Channel Bf, launched this week by Lyon-based EEI (Editions Européennes de l'Innovation) in association with EuropaBio, the European association for bioindustries, is an online TV channel designed to enable biotech companies to present video clips directly targeting potential investors and business partners.
EuropaBio, which represents companies involved in the genetic modification (GM) of crops, believes that the innovation will help the industry build on the rapid development enjoyed by European biotech firms in the last few years.
With almost 2,000 companies, Europe is nearly on a par with the US when it comes to biotechnology. But US companies employ twice as many people, invest three times as much on R&D and generate twice the revenues of their European counterparts.
EuropaBio argues therefore that the biggest challenges for the European biotech industry - which generates 50 per cent more companies than the US year on year - remains access to finance, facilitating research, and the implementation of European community legislation.
But biotech companies clearly feel that the mood is changing in Europe. More and more farmers are planting GM crops, while hostile European regulators are softening up to the technology.
This month, the EU ordered Greece to lift its ban on a GM seed manufactured by Monsanto, and also granted European approval for three Monsanto GM maize types. The industry believes that European consumers are slowly being won over by scientific as well as economic argument.
Nonetheless, European consumer opinion is still unequivocally anti-GM, and retailers have tended to respond by advertising their products as 'non-GM', creating an impression that this is a health and safety as well as an environmental issue.EuropaBio accepts that there remains a great deal of apprehension on the part of both companies and potential partners over GM technology. Achieving widespread acceptance is therefore still the biggest obstacle.
This is exactly where Channel Bf comes in. Accessible on line via www.channelbf.com, it should enable biotech companies and potential partners to get to know each other via a modern, innovative, relevant, standardised, efficient, user-friendly and multi-lingual medium.
The technology offers both operators and companies two different formats to present themselves: business clips which last 10 minutes and business pitches that last one to two minutes.Free access to the content on Channel BF, claims EuropaBio, guarantees users a major penetration to reach important targets groups.
Channel Bf was launched in Geneva, Switzerland on Monday.
EuropaBio has 60 direct members operating worldwide and 25 nationalbiotechnology associations representing some 1,500 small and medium sized enterprises involved in research and development, testing, manufacturing and distribution of biotechnology products.