Brussels, 15 May 2013
State aid: Commission approves €39.8 million in aid for the “Genesys” research programme for the development of third-generation biorefineries
The European Commission has decided that the aid granted by France to the P.I.V.E.R.T. Institut d’Excellence en Énergies Décarbonées (IEED, institute of excellence in the field of low-carbon energy) to conduct the Genesys research and development programme complies with the EU rules on state aid. The aim of the project is to develop a new generation of biorefineries using biomass to produce, among other things, clean energy. The aid addresses a genuine market failure without giving rise to an undue distortion of competition.
Commission Vice-President in charge of competition policy, Joaquín Almunia, said: “The progress targeted in green chemistry constitutes an ambitious goal in the field of hydrocarbon substitution and reducing CO2 emissions. The scientific and environmental impact of the Genesys project is undeniable, whereas the distortion of competition will be limited".
The objective of the Genesys project is to develop “zero-waste, positive-energy” third‑generation biorefineries using oilseed and lignocellulosic biomass (agricultural and forestry residues and urban waste) to produce clean energy (electricity, heat), as well as food products and chemicals. The project aims for around 100 scientific publications per year and the filing of some 40 patents on oilseeds and lipids over the next 10 years (patent pool).
In 2012 France notified its plans to provide €39.8 million of aid in the form of a grant and a capital injection into SAS PIVERT, the start-up set up to manage the P.I.V.E.R.T. IEED public-private partnership. The Commission examined the compatibility of the aid in relation to the Guidelines for state aid for research and development and innovation (R&D&I guidelines, see IP/06/1600 and MEMO/06/441).
Following its appraisal, the Commission concluded that the Genesys project suffered from market failures (in view, inter alia, of the positive externalities in terms of scientific, environmental and public health knowledge), and that the aid was both necessary and sufficient to spur SAS PIVERT to carry out an R&D project that it would not otherwise have launched of its own volition. Moreover, given the openness of the upstream technology markets and the limited market share that the beneficiary would have in them, any risk of distorting competition would be avoided.
SAS PIVERT will be 50% owned by the public sector and 50% held by six industrial partners from the chemicals, food manufacturing and engineering sectors. In addition to the universities behind its creation – Université de Picardie Jules Vernes, Université de Technologie de Compiègne and Université de Technologie de Troyes – SAS PIVERT will work with 14 other public research bodies acting together in a consortium. To carry out their R&D work in biorefining, these partners will have access to a building and experimental facilities specially designed for this type of work: the BIOGIS Center. If the R&D projects carried out prove to be successful, patent licences will be sold to interested firms on market conditions.
The non-confidential version of today's decision will be made available under case number SA 34876 in the State Aid Register on the DG Competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved. New publications of state aid decisions on the Internet and in the Official Journal are listed in the ‘State aid Weekly e-News’.