public-Private Partnership between the EU and the Bio-based Industries Consortium. Operating under Horizon 2020, this EU body is driven by the Vision and Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda (SIRA) developed by the industry. The key is to develop new biorefining technologies to sustainably transform renewable natural resources into bio-based products, materials and fuels.
Feedstock: foster a sustainable biomass supply with increased productivity and building new supply chains
Biorefineries: optimise efficient processing through R&D and demonstrate their efficiency and economic viability at large-scale demo/flagship biorefineries
Markets, products and policies: develop markets for bio-based products and optimise policy frameworks

EIT Food

Following the zero waste agenda the KIC EIT Food aims to put Europe at the centre of a global revolution in food innovation and production by transforming today’s linear “produce-use-dispose” model into a circular bio-economy centred on the consumer. This happens by engaging the consumers in the change process, by improving nutrition and making the food system more resource-efficient, secure, transparent, and trusted.


The European Technology Platform for Sustainable Chemistry was officially launched in 2004 as a European Commission supported initiative to revitalise and inspire European chemistry and industrial biotechnology research, development and innovation in a sustainable way. Working as a forum that brings together industry, academia, policy makers and the wider society, SusChem follows its vision for a competitive and innovative Europe where sustainable chemistry and biotechnology together provide solutions for future generations.

cPPP Spire

SPIRE is a contractual public-private partnership (cPPP) which follows a cross-sectorial holistic approach, looking into all the components of the industrial operations, which are clearly identified in the domains covered in the roadmap (Feed, Process, Applications and Waste2Resource), and also addresses the non-technological barriers identified in the horizontal and outreach components. SPIRE supports the development of novel technologies for improved resource and energy efficiency in the process industry, making it more sustainable and competitive by bringing together eight sectors of the process industry: chemicals, cement, ceramics, minerals, steel, non-ferrous metals, industrial water and process engineering.