Toolkit Helps European Regions Towards Bio-Economy
How can regions successfully convert residual streams from the food and agriculture industry into food, animal feed, chemicals, materials or energy? A comprehensive toolkit was recently developed that allows regions to create a regional strategy for the development of the bio-economy step by step. The toolkit was developed in the EU project POWER4BIO, in which Wageningen University & Research collaborates with four other European research institutes.
The Bioeconomy Strategy Accelerator Toolkit provides local policy makers with 30 downloadable documents with which they can create a strategy in four steps. The method is based on strategies developed by 10 European regions as part of POWER4BIO. According to Martien van den Oever, project manager of Wageningen Food & Biobased Research, strategy development starts with analysing the potential that is already present regionally: “What raw materials are already available? What industry exists and how is the infrastructure? After that, you have a network with all interested parties that could play a role in the bio-economy. The next step is to work together with stakeholders to develop a vision on the regional bio-economy. In the final step, you will create the regional strategy, including a plan to implement that strategy. The toolkit supports regions in all four steps.”
Part of the toolkit is a catalogue developed by researchers from Wageningen containing 35 ideas for converting residual streams from the agri-food industry into food, animal feed, chemicals, materials, and energy. “These examples serve as an inspiration for policy makers to search for opportunities within their own region,” Van den Oever explains. “All of these examples have proved to be successful, at least at the pilot level.”
Translating to technology
The toolkit gives regions guidance in developing a strategy for the regional bio-economy. After that, it is up to the regions to translate this into concrete value chains for converting local raw materials with new technologies into high-value applications. Van den Oever: “In the end, it’s about knowing how to convert residual streams so that the next link in the chain can make use of them. That is exactly what we know how to do. We are happy to help regions with that.”