Boosting innovation in European bioeconomy

Originally published on Open access government

New projects to drive innovation within the European bioeconomy being funded by the CBE JU are outlined here

The Circular Bio-based Europe Joint Undertaking (CBE JU), a €2 billion public-private partnership advancing competitive circular bio-based industries in Europe, has signed its first 21 grant agreements this year.

Two hundred ninety-three beneficiaries from 27 countries will receive €116 million in funding to develop new bio-based products and materials, first-of-their-kind production facilities, and innovative processes.

The new projects will boost the competitiveness and increase the resilience of Europe’s bio-based economy by using often-underutilised resources to produce consumer products and industrial solutions to replace fossil-based ones. This will reduce the EU’s reliance on strategic imports and create new value chains, business opportunities, and green jobs, particularly in rural areas.

Two new biorefineries for high-value products

Two new flagship projects will set up innovative industrial biorefineries to support the development of the European bio-based economy, focusing on the food and feed sectors.

SUSTAINEXT

SUSTAINEXT(1) will turn an existing production plant into a circular biorefinery that will produce healthy plant- based extracts for food, food supplements, animal feed, fertiliser, cosmetics, and chemicals. The biorefinery will create new jobs in Extremadura, a rural region of Spain, and bring value to waste from food industries.

The proposed industrial model boasts the integration of twelve value chains that span from primary producers to end-users. “The model is easily replicable, adaptable to feedstocks of varying types and quality and able to run on renewable energy”, highlighted the Project Coordinator José María Pinilla.(1)

SYLPLANT

SYLPLANT(2) will build a plant near Lyon, France, producing 10,000 tonnes of protein-rich food and feed ingredients annually. The project will contribute to replacing animal proteins and other high-carbon-footprint plant-based protein sources, such as soy, with novel high-quality ingredients deriving from agricultural and forestry residues, leading to healthier and more sustainable diets for animals and humans.

The project will develop several innovative, nutritious, sustainable food products, pet food, and fish farming feed prototypes containing the ingredient. The CBE JU- funded SYLPLANT project “will draw up a roadmap to build even larger plants, making the vision of creating food from underused local resources a reality,” said the Project Coordinator Marc Chevrel.(2)

Advancing green solutions for many bioeconomy sectors

CBE JU funding will also make possible the development of products and applications for a range of other sectors, including transport, construction, packaging, and textiles. Among the resources that will be used are agricultural residues, paper production side-streams and municipal solid waste, terrestrial and aquatic plants, and wood residues.

Actions range from cultivating biomass on marginal land to produce bio-based fibres and soil revitalisation to capturing CO2 emissions from wastewater treatment plants and transforming them into high-performance plastics.

Some examples of the new projects include:

ROBOCOOP-EU and BRILIAN

ROBOCOOP-EU(3) and BRILIAN(4), with €4.7 million and €4.8 million in funding, respectively, will tap into agricultural waste streams to develop new cooperative regional business models. This will offer new commercial opportunities in rural areas, leading to job creation and a more diverse bio-based product portfolio.

A university and a research centre lead the projects, integrating primary producers and commercial companies, to diversify farmers’ sources of income and reduce economic risks.

SynoProtein

SynoProtein(5) has been granted €5 million to formulate a sustainable process that will convert residue from sawmills into single-cell proteins for fish feed and produce biochar for animal feed while capturing CO2.

Suppose this ground-breaking circular system developed by a Danish small business is proven effective. In that case, it has the potential to recover 160,000 tonnes of forestry residue and produce 120,000 tonnes of fish and animal feed annually. This could be valued at €175 million if implemented on a large scale.(5)

REDYSIGN

REDYSIGN(6) will use €4.4 million of CBE JU funding to create wood-based fresh meat packaging containing sensors to prevent premature food spoilage and an efficient recycling process. The project consortium has established collaborations between organisations from technological companies to supermarket chains to develop a viable, bio-based, circular substitute for fresh meat packaging.(6)

THERMOFIRE

THERMOFIRE(7) has been awarded approximately €4.5 million to produce bio-based, flame-retardant materials for the automotive, aerospace and textile sectors using feedstocks such as cellulose and flax. The materials will be lighter and less expensive than their fossil-based counterparts while maintaining the performance levels required in demanding conditions.

In economic terms, the CBE JU-funded THERMOFIRE project aims to lower the cost of flame-retardant materials by shortening production times and increasing the market share of bio-based composites.(7)

Take a look at all the new projects and discover how CBE JU funding is advancing a competitive European bioeconomy.

Ground-breaking production at various scales

The new CBE JU-funded projects are split into four actions, encompassing activities and tasks ranging from establishing ground-breaking production facilities to developing coordination and support systems.

  • Two Flagship Innovation Actions will receive €28 million to build first-of-their-kind industrial-scale facilities.
  • Eight Innovation Actions will obtain €41 million to establish demonstration-scale production systems and business models.
  • Ten Research and Innovation Actions will receive
    €44 million to develop new materials, products and ingredients from renewable and biological resources.
  • One Coordination and Support Action has been granted €2.9 million to develop digital monitoring tools to assess bio-based industrial systems’ environmental and social impact.

Innovation in European bioeconomy

CBE JU Acting Executive Director Nicoló Giacomuzzi-Moore said: “I am confident that these
new projects will make a vital contribution to advancing the bio-based sector in Europe and driving forward the transition to a sustainable, resource-efficient and circular bio-based economy.

I am also very pleased that, with these grant agreements, we can strengthen some European bioeconomy areas, such as producing bio-based alternative food and feed ingredients, flame-retardant materials, smart food packaging, and alternative bio-based platform chemicals.

Lastly, I would like to highlight the high SME participation in the CBE JU projects – around 40% of all participants – which confirms the important role of SMEs in driving innovation to the market in the bio-based sector.”

References

  1. https://www.cbe.europa.eu/projects/sustainext
  2. https://www.cbe.europa.eu/projects/sylplant
  3. https://www.cbe.europa.eu/projects/robocoop-eu
  4. https://www.cbe.europa.eu/projects/brilian
  5. https://www.cbe.europa.eu/projects/synoprotein
  6. https://www.cbe.europa.eu/projects/redysign
  7. https://www.cbe.europa.eu/projects/thermofire

Perceptions on the bioeconomy in the Basque Country

The Bioregions Facility launched Perceptions on the bioeconomy survey in the Basque Country, Spain, from April to July 2022 in Spanish and Basque.

The survey targeted different groups within government and industry to understand how they perceive the bioeconomy, its benefits, and its challenges.

Learn more about the Government and industry bioeconomy perceptions survey and ways to implement the survey in your region.

Content: survey report government and industry perceptions on the Bioeconomy in the Basque Country

Author(s): Siebe Briers, Inazio Martinez de Arano

Year: 2022

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Perceptions on the bioeconomy in Flanders

The Bioregions Facility launched Perceptions on the bioeconomy survey in Flanders, Belgium, from October to December 2022 in the local language, Dutch.

The survey targeted different groups within government and industry to understand how they perceive the bioeconomy, its benefits, and its challenges.

Learn more about the Government and industry bioeconomy perceptions survey and ways to implement the survey in your region.

Content: survey report on government and industry perceptions on the bioeconomy in Flanders, Belgium

Author(s): Siebe Briers, Inazio Martinez de Arano, Ronit Bohra, Jasmine Versyck, Gudrun Van Langenhove, Hanna Van Renterghem

Year: 2023

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Perceptions on the bioeconomy in North Rhine-Westphalia

The Bioregions Facility launched Perceptions on the bioeconomy survey in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, from December 2021 to February 2022.

The survey targeted different groups within government and industry to understand how they perceive the bioeconomy, its benefits, and its challenges.

Learn more about the Government and industry bioeconomy perceptions survey and ways to implement the survey in your region.

Content: survey report government and industry perceptions on the Bioeconomy in North Rhine-Westphalia

Author(s): Siebe Briers, Inazio Martinez de Arano, Stefanie Wieland, Martin Schwarz

Year: 2023

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Expression of interest: become a satellite event at the Bioeconomy Changemakers Festival 2024

Bioeconomy Changemakers Festival

The ‘Bioeconomy Changemakers Festival’ is an event organised by the European Commission, in collaboration with the EU Bioeconomy Youth Ambassadors. It aims to engage youth as drivers of the transformative change required in view of the multiple challenges the EU is facing today, and to unlock the full potential of the bioeconomy.

Expression of interest

The European Commission invites anyone organising an event linking youth with bioeconomy innovation to express their interest in becoming a satellite event of the “Bioeconomy Changemakers Festival” in March 2024!

  • Complete the survey for expression of interest by 10 September 2023, 15:00 CET.
  • If you have questions, send an email to RTD-BIOECONOMY@ec.europa.eu 

Check out the benefits and objectives of the Bioeconomy Changemakers Festival by clicking the link below.

Interest in showing your project or solution to key stakeholders in the bioeconomy? Check out this expression of interest call to showcase your bioeconomy solution at the Bioeconomy Innovation Day 2023 in Bilbao, Spain.

Image: Created with Designer.

Perceptions on the bioeconomy in Tuscany

The Bioregions Facility launched Perceptions on the bioeconomy survey in Tuscany, Italy, from December 2021 to January 2022.

The survey targeted different groups within government and industry to understand how they perceive the bioeconomy, its benefits, and its challenges.

Learn more about the Government and industry bioeconomy perceptions survey and ways to implement the survey in your region.

Content: survey report on government and industry perceptions on the bioeconomy in Tuscany, Italy

Author(s): Siebe Briers, Inazio Martinez de Arano, Venla Wallius, Fabio Boscaleri

Year: 2022

Learn more

Perceptions on the bioeconomy in North Karelia

The Bioregions Facility launched the Perceptions on the bioeconomy survey in North Karelia, Finland, from September to November 2021. 

The survey targeted different groups within government and industry to understand how they perceive the bioeconomy, its benefits, and its challenges.

Learn more about the Government and industry bioeconomy perceptions survey and ways to implement the survey in your region.

Content: survey report on government and industry perceptions on the bioeconomy in North Karelia, Finland

Author(s): Siebe Briers, Inazio Martinez de Arano, Venla Wallius, Milla Suomalainen

Year: 2022

Learn more

Perceptions on the bioeconomy in Central Bohemian Region

The Bioregions Facility launched the Perceptions on the bioeconomy survey in the Central Bohemian Region, Czech Republic, September–October 2022 in the local language, Czech.

The survey targeted different groups within government and industry to understand how they perceive the bioeconomy, its benefits, and its challenges.

Learn more about the Government and industry bioeconomy perceptions survey and ways to implement the survey in your region.

Content: survey report on government and industry perceptions on the bioeconomy in Central Bohemian Region, Czech Republic.

Author(s): Siebe Briers, Inazio Martinez de Arano, Radek Rinn

Year: 2023

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Perceptions on the bioeconomy in Catalonia

The Bioregions Facility launched, in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Food of Catalonia, Spain, a survey in Catalonia targeting government, industry and research sectors from 29 September to 1 December 2022 in Catalan.

The survey sought to understand how these sectors perceive the bioeconomy, its benefits, and its challenges. Some of the key findings are the following:

  • Participants perceive the bioeconomy as a promising economic model highly related to a circular economy and providing several environmental benefits.
  • Bioeconomy is perceived to be highly linked to circularity, biomass use for multiple purposes, and sustainable land management.
  • Catalan business and policy actors suggest that bioenergy is the region’s bioeconomy sector with the highest potential for growth.
  • Participants indicate that the government and industry are equally responsible for research, development, and innovation investments.
  • According to respondents, the bioeconomy has the strongest goal alignment with climate change mitigation & adaptation, circular economy, clean energy, and rural development. Technological innovation and biodiversity conservation are other policy areas with very high overlap with bioeconomy.

Learn more about the Government and industry bioeconomy survey and ways to implement the survey in your region.

Perceptions on the bioeconomy in Catalonia, Spain

Content: a bioeconomy report targeting government and industry in Catalonia, Spain

Author(s): Siebe Briers, Inazio Martinez de Arano

Year: 2023

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Koli Forum 2023

Join Koli Forum 2023

Europe’s cities, regions, industries and natural resources face significant changes; preparations for the future, routed in a systemic circular bioeconomy, should start now.

This calls for a holistic system of sustainable change, including long-sighted and sustainable land use for today’s future, sustainable choices of discerning citizens, with business and research mainstreaming innovation and rethinking services with society at its centre. In this transition towards a systemic circular bioeconomy, forests and society play a key role.

These topics will be discussed in Koli Forum 2023 on 11–12 October 2023. Save the date and be on the lookout for the registration open during the summer!

Check the programme and registration here.

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.

Perceptions on the bioeconomy in South Ostrobothnia

The Bioregions Facility launched the Perceptions on the bioeconomy survey in South Ostrobothnia, Finland, from December 2022 to February 2023.

The survey targeted different groups within government and industry to understand how they perceive the bioeconomy, its benefits, and its challenges.

Learn more about the Government and industry bioeconomy perceptions survey and ways to implement the survey in your region.

Content: survey report on government and industry perceptions on the bioeconomy in South Ostrobothnia, Finland

Author(s): Siebe Briers, Inazio Martinez de Arano, Liisa-Maija Hurme, Mari Väänänen

Year: 2023

Learn more