Endless possibilities, many good examples and strong engagement of companies and researchers were demonstrated at the international conference on Bioeconomy Business Development & Innovation that was held recently at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Alnarp, Sweden
On the 18 June 2019, 47 participants from industry and the research community met in Alnarp, Sweden, to learn more about successful innovations within the bioeconomy and opportunities to be further developed. The Interreg project BioBIGG was the host for this event as part of the project work. Moderated by Bengt Malmberg, RISE, several companies and universities presented their work with making their processes more resource-efficient while at the same time developing new products from side streams that earlier represented a cost as these had to be treated as waste.
Kalle Johansson from Lyckeby Starch, a south Swedish starch producer, underlined the importance on continuous development as they have done in the history of their company. Resource-efficiency and valorization of side streams need to go hand in hand in order to justify the investments in a process addition or change. To see the presentation by Kalle Johansson click on the video below:
As a Polish example, Dariusz Mikielewicz from the University of Gdansk presented Podole Wielkie, a crop and cattle farm, and Farm Frites Poland, a potato factory, formed an intriguing symbiosis, where the companies use each other´s residual streams to close material, energy and nutrient loops.
Paludiculture, or cultivation of rewetted peatlands, was one of the adjusted farming solutions presented by Anke Nordt from the German Mire Centre. The idea originated from the need of decreasing the large greenhouse gas emissions from drained peat soils and suggests potential crop alternatives that result in similar revenue for the involved farmers compared to their original cropping systems – minus a large part of the climate impact.
Using agricultural residues from seed production as solid fuel for biochar production is already a commercial reality in a small town in Skåne, south Sweden. Ann-Mari Fransson from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) in Alnarp presented the changes that were made in Skånefrö, the seed company, and a number of new opportunities the biochar production has opened up for. Process energy is used for district heating while the biochar is developed as soil improver for urban applications such as city tree plantations, green roofs or innovative stormwater constructions.
Large-scale production of bioplastic polymers is a reality already, with innovative material properties as demonstrated by Åke Rosén from Gaia Biomaterials, Sweden. The feedstock is currently imported from Asia, but could just as well be produced in Sweden, if the full potential of crop production was realised, Åke argued. Furthermore he explained that the right choice of feedstock may also bring additional benefits, such as improved visual material properties and reduced climate impact. To see the presentation by Åke Rosén click on the video below:
As a reaction to the strong trend towards more plant protein based diets, new feedstocks are investigated for the extraction of food grade protein concentrate for direct consumption or as food additive. Thomas Prade and William Newson from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) presented a prefeasibility study on the use of intermediate crops grown as catch and cover crops as feedstock for this purpose. Within an ongoing innovation project, the Plant Protein Factory, the proposed extraction process with be tested in the soon to be opened pilot plant at SLU. To see the presentation by Thomas Prade and William Newson click on the video below:
Tyge Kjær of the University of Roskilde, Denmark, rounded up the program with remembering the auditorium of the dimensions of the challenge in the transition to a bio-based economy and the still increasing energy and resource demand. On the other hand, the potentials for increased biomass production and supply are large and present a vast variety of opportunities for research and companies to not only solve the environmental problems of today but to create a more sustainable bioeconomy in the near future.
In the afternoon, company representatives and researchers gathered for a workshop where barriers and drivers for the development of innovative bio-based products were discussed in thematic sessions. These sessions included the main four value chains that are in the focus of the BioBIGG project and that cover the largest feedstock potentials for product development – straw, forestry residues, industrial and household food wastes and residues from the sugar industry. Common for all value chains was that high potential economic profits for innovative products are in sharp contrast with high investment risk, indicating the need for extended public investment funding. Another barrier was identified in the industry demand for homogeneous feedstocks at constant quality, while residual feedstocks are often varying in quality and volume during the year, boiling it down to issues in storage and logistics.
During the day many ideas were exchanged and developed and horizon widened. The informative atmosphere was appreciated by many participants and the discussions in plenary and breaks were a start to bridge the gap between the researcher´s and the industry´s view on how to promote more and faster product development and residue valorization in the bioeconomy.
On 25 June 2019, a bioeconomy workshop organized by BioCon Valley in cooperation with the University of Applied Sciences Neubrandenburg took place in Neubrandenburg, Western Pomerania. About 30 participants from industry, research, and administration discussed the local and regional challenges and potentials of bioeconomy.
In the morning, lecturers from the University of Applied Sciences Neubrandenburg provided an overview on different fields of bioeconomy, including the history of bioeconomics, the potential of biofuels, (and especially) biogas plants in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, and biotechnological application options of algae. The last topic was broadened by a lecture on the market potential of marine biotechnology products, in particular, special sugars from macro algae. A representative of industry presented the PLANTBAC® panel system for soil irrigation and remediation.
Moreover, two projects were introduced and presented. The Plant3project, recently approved under the BMBF’s “WIR!” funding line, will develop and establish concepts for refining plant-based raw materials in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. The EU Interreg project BioBIGG will strengthen bioeconomic processes and products through cross-border knowledge transfer and networking.
To reveal potentials and deficits of the bioeconomy in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, as well as to develop possible solutions, three important challenges and possible solutions were tackled in an interactive exercise during the afternoon of the conference. They were:
- Which new ideas and impulses can you give for current and future contents of the bioeconomy in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania?
- Promoting the diversification of agriculture, developing new sources of raw materials, and using them sustainably
- Realising value chains locally, and extending them to include high-quality products
- Clarifying award procedures and defining sustainability criteria
- What are the most important “To-Dos” for the bioeconomy in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania?
- Reduction of administrative barriers
- Creation of a “Competence and Transfer Centre for Bioeconomy
- Establishing Chairs for bioeconomy courses at university locations
- What suggestions do you have for achieving better interlinkage and cooperation between the various bioeconomic activities in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania?
- Greater involvement of the state government and regional administrative structures
- Promotion of technology projects at universities with the involvement of SMEs with an appropriate co-payment
- Summary of all bioeconomy activities (projects, institutes, SMEs) under a common, institutionalised structure
As a result, five fields of action were identified which should be pursued with a critical urgency.
Politics and administration: Sustainable criteria for ecological applied concepts must be defined and – wherever possible – deregulated. At the same time, politics and administration need to be involved more than before in the conception and implementation of bioeconomic processes.
Strategic Measures:when considering the interaction of all actors, clear strategic lines must be identified and pursued. This includes a clear commitment to bioeconomy as an independent field in the future, as well as the implementation of task and action plans with concrete priorities for the upcoming decade.
Coordination:There is a need to coordinate the various bioeconomic activities in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. From the beginning, the necessary coordinative control must be recognised as a long-term task. A joint, coordinated, approach will be of decisive importance, particularly for successful technology transfer and the establishment of new companies.
Structural Measures:A central anchor point could be a potential institutionalised competence centre for bioeconomics. This centre will perform the necessary interdisciplinary coordinative tasks while also serving as a contact point, knowledge base, and intermediary for the implementation of regional bioeconomic value chains. In addition to a number of promising individual measures, this includes (in particular) the promotion of pilot projects and best practice examples. Furthermore, those bioeconomic activities that currently have to prove themselves under project-specific funding would be given a sustainable perspective.
Information and Knowledge Transfer: The competence centre can also perform the important task of disseminating knowledge and science to the population. In addition, the aim should be to establish professorships and study courses for bioeconomy and entrepreneurship, at as many university locations as possible in the region.
On the 18th of June the BioBIGG project will be hosting an international conference on bioeconomy business development and innovation in Alnarp, Sweden. Here you will be able to get new insights on valorization of biomass-based residues, develop your business and opportunities for cross-border networking. Press here to register.
The Nordic Council of Ministers is Policy Area coordinator in the Action Plan for the European Union Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR) to promote cooperation within the bioeconomy.
The Policy Area (PA) “Bioeconomy” is one of 13 Policy Areas of the EUSBSR Action Plan and covers agriculture, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture as well as rural development. Regular meetings and dialogue activities in the Baltic Sea Region since 2013 have identified key persistent bottlenecks for realising the bioeconomy related to
Bioeconomy Policies, Bio-based Business, R&D and Innovation and Civil Society and Outreach.
Objectives of the meeting in Copenhagen were:
- Creating stronger engagement of participants in council and PA bioeconomy
- Involving participants in trend analysis
- Getting input to revision of action plan
The first day focused on trends of the bioeconomy in the BSR. The second day zoomed on the work carried out in the PA bioeconomy, including the upcoming revision of the EUSBSR Action Plan. Beneath presentations the participants helped to identify key trends within the bioeconomy.
One BioBIGG partner from Germany took part in the meeting to give input on the revision of the action plan. Also the BioBIGG project was introduced to the participants.
The goal of this Interreg programme is to contribute to a more circular bio-economy in the Baltic Sea region. As of January of this year the consortium of BalticBiomass4Value are working towards developing online-based tools, workshops and training concepts for private enterprises and local/ regional authorities, as well as a good practice database for the region. The project’s output will focus on guidelines on circular bioeconomy development, and will promote them through experience exchange and training activities across the region. The first publicly accessible results can be expected in autumn of this year.
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The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is providing up to 15 million € over the next five years to the Plant³ Alliance for a bio-based structural change in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. The aim of the joint project is to process and upgrade plant raw materials for a new drive in eastern Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.
The economically, socially and ecologically sustainable use of the huge land, peatland and sea areas in the eastern part of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania holds a considerable potential of added value that has so far been insufficiently exploited. Legumes, such as the blue sweet lupin, are a valuable source of protein in agriculture for further processing in the food industry. Reeds and bulrushes (Typha) from rewetted bogs supply fibres for new building and insulating materials. High-quality special sugars from marine algae, which are used in pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, among other things, could be an additional source of income for fishermen in the future.
The centre of knowledge is located in Greifswald and forms a focal point for bioeconomy stakeholders: There is research expertise bundled at the University of Greifswald, a business incubator at the WITENO GmbH and highly innovative small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) such as Enzymicals AG. It is supported by the business location Anklam with the sugar factory, Anklam Extrakt GmbH and Continental AG. “The replacement of an economy based on fossil resources by the use of bio-based resources and biological processes offers a historic opportunity to achieve immense added value locally to our region being no longer the extended workbench for other regions with exporting of agricultural raw materials,” says Dr. Stefan Seiberling from the University of Greifswald, who coordinated the successful application consortium of more than 60 companies, associations, farmers, public administrations, universities and research institutions.
“The initiative has already developed a very good dynamic, which I have never experienced before in Pomerania”, explains Rolf Kammann, Managing Director of the Wirtschaftsfördergesellschaft Vorpommern. “The participatory approach, the involvement of all actors from fishermen to farmers who supply the valuable raw materials to the biotechnology company which extracts ingredients out of them, which in turn are used in the food, construction, energy or textile industries in the region, is our key contribution to structural change in eastern Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.
The core of the open innovation network is an innovation management system which, with the support of all stakeholders, identifies the needs in the region and develops project ideas and supports their exploitation. The innovation management is flanked by a so-called Plant³ greenhouse, which as an incubator and accelerator for innovative projects is a core element of cooperation and the creation of innovation capability. “We are developing new instruments to sprout ideas and create competitive start-ups that will fill the Centre for Life Science and Plasma Technology with life in the future,” says Dr. Wolfgang Blank, Managing Director of WITENO GmbH.
A think tank will scientifically accompany the development of new value chains and provide impulses for strategic development based on scientific analysis. “Bioeconomy is a great opportunity, especially for our structurally weak rural area,” emphasizes Prof. Daniel Schiller, speaker for the Plant³ network. “The aim is to examine success factors and barriers to innovative products and processes at the operational and regional level and thereby improve the innovative capacity of the players in the Plant³ network.
The Alliance Plant³ – Strategies for the high-quality refinement of plant-based raw materials in North-East Germany – is promoted by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research within the framework of the programme WIR! – Wandel durch Innovation in der Region (Change through innovation in the region). The WIR! projects are intended to use innovative approaches to promote structural change in their regions. The programme is primarily aimed at regions that are not yet visible innovation centers.
Roskilde University as representative for all BioBIGG partners signed a Letter of Intent to support the Plant³ alliance. A first get together with BioBIGG and Plant³ partners will be at the conference in Anklam in November 2019.
WITENO Wissenschafts + Technologiepark NORD°OST° GmbH
Source: Universität Hohenheim / Simon Zielonka
The State Institute of Agricultural Engineering and Bioenergy (Baden Württemberg) developed an innovative process to generate bio-methane from sugar beets in cooperation with bio-energy innovation specialist NOVATECH GmbH. The new conversion procedure allows for a two-phased fermentation of sugar beets, which enables fractionation of the bio-gas at the time of generation. In essence, this new process allows for higher yields in methane production and hence significantly lower costs in further processing.
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