News 191 views last update:7 Aug 2012

EU approves French biotech state aid

The European Commission has cleared the awarding of €31 million in state aid from the French Industrial Innovation Agency for biotechnology research.

The EU's regime for state aid is intended to prevent member states from protecting or promoting companies to the detriment of competitors within the EU. The goals are to guarantee an undistorted single market while boosting competitiveness.

Having examined the French research programme, known as Osiris, the Commission has concluded that it is not spontaneously market-driven as the research results that follow will be disseminated, benefiting other parties, including competitors.

The Osiris R&D programme has a funding envelope of €77 million that will be spread over eight years. The aim is to produce tools for the rapid selection of micro-organisms, to develop industrial solid-state fermentation processes, and to create specific biotechnology products that will improve the yield of biofuel production from wheat and maize in particular.

These biotechnology products should also boost the performance of the cereals, oilseeds and protein crops used for animal feed while increasing the harvest of the co-products yielded during biofuel production.

Finally, the technology will be used to produce alcohol-free beer and malted beverages, and to protect cereal crops from the disease fusariosis (fungus infection).

The programme will be coordinated by the Soufflet group,  a French family-run firm specialising in the collection and transformation of agricultural resources. It will also involve another French company and a research institute.

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