- Circular Bioeconomy
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The Basque Country, with a population of 2.2 million, is one of the most important industrial areas in Spain. The strongest sectors of the Basque economy are metal industries, construction, machinery and transport equipment. The construction industry, especially, has high potential to move towards the bioeconomy through timber use but the automobile, energy and chemical industries could also be transformed by better incorporating local bio-based resources and new technologies.
More than half of the land area in the Basque Country (54%) is wooded. It is therefore no wonder that forest biomass is the most relevant biomass (two-thirds of the mass) for Basque entrepreneurs. There is about 0,89 ton of biomass available for every Basque citizen, this corresponds to roughly one-tenth of the materials consumed in the Basque economy.
The Basque government is looking beyond biomass, however, and has incorporated the bioeconomy as a core element of its circular economy strategy in order to realise a sustainable transformation.
The Basque Country has a strong innovation profile and within the forest bioeconomy start-up ecosystem, most start-ups function in the biotech, agri-food, forestry4.0 and timber construction sectors.
The Basque government considers bioeconomy as an opportunity to transform key industrial sectors of the region (mainly construction, automobile, energy, chemical industry) by providing a new generation of materials, products and business models enhancing the usage and value of local bio-based resources.
The vision of the Basque bioeconomy roadmap is to make the Basque Country a referent region in bioeconomy, promoting the generation and consolidation of high added value economic activities based on the optimal exploitation of regional resources.
The Basque Country approved a new Science and Technology plan (PCTI 2030) in February 2021. Its ultimate goal is to improve the standard of living and quality of employment in Basque society through an innovation policy that will place the Basque Country among the most advanced European regions by 2030.
The PCTI 2030 updates priorities in the Basque Innovation Smart Specialisation Strategy (RIS3) that identifies three priority areas responding to the necessary digital, energy and social transitions: 1) Smart Industries; 2) Clean energy; and 3) Personalised health. It also identifies new areas of opportunity for economic development: a) sustainable food; b) eco-innovation; c) sustainable cities; and d) creative industries. These priorities and opportunities are further developed in three leading cross-cutting initiatives: i) healthy aging; ii) electric mobility; and iii) circular economy.
The bioeconomy is considered as a core component of the cross-cutting circular economy initiative. It is envisioned as a transformative effort to biologise existing economic sectors based on endogenous biological resources.
The Basque forest bioeconomy ecosystem can be grouped into ten different categories.