Bioeconomy Innovation Day 2023 explores multifunctional forestry and bio-based construction

To foster a stronger bioeconomy development, innovation is key to accelerating progress towards a circular, carbon-neutral economy. Bioeconomy researchers, policymakers and entrepreneurs help shape bioeconomy innovations that have the potential to bring about sustainable and transformative change for the forest-based sector.

On 4 October 2023, the European Forest InstituteBioregions Facility, Neiker and the Government of Basque Country, Spain, join to discuss pressing issues on sustainable and multifunctional forestry, advanced biomaterials and bio-based construction at the Bioeconomy Innovation Day 2023.

Financers, policymakers, and key actors in the bioeconomy innovation ecosystem, from research, business, forest management, industry, and civil society, will meet and explore new opportunities to drive the green transition. 

Start-ups, entrepreneurs, researchers, NGOs, venture and impact investors, all bioeconomy stakeholders, and society are invited to submit their innovations for a chance to pitch their solutions at the Bioeconomy Innovation Day in Bilbao, Spain.

View the agenda here (last update: 27 September 2023).

Bioeconomy innovation agenda

Looking for more events? Explore our Events page and add your favourites to your calendar.

Agenda for Wednesday (4 October 2023) – CEST

Get your ticket:

  • 8:15 | Registration
  • 9:00 | Welcoming words
  • Bittor Oroz, Vice-minister of Fisheries, Agriculture and Food Policy
  • 9:10 | Regenerative forestry: Boosting economic growth and natural assets side by side
  • Timo Lehesvirta, Leading Nature Expert, Metsä Group
  • 9:35 | Why Investing in the European Bioeconomy?
  • Ananya Manna, Investment Director, European Circular Bioeconomy Fund (ECBF)
  • 10:00 | Introduction to the Sessions and Networking Methodology
  • Leire Barañano, General Director, Neiker

Session 1 Sustainable and Multifunctional Forestry

  • 10:05 | Challenges and Opportunities for European Forestry
  • Bart Muys, Division Forest, Nature and Landscape, KU Leuven, Belgium
  • 10:30 | Solution providers
  • Zerticarbon: Blockchain-certified carbon sink solutions
  • HAZI: Digital tools for forest inventory and monitoring
  • Fortra: Traceability of wood products by the Xunta de Galicia
  • ArboFiRM: Digital twins of forest to mitigate forest fires by Arbonaut
  • VigilanTree: Artificial Intelligence and image classification to better understand our Ecosystems by Cesefor
  • 11:30 | Networking & coffee break

Session 2 Advanced Bio-based Materials 

  • 12:00 | Policy and Market Trends in the Material Use of Biomass
  • Michael Carus, Managing Director, nova-Institute GmbH
  • 12:25 | Solution providers
  • Evolgene: Cellulose nanocrystals for industrial and biomedical applications
  • Axalko: High-end bicycle frames made of natural fibres
  • Biorefformed: Mediterranean biorefinery to produce added value products
  • 13:30 | The Basque Green Deal and the Bioeconomy
  • Arantxa Tapia, Minister of Economic Development, Sustainability and the Environment
  • 14:00 | Lunch and networking

Session 3: A Boost for the Forest Bioeconomy Innovation Lessons from European Regions

  • 15:00 | Presentation of best cases of the acceleration and support of the bioeconomy in European regions: 
  • Irish Bioeconomy Foundation: Discovering the full potential of the Irish Bioeconomy
  • Enkarterri: New accelerating service of the bioeconomy in Euskadi
  • BioBoost: Accelerating the bioeconomy in Catalonia
  • Business Joensuu: Bioeconomy Innovation in the forest capital of Europe
  • Bioeconomy Austria: The gateway to the Austrian bioeconomy
  • Coffee, local sweets & Networking 
  • 17:30 | End of the Bioeconomy Innovation Day

How alternative proteins and new ways of forest valorisation can help the environment?

The BIT Congress (Congrés BIT in Catalan) will be held on 28–29 September 2023 in Lleida, Spain. This year’s theme is focused on “special alternative protein and forest valorisation.”

The Congrés BIT 2023 Lleida Edition brings together experts and entrepreneurs from the bioeconomy industry to explore the latest innovations and business projects. Aiming to strengthen the ecosystem of companies, technology and research centres, entrepreneurs and start-ups in the Catalan region, thereby promoting growth and progress in these key sectors.

Check out the preliminary agenda (last update: 6 July 2023):

Agenda

Day 1: Thursday (28 September 2023)

9:00–9:30 | Opening doors and accreditations

9:30–10:00 | Welcome event and inauguration of the Congrés BIT 2023 Lleida Edition

10:00–10:30 | Inaugural session

10:30–10:50 | Presentation on the capacity mapping study in alternative protein processing in Catalonia

10:50–11:15 | The vision and the role of companies in alternative protein value chains and new ways of forest valorisation

11:15–11:45 | Coffee break

11:45–12:15 | Sessions

Alternative protein (1) – Strategic vision of human nutrition: trends and challenges

New ways of forest valorisation (1) – Strategic vision of forest valorisation: trends and challenges

12:15–13:30 | Sessions

Alternative protein (2) – New raw materials for human nutrition

New ways of forest valorisation (2) – Carbon markets: perspectives, methodologies and standards for quantification

13:30–15:00 | Lunch-networking

15:00–16:15 | Sessions

Alternative protein (3) – Transformation processes and technologies

New ways of forest valorisation (3) – Forest biorefineries: the road to industrialisation

16:15–17:30 | Sustainability is profitable: bioECONOMY.

Day 2: Friday (29 September 2023)

9:30–11:00 | Services and capacities of universities and technological centres

11:00–11:30 | Coffee break

11:30–12:00 | BIOHUB CAT presentation

12:00–13:30 | Rock Stars: leaders of the bioeconomy

13:30–13:45 | Final remarks of the Congrés BIT 2023 Lleida Edition

13:45–14:00 | Closing

14:00–15:30 | Lunch-networking

16:00 | BIT Expo Conference (FIRA)

Visit the Congrés BIT 2023 website for the latest updates, news and speakers.

Looking for more events? Explore our Events page and add your favourites to your calendar.

Meet the winners of the Bioregions Open Innovation Challenge

On 3 July 2023, The European Forest Institute (EFI) announced the winners of the Bioregions Open Innovation Challenge, launched in December 2022. The three winners from Finland, Serbia and Spain will receive EUR 7,000 each to further develop their solutions. 

Here are the winners in alphabetical order: 

Biomonitoring station 

The biomonitoring station is a set of sensors and modules to collect, store and disseminate data on environmental stressors disturbing and damaging forest ecosystems. Some examples include monitoring air pollution, detecting early forest fires, and checking unwanted vehicles along forest roads. 

“This biomonitoring station aims to contribute to the integrity of forest-related data. Therefore, foresters become data providers of direct air pollution impact instead of end users. This tool can bring early warnings on agents of negative impact on forests that are closely connected to the effects of climate change,” said Dr Zoran Poduška, Institute of Forestry, Belgrade, Serbia and winner of the Open Innovation Challenge. 

Ozone sensor in a forest. Hand holding it is Zoran Poduška from Serbia and winner of the bioregions open innovation challenge
Ozone sensor from biomonitoring station. Image courtesy of Zoran Poduška.

Förecast 

Förecast is a forest intelligence tool that estimates carbon stock availability in the forest and measures other forest variables using remote sensing (LiDAR + satellite) and artificial intelligence developed by the Spanish company Föra. 

“Carbon is one of the most important forest variables nowadays; estimating forest carbon is of utmost importance to create stable markets through forest knowledge and scientific soundness,” says Iñigo Lizarralde, CEO of Föra. 

5 people in an office. 4 are chatting: 2 men and 2 women. One man is on the desk looking at a laptop screen. Föra team was one of the winners of the bioregions open innovation challenge.
Föra team. Image courtesy of Iñigo Lizarralde.

This carbon estimation tool can be used as input for forest scenarios where wood products and carbon sequestration over their life cycle are included. They also offer change detection for vegetation disturbance, allowing for transparent carbon stock monitoring – assuring the market offers verifiable carbon offsets along the established offsetting period. 

ZertiCarbon app 

ZertiCarbon, a company that offers certified carbon sink solutions using blockchain technology, is dedicated to advancing climate-smart forestry solutions, connecting forest owners with companies interested in neutralising carbon emissions.

Group of eight people in the forest next to a harvesting machine.
ZertiCarbon team. Image courtesy of Panu Torniainen.

By digitising forests and using advanced technologies like drone scanning, LiDAR, machine learning, augmented reality, and AI to analyse the forest’s carbon sinks, the Finnish company ZertiCarbon provides a system where individuals and companies can offset their carbon emissions by purchasing carbon credits. 

ZertiCarbon plans to scale up its solution by focusing on conducting research and developing carbon sink projects in Catalonia and Euskadi. 

According to co-founder and managing director Panu Torniainen, “Access to these regions allows us to establish partnerships with landowners, implement advanced technologies and create transparent and reliable carbon offsetting systems that benefit both the environment and local communities.” 

Quotes from the winners about their solutions have been edited for content and clarity. 

Sign up for the Bioregions Facility InfoFlash to receive the latest news and updates on the next Open Innovation Challenge, and follow the Facility on LinkedIn and Twitter. 

Image by Daniela from Pixabay.

Globally unique research for better fuel pellets

800 tonnes of sawdust was recently turned into fuel pellets in a globally unique test run in Sweden. That was part of a pellet research project that is being carried out on a large scale to investigate differences in quality between different raw material compositions.

Originally published on Paper Province.

By Malin Hildén

Testings are a cheap and environmentally friendly energy source made from dried and compacted sawdust from spruce and pine. Therefore, they are a valuable and important component in the transition to a fossil-free society.

In order to optimize the production and storage of pellets, a research study is now investigating whether the pellet quality is affected by the origin of the sawdust: the heartwood (coarse timber) or the sapwood (small timber).

Different drying temperatures and types of sawdust

What the researchers are investigating is whether the handling of the raw materials can contribute to making the pellets more resource-efficient. The method includes studying how low- and high-temperature drying, in combination with small and coarse timber, affects the physical properties and long-term storage.

One problem when storing fuel pellets is that they can generate spontaneous heating, forming flammable and toxic gases. The researchers aim to reduce this increased fire hazard.

Globally unique test run

In order to examine the improvement opportunities in the context of fuel pellets, some 800 tonnes of fresh small and coarse timber from pine was transported to the pellet plant of power company Härjeåns Energi in the Swedish town of Sveg. That is where the impressive test run took place.

“This is huge. Such large-scale research trials aren’t carried out anywhere else in the world. Normally, you’d go to a lab and do smaller runs,” says Magnus Persson, who is an innovation advisor and project manager at Paper Province.

What makes this volume possible is the collaboration between academia, research and industry.

“If this turns out well, it’s going to have an impact on the entire industry: everyone will be able to learn and benefit from it.”

Previous tests

The test run was the second of two major ones. The first one, completed last autumn, involved low-temperature drying. This time, however, a high-temperature dryer was used.

“The test run came out well, and now we’ll continue the measurements and analyses in order to determine the outcome,” says Michael Finell of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.

He is the project manager for InnoPels, the project where the research is conducted. It is funded by Vinnova, with the participation of Karlstad University, Paper Province, Solör Bioenergi Pellets AB, Härjeåns Energi AB and Bergkvist Siljan Skog AB.

Photo by Paper Province.

Emil Mattsson, Härjeåns, Stefan Frodeson, Karlstad University, Michael Finell, SLU, Magnus Persson, Paper Province and Workson Siwale, SLU.

Opening funding call for climate-smart forestry projects soon

FORWARDS will soon support five new projects for building new climate-smart forests and forest restoration. The total grant is EUR 700,000 with a single grant value of a maximum of EUR 150,000.

Successful submissions will be invited to start in early 2024; each project has a maximum duration of 18 months. The project will issue numerous additional calls for funding for projects with various themes throughout the remainder of the year and until it is completed.

The launch will happen at the end of July, and the call will be published on EFI’s grants webpage.

What can Google Image search results tell us about human-forest relationships?

While public perception research on forests often uses surveys and questionnaires as data collection methods, there are many other ways to inquire about how society perceives and interacts with them. These include repurposing online and social media data to understand what forests mean to people and how widely used digital platforms portray relationships between people and forests.   

Originally published on the Resilience blog.

By Rina Tsubaki

For the past few years, EFI has been experimenting with research approaches that repurpose born-digital data from the web and social media in collaboration with digital researchers from the Public Data LabKing’s College London, and DensityDesign Lab in Milan.  Alongside our project Out of the Flames, which looked at online engagement around the Amazon rainforest fires in 2019, we’ve also explored public issues and narratives around the UN COP27 Climate Conference and forest restoration through Twitter hashtags and images and YouTube videos. Yet, there are many other interesting platforms to take a closer look at, including Google, the most used search engine with over 86% global market share.  

So, what do Google search results tell us about human-forest relationships? How do they portray our connections with forests? 

As part of exploratory research in support of the SUPERB forest restoration project, a student group from the Master’s Degree in Communication Design at Politecnico di Milano, led by Gabriele Colombo (King’s College London / DensityDesign), looked at Google Images showing different life cycle stages of reforestation and other related activities (read about the course here). Using 40 keywords such as tree planting, afforestation and forest and land restoration, the group collected and manually categorised 1200 images, resulting in a beautiful digital archive called ‘Plant Forward’.

Exploring the Plant Forward image collection, it is possible to draw lines between human presence and absence in different forest lifecycle phases. The image collections under ‘wasteland’ and ‘forests’ show almost no human presence.  Although some landscapes in the images indirectly depict signs of human activities, such as roads and crop fields, human actors rarely appear in these image sets.  

Instead, human actors are visible in other lifecycle stages such as ‘sapling’.  Interestingly, these images portraying human involvement show human actors not only “regenerating” but also “cutting down” forests. 

When zooming into the images with human actors, one notices different ways people associate with forests. For example, not just people digging the soil and planting trees can be seen in these images, but also those sheltering, touching, measuring, and marking trees, indicating that forests are something people manage and care for. In addition, many images showing human hands holding or planting seedlings and saplings appear to be generic stock images used in different contexts. For example, there is a photoshopped image of a seedling growing inside a light bulb. We find image stamps and company logos, giving a sense of the commercial activities revolving around forests and forest imagery. 

Finally, we find images which suggest a diversity of people, communities and activities engaging with forests. Not only foresters and other professional practitioners are captured, but so are local communities, school children, families, women and religious groups, businessmen and military officials in different parts of the world.  

Repurposing search engine outputs can help us understand how online devices are involved in producing, framing and ordering different kinds of visual narratives about forests and human-forest relationships. You are invited to explore the Plant Forward image collections to learn more about how relations between people and forests are portrayed in one of the world’s most widely used entry points to the web. We are curious to hear what

Image: Plant Forward

5th Forest Innovation Workshop 2023 Report

Started in 2014 as a joint initiative of European regions and forest sector organizations, the 5th edition of the European Forest Innovation Workshop devoted to Inform-Prioritize-Collaborate: Cooperation of Regions on Innovation in Forest Management, Use of Wood and Forest-related Services, has taken place on 18 January 2023 (full-day workshop) at the Representation of the Free State of Bavaria to the European Union in Brussels.

The role of innovation in managing new challenges in the forest-based sector at regional level in the EU.

Documentation of Plenary and Break-out Sessions

Main objectives of the event

  • Understanding the new framework for regional innovation policies addressing the forest-based sector in Europe
  • Presenting relevant innovations from different European regions that are helping address key European policy ambitions
  • Connecting experts and practitioners to speed up knowledge flows
  • Encourage public and private collaboration at EU and regional levels to foster innovation

Download the programme

Participant list

Photos from the event

Themes

The event provided an opportunity to learn about the most recent updates on European initiatives and connect with a selection of innovative cases, presented during the 2 rounds of breakout sessions.

The themes addressed in the workshop are:

  1. Carbon market, bioeconomy, climate smart forestry and rural development
  2. Forest degradation and nature restoration
  3. Ecosystem services and better integration in forest management

Digitalization and social innovation are cross-cutting aspects contributing to the above themes.

Presentations

Plenary

Introduction to Regional Authorities Round-Table Discussion on priorities for innovation

Breakout Table 1: Carbon Market, Bioeconomy, Climate Smart Forestry and Rural Development

Breakout Table 2: Forest Degradation and Nature Restoration

Breakout Table 3: Provision of Ecosystem Services

Past editions

Catalonia joins the Bioregions Facility

The government of Catalonia is joining the Bioregions Facility – as its fourth member – through its Ministry of Climate Action, Food and Rural Agenda. Catalonia is one of Europe’s most innovative regions, has a large bioeconomy potential and is already providing valuable contributions to the Bioregions Facility. 

According to Jaume Sió, Head of the Technical Cabinet of the Ministry of Climate Action, Food and Rural Agenda of the Catalan government, “For Catalonia, becoming a member of Bioregions Facility is a firm step to continue advancing in the implementation and dissemination of the Catalan Bioeconomy Strategy 2030 (EBC 2030), especially in the fields of forestry and creation of resilient agroforestry landscapes. For us, promoting interregional cooperation is key to positioning Catalonia as a region that works to achieve a circular bioeconomy at the European level. It also offers a great opportunity to exchange experiences and successful practices with other regions, as well as strengthen the Catalan forest bioeconomy ecosystem.” 

Catalan Bioeconomy Strategy 

The Catalan Bioeconomy Strategy 2030, approved in September 2021, aims to strengthen the growth and sustainable development of the Catalan economy by promoting the production of biological resources as well as local and renewable processes. The First Action Plan 2022–2024 of the Strategy contemplates 15 Transformative Actions with a funding of over €200 million. This Plan also prioritises four value chains: 

1) Improvement in forest management and the use of forest resources. 

2) Creation of resilient agroforestry landscapes and the sustainable provision of ecosystem services. 

3) Recovery of coproducts and by-products from the food chain. 

4) Resource recovery from livestock waste and organic waste.  

In relation to the first two forest-related value chains, the strategy aims to increase the use of forest resources by 30% by 2030. This is done with a multifunctional landscape perspective and an emphasis on the agroforestry mosaic. This approach will help create and maintain more cohesive communities and more resilient landscapes, preserving biodiversity and promoting economic and social development. 

The EBC 2030 is a cross-cutting, forward-looking strategy seeking to enhance the sustainability and competitiveness of every sector involved, particularly the primary sector. It focuses on underdeveloped value chains and uses knowledge generation as a driver for change. Creating quality jobs and anchoring the population to the rural environment are also fundamental pillars of the Strategy. 

Discover the Catalan Bioeconomy Strategy 2030 factsheet

Forest bioeconomy in action 

The implementation of the bioeconomy needs to be guided by several principles; Mr. Jaume Sió highlights the following three principles: 

1) Bioeconomy should contribute to stopping the loss of biodiversity and preserving our natural heritage. We should work in favour of nature, not against it. 

2) Bioeconomy cannot compromise or compete with food production. We cannot divert our capacity to produce food to generate energy or materials. 

3) Bioeconomy is a great opportunity to create partnerships between urban and rural areas

Bioregions Facility is open to new regions 

Any European region making tangible advances towards the forest-based bioeconomy – committed to sustainable, circular actions that consider the landscape and forest resources in a holistic way – can apply to become one of the Bioregions.  

Bioeconomy perceptions of government and industry: a cross-regional comparison

The Bioregions Facility’s initiative Regional Bioeconomy Perceptions Survey, is scaling up with the Survey launched in five regions and the plan to launch the Survey in five more regions by the end of the year.

On 15 June 2022, at the ERIAFF Annual Conference, the Facility presented the Survey initiative and a cross-regional comparison of the results from four regions: North Karelia (Finland); North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany); Tuscany (Italy); and Castilla y León (Spain). This presentation has now been recorded and is available to watch to obtain an introduction to the Survey!

Does it sound interesting to asses how government and industry perceive the bioeconomy in your region? Would it be valuable to understand which bioeconomy sectors are perceived to have the highest potential for growth in your region? Do you want to get insights on improving collaboration with government and industry? The survey aims to achieve these target outcomes, among others.

Bioeconomy perceptions survey

Watch the presentation to understand better how the survey process works and the results that can be achieved.

government and industry bioeconomy perceptions survey
EFI junior expert Siebe Briers presents the survey’s goals and objectives.

Sections of the video:
0 min – Introduction
1:08 min – About the survey and process
5:13 min – Structure of the survey to six target outcomes
5:54 min – Results
22:37 min – Key objectives
24:15 min – Closing