Bioeconomy 3 min

BIOMATA: a new International Associated Laboratory (LIA) for biobased products with the Scion institute in New Zealand

PRESS RELEASE - During a visit to Wellington (New Zealand) by an INRAE delegation, a formal agreement for the creation of BIOMATA (Biorefinery for Sustainable Materials), a new International Associated Laboratory (LIA) was signed on 30 March by Philippe Mauguin, CEO of INRAE and Helen Anderson, the Board Chair of Scion, in person. Philippe Augé, President of the University of Montpellier, and Carole Sinfort, Director General of the Institut Agro Montpellier, also signed the agreement. Using plant biomass resources, BIOMATA will supply basic and applied knowledge for the development and use of biobased materials in the products of tomorrow. Research will reflect a circular economy approach that minimises the ecological footprint of manufacturing processes and makes a product’s end-of-life options a part of the design phase.

Published on 30 March 2023

illustration BIOMATA: a new International Associated Laboratory (LIA) for biobased products with the Scion institute in New Zealand
© Pixabay

This new LIA brings together the “Materials, Engineering and Manufacturing” and “Chemistry and Physics” research groups of Scion, New Zealand’s national forestry research institute, and three research units from INRAE's TRANSFORM division: the Montpellier-based IATE joint research unit for Agropolymer Engineering and Emerging Technologies, which is jointly supervised by INRAE and Institut Agro Montpellier; the Biopolymers Interactions and Assemblies (BIA) research unit in Nantes, and the FARE joint research unit for the Fractionation of AgroResources and Environment of the Université de Reims.

Biobased materials for the products of tomorrow

Using natural resources sustainably, including the reduction of post-harvest losses and the quantity and lifespan of plastics, are a goal of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development of the United Nations. Likewise, lifestyles and technology today are driving a strong demand for the design of new high-tech products that are sustainable. Both New Zealand and France endorse policies in this area to support the transition to a circular bioeconomy. Over the last decade, Scion and INRAE have contributed significantly to this kind of research, and both institutions include such goals in their 2030 roadmaps.

The groups and laboratories involved in the LIA work to develop biorefinery systems that limit the environmental impact of manufacturing processes while remaining economically competitive. This global approach aims to develop processes that harness all of a plant resource by envisaging a range of applications based on the properties of its different parts and by using a combination of chemical, physical and biological transformation processes to minimize inputs and waste. This context creates unique opportunities for the development of joint research initiatives that combine skills and testing resources available in both countries, which helps accelerate the impact of research in this field. 

Combining science, technology and the environment

Research conducted by the LIA will focus on:

  • Characterising wood-based plant materials, wood by-products and a variety of plant materials for the purpose of manufacturing advanced biobased materials;
  • Developing sustainable processes for manufacturing these materials;
  • Designing functional materials and objects using 3D and 4D printing and studying their properties.

Research will take the form of synergistic studies conducted at the facilities of the different laboratories involved. It will focus on developing joint methodologies for the characterization and processing of advanced biobased materials, the co-supervision of trainees, doctoral and post-doctoral students, reciprocal research exchange opportunities at the different partner laboratories, scientific mediation activities and the organisation of seminars via videoconferencing whenever possible in the interest of environmental sustainability given the distance between France and New Zealand.


(From left to right, top to bottom) New Zealand Research, Science and Innovation Minister Hon Dr Ayesha Verrall, LIA BIOMATA project leaders Claire Mayer-Laigle and Marie-Joo Le Guen, Scion Chief Executive Dr Julian Elder, the French Ambassador to New Zealand HE Laurence Beau, Scion Board Chair Helen Anderson, and INRAE CEO Philippe Mauguin.

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Climate change and risks

France-Spain-USA: a new international associated laboratory dedicated to climate impacts on freshwater ecosystems

PRESS RELEASE - On 10 June 2021, Philippe Mauguin, Chair and CEO of INRAE; Noam Pines, Associate Director at the University of California, Berkeley; Laurent Bordes, President of the University of Pau and the Adour Region; and Eva Ferreira Garcia, Rector of the University of the Basque Country in Bilbao; undertook to create a new international associated laboratory: the LIA MacLIFE. By bringing together complementary disciplinary expertise, this new “laboratory without walls” will be dedicated to knowledge on the impacts of climate change on freshwater organisms and ecosystems. The joint work of the teams involved should support new policies for the management of aquatic environments.

11 June 2021


Two Stars of Europe prizes awarded to INRAE led research projects in bioeconomy

The French Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation has awarded two Étoiles de l’Europe (Stars of Europe) prizes to projects led by INRAE, a recognition for the quality of their research and their commitment to Europe. The two projects, ZELCOR (special jury prize) and NoAW (open science prize) are working to re-use agricultural and food waste by leveraging circular economy and bioeconomy approaches.

01 December 2021

Climate change and risks

FairCarboN, an exploratory Priority Research Programme and Infrastructure (PEPR) with sights set on carbon neutrality

PRESS RELEASE - Jointly steered by the CNRS and the INRAE, the FairCarboN exploratory Priority Research Programme and Infrastructure (Programme et Équipement Prioritaire de Recherche, or PEPR)[1] aims to develop the role of continental ecosystems in climate change mitigation and the attainment of carbon neutrality. Inaugurated on 11 April 2022, this PEPR has a six-year budget of €40 million, financed through France’s Programme d’Investissements d’Avenir 4 (PIA4) funding mechanism. It is issuing an initial call for proposals this month and will back five target projects, to foster greater dialogue between the disciplines, locations, and parties involved.

11 April 2022