Transformative Bioeconomies: Towards a materials transition


To explore the materials transition, the investment theme focuses on two sectors and on four transition pathways. The two sectors are textiles and building materials. The four pathways are; 1) biobased materials, 2) recycling, 3) CO2 capture and utilization technologies, and 4) dematerialization.


Wageningen University and Research (WUR) invests in the theme of Transformative Bioeconomies, to support technological and institutional development advancing the phase-in of sustainable renewable materials and the phase-out of fossil feedstock. WUR has created this investment theme in the context of two application domains, namely building materials and textiles. This investment theme should strengthen the collaboration and coordination within WUR between scientists from widely diverging disciplines as well as between these scientists and societal stakeholders on whom transition depends.

Project description

The investment theme is organised in four Flagships and a Synthesis project. The two Domain Flagships work with societal stakeholders. The two Domain Flagships are Textiles and Building materials: The materials transition is thus intrinsically connected to the transformation of the economy towards a circular economy and the transition towards a fossil free society. These Flagships are primarily responsible for organising and coordinating the interaction between WUR staff and societal stakeholders. Each Domain Flagship first (2022) makes a baseline system analysis of the sector, including an inventory of existing innovation initiatives that require (and are open to) further analysis and support.

In 2022 and 2023 wildcards for small projects have been selected and executed. In doing so, Domain flagships apply and test innovative methodologies, concepts, tools and modes of working that are developed in a dedicated Design Flagship on ‘methodological challenges’. A second Design Flagship works on ‘imagination challenges’ in the form of ‘proof of principle’ projects. By 2023, these flagships were combined into the PoPMeth-group. In 2023 and 2024, each Domain Flagship strengthens the connection with two projects in its domain to share insights and develop WUR-wide knowledge, while advancing the projects closer to the market or upscale them.


Dr Emiel F.M. Wubben is co-lead in the domain flagship building, and active in the textiles flagship. The investment theme should strengthen the position of WUR in the respective domains, profile WUR externally on the topics where it adds value, and develop related communities of expertise in WUR. A working group, and students helped to develop the Baseline report on Building materials in 2022. Many projects, interviews, documents and datasets have been documented and consolidated. By 2023 two projects have been adopted for further collaboration. In the Textiles-domain Emiel collaborated with the specific flagship coordinators to develop and formalize the elective Circular Textiles & Biobased Materials.

Interested students can be involved at different stages off the project. Feel free to contact Wubben on it. Related to this activity Emiel Wubben is member of the Domain Accelerator Team (DAT) in the Built environment of the 4TU collaboration.


The extensive Baseline report is not public. An executive summary can be found here. The baseline report will lead to further communication output.