For over 50 years, French farmers have been striving to take their destiny into their own hands, through vertical integration. The first invetments in food processing started in the 1960's in the malt, milling and corn industries. In the 80's, the notion of value creation trough non-food applications emerged, a vision which led to the creation of ARD (Agro-Industrie Recherches et Développements).
A stakeholder in the Bazancourt-Pomacle biorefinery, near Reims in France, ARD is a mutualised private research structure, owned by major players in French agribusiness as well as regional farming cooperatives. It was created in 1989 to find new opportunities for creating value from its shareholders' produce (cereals, sugar beet, alfafa, oilseeds, etc.). ARD has developed expertise in :
ARD and its subsidiaries have a total of 130 employees and generate a turnover of over €20 million.
With B.R.I., ARD is becoming a platform for open innovation. Having signed an agreement with the French Ministry for Industry in December 2009, B.R.I. (Biorafinerie Recherche et Innovation) is an open technological platform for the industrial scaling-up of biotechnology processes. This platform boasts laboratory equipment, pilot installations and an industrial demonstration unit (BioDémo).
Biodémo enjoyed financial support from the General Council of the Marne Département (€1.25 million), the Champagne-Ardenne Region (€1.25 million) and the ERDF (€2.5 million), making B.R.I. the European benchmark in terms of biorefinering.