Toolkit for bioeconomy blueprints

Green, bio-based industries could drive smart new growth in Europe's regions. An EU-funded project has developed assessment and guidance tools to help regions design strategies to boost entrepreneurship and investment in local bioeconomies.

Countries
Countries
  Algeria
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Bangladesh
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Benin
  Bolivia
  Bosnia and Herzegovina
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Burkina Faso
  Cambodia
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Cape Verde
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Costa Rica
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czechia
  Denmark
  Ecuador
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Ethiopia
  Faroe Islands
  Finland
  France
  French Polynesia
  Georgia

Countries
Countries
  Algeria
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Bangladesh
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Benin
  Bolivia
  Bosnia and Herzegovina
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Burkina Faso
  Cambodia
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Cape Verde
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Costa Rica
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czechia
  Denmark
  Ecuador
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Ethiopia
  Faroe Islands
  Finland
  France
  French Polynesia
  Georgia


  Infocentre

Published: 29 March 2017  
Related theme(s) and subtheme(s)
Agriculture & foodFood safety & health risks
Bioeconomy
Research policySeventh Framework Programme
Countries involved in the project described in the article
Belgium  |  Finland  |  Germany  |  Greece  |  Netherlands  |  Slovenia  |  Spain  |  United Kingdom
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Toolkit for bioeconomy blueprints

Picture of a man's hand touching the ears of grain

© Gajus - fotolia.com

The bioeconomy uses renewable biological resources – plants, animals or microorganisms – to produce goods ranging from food to industrial materials and chemicals. It is a growing sector, meeting demand for secure, low-carbon fuel and for new fossil-fuel-free products in various industries, and is the focus of a dedicated European Commission strategy launched in 2012.

To help public authorities develop strategies to ensure their regions achieve their full potential in this sector, the BERST project has developed an online bioeconomy toolkit. The toolkit provides local bioeconomy profiles, examples of good collaboration between businesses, researchers and public policy-makers, and an online forum for stakeholders and governments to develop local bioeconomies together, led by entrepreneurs’ understanding of what is commercially realistic.

“All regions can be regarded as potential bioregions,” says project coordinator Myrna van Leeuwen of Wageningen University and Research Centre. “There is no good or bad starting situation,” she adds. What matters is that stakeholders make the most of a region’s strengths – whether in terms of resources, knowledge or available finance – while taking into account its challenges.

Strategy guidance

BERST’s toolkit allows users to identify strengths and weaknesses for 200 NUTS regions in the European Union (NUTS is the EU classification of territorial units for statistics) by generating a “quick-scan” bioeconomy factsheet – the region’s bioeconomy profile. Regions from eight countries are involved in the project – Belgium, Finland, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Spain and the United Kingdom.

The factsheet compares a region’s performance for bioeconomy criteria to its country’s performance, and goes on to assess the region’s potential in typical bio-industries. Criteria go beyond natural resources; they also cover bioeconomy drivers such as education resources, research and innovation potential, population, infrastructure and financial support services. “The toolkit shows where to add effort or possibly partner with other regions,” says van Leeuwen.

To further guide bioeconomy strategies, factsheets include links to instruments and measures that either support bio-based industries in that region or impose requirements on them, drawn from the toolkit’s database of over 800 instruments and measures.

For seven large regions studied in depth, the toolkit adds a detailed report on bioeconomy strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT). Factsheets for other regions include a guide for designing users’ own regional SWOT analysis and bio-industry strategy.

Growth inspiration

These factsheets simply identify strategy starting points. Stakeholders add in their local knowledge to decide on the measures to implement, such as joint private-public undertakings or funding to expand SME production plants.

To spark ideas, the toolkit provides 11 regional bioeconomy case studies and four examples of good practice in bioclusters – groups of research institutes, regional authorities and businesses aiming to build up local bio-industry. And BERST’s online forum has helped other stakeholders learn from and support each other across sectors and regions.

Quick scans have already been used to develop a bioeconomy strategy report for the province of South Holland in the Netherlands, says van Leeuwen. She adds that other scans have been incorporated into regional meetings held in Spain, Greece, the Netherlands and Germany to raise awareness of the toolkit and build stakeholder collaboration.

The toolkit is freely available on the project website, which will be maintained until at least December 2017. BERST hopes to then provide its data and tools to the EU Bioeconomy Observatory for further use. “BERST shows how regional bioeconomy development can contribute to the competitiveness and cohesion of regions in Europe,” says van Leeuwen. “We learned a lot and the regional partners found the end result very useful.”

Project details

  • Project acronym: BERST
  • Participants: Netherlands (Coordinator), UK, Belgium, Greece, Slovenia, Germany, Finland, Spain
  • Project N°: 613671
  • Total costs: € 1 276 461
  • EU contribution: € 999 963
  • Duration: December 2013 - November 2015

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