Commission puts forward lead markets initiative

The European Commission has called for concerted action to quickly foster the emergence of six lead markets where Europe has the potential to become a world leader, the ‘Lead Markets Initiative
for Europe’ (LMI) focuses on areas where Europe’s public authorities can facilitate industry-led innovation by creating favourable legal and regulatory frameworks, setting standards, improving
access to risk capital, providing support for research and encouraging public procurement for innovative goods and services.

The first high-growth lead markets identified for research and innovation-rich goods and services are bio-based products, e-health, protective textiles, sustainable construction, recycling and
renewable energies.

The Commission hopes its initiative will increase the combined annual turnover of these markets from ?120 billion to over ?300 billion and result in more than 3 million jobs in the EU in 2020.

‘Europe must develop innovation friendly markets in a more targeted way, creating conditions to facilitate the marketing of innovative products and services,’ said Commission Vice President
Günter Verheugen, responsible for enterprise and industry policy. ‘The Lead Market Initiative has identified promising emerging markets in which the European Union has the potential to
become world leader and where coordinated action is urgently needed,’ he added.

Bio-based products has been identified as one of the areas in which an innovation-friendly market can be created for businesses to launch new products made from renewable raw materials.

‘Europe is well placed in the markets for innovative bio-based products, building on a leading technological and industrial position. Perceived uncertainty about product properties and weak
market transparency however hinder the fast take-up of products,’ reads a statement from the Commission.

Its action plan in this lead market is to integrate a range of actions from improving the implementation of the present targets for bio-based products to standardisation, labelling and
certification to ensure quality and consumer information on the new products to harnessing the purchases of public authorities.

The European biotech industry welcomed the Commission’s communication saying that encouraging public procurement for bio-based products, stimulating demand via standards, developing an
information and communication campaign explaining the benefits of these products, and looking for specific financial support for the establishment of biorefinery pilot and demonstration plants
would stimulate the development, production and uptake of bio-based products in Europe.

‘This Lead Market Initiative is the first step in the process of active political support and incentives that will help Europe reap the full benefits of the knowledge based bio-economy. We are
pleased that the Commission has adopted an integrated approach bringing together all the major policy areas – such as research and innovation, environment, agriculture, industry, transport and
energy – to develop a common action plan in this area. We encourage the Commission and the Member States to follow up this Communication with concrete actions to provide full benefits and
increased competitiveness for the European market,’ said Ian Hudson, the Chair of EuropaBio’s Industrial Biotech Council.

The Commission will publish a communication on the implementation of a lead market approach in the first part of 2008.

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