The two trillion euro sector, which covers everything from agriculture, forestry and fisheries to food, chemicals and biofuels, is an area where Europe must invest, according to Innovation Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn.
Speaking at a conference in Brussels, the commissioner said the bio-economy has a key role in promoting innovation issues that address major societal challenges such as pressure on natural resources.
"The time is right to launch a European strategy on the development of a bio-economy. The bio-economy strategy will aim to reinforce European leadership in the biosciences," Geoghegan-Quinn said, promising investment in education, research and innovation.
She said the Commission would begin a consultation process by the end of the year, before adopting a communication in the autumn of 2011. The commissioner said the strategy would be on the agenda of the Council of Ministers by spring 2012.
The EU will today (15 September) launch a new International Bio-Economy Forum in collaboration with Australia, New Zealand and Canada to promote collaboration.
Europe to launch 'innovation partnerships'
Geoghegan-Quinn also revealed that the Commission will launch a small number of targeted 'innovation partnerships' in areas with a direct link to societal change.
"These partnerships will provide a framework for pooling resources and bringing together key actors and relevant policies and instruments, simultaneously unblocking bottlenecks and building bridges. They will not be a brand-new instrument as such: rather they will weave together in a new way the many existing instruments already in play," she said.
The commissioner also pledged to ensure that the next Framework Programme for Research (FP8) will continue to provide investment in research from which innovation can flow.