European Commission
Italian Presidency of the Council of the European Union
TOBE 2014 – 3rd BioEconomy Stakeholders' Conference

BioEconomy Stakeholders' Conference

"From sectors to system, from concept to reality"

Damien Plan

Damien Plan
European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC) - Project Manager for the EU Bioeconomy Observatory

Damien Plan is French. He was born in Montpellier, France in 1968. He graduated as Agronomist Engineer at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Agronomie de Montpellier (ENSAM).
Before joining the European Commission, Damien worked in the private sector, in the food industry and the life sciences industry.
From 1995 to 2005, Damien worked in Brussels, Belgium, first as EU Regulatory Affairs Manager in European Industry Trade Associations (EU animal feed industry and EU starch industry) and then as EU Public and Government Affairs Manager in the Brussels office of the Bayer company (Agricultural Business Unit Bayer CropScience).
From 2005 to 2008 Damien was Business Development Manager for Bayer CropScience in South East Asia, based in Singapore.
Damien joined the European Commission in 2009. His first appointment in the Commission was at the Joint Research Center (JRC) Institute for Health and Consumer Protection (IHCP) in Ispra (Italy), in the Molecular Biology Unit who was in particular in charge of managing the European Network of GMO Laboratories (ENGL), a network composed of approximately 100 national laboratories from all EU Member States.
In 2012, Damien moved to the headquarters of the European Commission JRC in Brussels to join Directorate A (Policy Support Coordination) and the Unit in charge of Scientific Support to Innovation Union. Directorate A has taken a central role in refocusing the JRC to effectively support the key political priorities of the European Union today and strengthening its identity as the Commission’s in-house science service.
Since 2013 Damien is the Project Manager for the European Bioeconomy Observatory.
He is responsible for a three-year project (2013-2016) to set-up the EU Bioeconomy Observatory, which is being established according to the European Strategy for Bioeconomy and which will allow the Commission to regularly assess the progress and impact of the bioeconomy.



Background: On 13 February 2012, the European Commission adopted a strategy for “Innovating for Sustainable Growth: a bioeconomy for Europe” COM (2012)60.
In the Communication the bioeconomy is defined as encompassing “the production of renewable biological resources and the conversion of these resources and waste streams into value added products, such as food, feed, bio-based products and bioenergy. The bioeconomy includes the sectors of agriculture, forestry, fisheries, food and pulp and paper production, as well as parts of chemical, biotechnological and energy industries.”

The Communication presents a Bioeconomy Strategy and Action Plan which foresee in particular the establishment of a Bioeconomy Observatory as follows: “Establish a Bioeconomy Observatory in close collaboration with existing information systems that allows the Commission to regularly assess the progress and impact of the bioeconomy and develop forward-looking and modelling tools.”

In March 2013, the European Commission Joint Research Centre launched a three-year project (March 2013-February 2016) to set-up the EU Bioeconomy Observatory. Accordingly the Bioeconomy Observatory project is presently “half-way”.

Present situation:

The Bioeconomy Observatory is being developed with policy-makers as primary customers, with the core objective to provide them with a reference source of information including authoritative data and analyses on bioeconomy. This information should provide a solid basis for coherent policy decisions to support the development of the bioeconomy in Europe.

The vision and the mission of the Bioeconomy Observatory can be summarised as:

-        Vision: to become a world-class source of information on the bioeconomy

-        Mission: to supply policy-makers and stakeholders at EU and national level with reference data and analyses on the bioeconomy, providing a solid basis for policy development and decision-making on the bioeconomy.


Year 1: Methodology definition (incl. existing mapping of sources of information and data available) and stakeholders relations (incl. aboutpossible data supply)

Year 2: (first) Data collection and Data Dissemination (mainly existing data selected in official databases – establishment of a first “baseline”)

Year 3: (more) Data collection and Data Dissemination (including production of “new” data based on data gaps identified in years 1-2) and also Data Analysis (including forward-looking and modelling) to monitor of development and impact of the bioeconomy

Examples of Challenges for the EU Bioeconomy Observatory

Based on the experience acquired in the first year of development,  examples of challenges faced by the Bioeconomy Observatory include:

  1. Broad definition of bioeconomy leading to a broad scope of monitoring

Based on the broad definition of bioeconomy laid down in the EU Bioeconomy strategy (in short any biomass production and any biomass conversion into value-added products), many sectors can therefore be considered as “bioeconomy-relevant” and to be monitored

Quantitative data will need to be collected by the EU Bioeconomy Observatory for various economic sectors:

-        Biomass supply/production  (like Agriculture; Forestry; Marine/Fisheries; Waste)

-        Biomass demand/conversion in 100% bio-based economic sectors (industries like Food/Feed; Paper and Pulp; Wood)

-        Biomass demand/conversion in “hybrid” (fossil and bio-based) economic sectors (industries like Chemicals, Textiles; Rubber and plastic)

Qualitative information will also need to be collected for a broad range of “bioeconomy-relevant” policy areas like Research; Agriculture; Forestry; Marine/fisheries/aquaculture; Enterprise/industry;  Energy; Environment/sustainability 

  1. Limited data availability from existing statistical databases

All data necessary to monitor bioeconomy are not readily available from existing databases. For instance the following limitations in data availability can be pointed out:

-        Statistics for “new” bioeconomy sectors ie hybrid sectors (partly fossil and partly bio-based, like chemical industry) are not available (because bio-based products are not differentiated from fossil-based products with specific statistical codes)

-        Statistics for “public sector R&D investment” in bioeconomy-relevant sectors are not available (because statistics for “public sector R&D investment” are produced according to broad socio-economic objectives and not according to sectors of activity)

-        Statistics related to biomass production sectors are most of the time available for one “general” aggregated level including “agriculture and forestry and fisheries”

-        Statistics linking the biomass supply and the biomass demand for different individual uses of biomass (food/feed, energy, industrial uses) are not available

-        Statistics for bioeconomy-relevant economic activities like for instance  “eco-system” services are not available.

  1. Limited access to national/regional information

The primary geographical scope of data collection for the Bioeconomy Observatory will be European with data being collected mainly at EU level, national Member States level and regional level. However Member States and regions may not apply the same definition of bioeconomy as the EU, which makes data collection and comparison challenging.

In general, availability of statistics and existing data is lower at regional level than at national level. But even at national level official statistics are not always available: for certain bioeconomy-relevant sectors (like food/feed industry) data are not available at individual Member States level (because of confidentiality reasons).

Important information like for instance national “public R&D investment” in bioeconomy at Member State level is not directly available and not easy to access.