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"

John Bell

John Bell
Director of the Bioeconomy Directorate in DG RTD

John Bell was appointed Director of the Bioeconomy Directorate in DG RTD on 16 January 2014. The Directorate defines, implements and evaluates EU research and innovation policy and initiatives for a sustainable and competitive bioeconomy. It responsibly addresses societal challenges in the areas of agriculture, forestry, food, biobased industries, marine and maritime by unlocking their potential benefits for European society, its economy and our global partners.

It ensures the optimal integration of R&I across EU policies notably – Food Security, Water, Energy, Consumer Protection – in cooperation with Commission services. It promotes the coordination and alignment of R&I objectives with our regional, national, European and international partners. Before this he was the Chef de Cabinet of the European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn. In this role, as the Chief of Staff of the Commissioner’s private office, he was responsible for the strategic political and policy direction of the European Commission’s policy on research and innovation and the modernisation of the European Unions Research Framework Programme, which is the world’s largest publicly funded research programme.

Reframing research and innovation as a driver of economic reform, excellence, competitiveness and the prioritisation of tackling the grand societal challenges such as climate change, ageing, and energy security through global cooperation is central to this process. His role in the definition of the European Union’s 2010 “Innovation Union” policy, the 2011 “Horizon 2020″ Framework programme, reinforcing the Joint Research Centre’s global scientific impact and the 2012 European Research Area package, was his main priority as it entered the delivery phase. He has been a European Commission official since 1993. During his career to date he has worked on humanitarian aid assistance programmes in the former Yugoslavia and in Albania, as well as public administration reform in Central and Eastern Europe. He was the Poland country desk officer responsible for the European Commission’s Opinion on their application for EU membership.

At senior level he was a member of the cabinet of Commissioner David Byrne with responsibility for enlargement, public health and global health security issues, including bioterrorism. As Head of Strategy for the Commission’s food, health and consumers directorate general SANCO, he was responsible for rolling out Regulatory Impact Assessments, modernising stakeholder relations and foresight activities. He was the Chef de Cabinet for the first Bulgarian European Commissioner Meglena Kuneva on Consumer Affairs, where he led an economic empowerment approach to consumer policy and consumer markets including global safety issues.

John Bell was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1963 and was educated at Synge Street CBS. His academic career began at University College Dublin where he completed his undergraduate and Masters Degree focussing on Anglo Irish studies. After a short spell in business journalism in London, his passion for Anglo-Irish studies led him to complete his doctoral thesis (D.Phil) at St John’s College, Oxford University in 1993 on cultural nationalism and national identity formation in Northern Ireland in the work of Seamus Heaney.

He is married with three children. He is an active member of a book club, and his interests extend from European public policy, to tennis, football, sailing, gardening, uncreative writing and the art of conversation.