BIO2REG workshop on funding bioeconomy transitions

Experts identify the main challenges and success factors in developing practical funding guides for regional stakeholders.

On 4 June 2024, Forschungszentrum Jülich (FZJ), its BioökonomieREVIER initiative, and the Bio-based Industries Consortium (BIC) co-organised the first BIO2REG expert workshop. The BIO2REG workshop series highlights best practices in bioeconomy model regions, emphasising the following prerequisites for successful transition: climate-neutral bio-based value chains and business models, research infrastructure and living labs, social sustainability aspects of the transition, education and funding.

The workshop engaged up to 39 participants, including funding experts, regional representatives or bioeconomy practitioners. The workshop’s primary objectives were to share success stories, identify gaps, and explore effective funding strategies for bioeconomy transitions on a regional level. Through this workshop, BIO2REG has initiated a critical discussion on developing practical guides for regions, offering concrete steps on how to fund and advance bioeconomy transitions.

Denise Gider, FZJ and the BIO2REG coordination team, along with Marco Rupp from BIC, kicked off the workshop by introducing the BIO2REG project and its consortium partner, BIC. BIC is a non-profit organisation representing the private sector in a Public-Private Partnership with the European Commission. The partnership Circular Bio-Based Europe Joint Undertaking (CBE JU) focused on strengthening the bio-based industries sector in Europe. BIC further cooperates and connects with regions in various ways, given the importance of regions to foster the bioeconomy.

The first invited speaker, Jorge Molina Villanueva (DG Research and Innovation), provided a critical funder perspective, focusing primarily on the Regional Innovation Valleys for Bioeconomy and Food Systems (RIV4BFS), which will contribute to the New European Innovation Agenda by building regional deep-tech innovation valleys, accelerating the deployment of regional bioeconomy and addressing the innovation divide within the EU. The BIO2REG project is specifically referred to as an opportunity under Horizon Europe to unlock RIV4BFSs.

The workshop then delved into the funding insights of bioeconomy model regions that foster bioeconomy transition on a regional level. Ulrich Schurr, FZJ, and the BIO2REG coordination team highlighted learnings from the initiative BioökonomieREVIER in the Rhenish mining region, Germany, initiated to compensate for the consequences of the region’s coal phase-out in 2030 and the associated job losses. An insightful account from one of the oldest European bioeconomy clusters came from Christophe Luguel (Bioeconomy For Change, B4C). B4C is a reference network for bioeconomy in France, representing more than 500 members. It was based on initiatives of farmer cooperatives in 2005 and is now funded by the French regions Grand-Est, Hauts de France and Normandie. In the last spotlight presentation, Paul Nemes shared the journey of the Swedish Paper Province, which is a business cluster within the forest bioeconomy and has been utilising its forests to shift to a fossil-free economy since 1999.

The workshop identified several main challenges in bioeconomy model regions:

  • Tailoring funding strategies and activities to diverse regional conditions
  • Securing long-term funding, continuity, and scalability
  • Navigating complex funding sources that rely on a mix of regional, national, and European funds, both public and private
  • Building trust and fostering collaboration among diverse stakeholders

Key success factors in bioeconomy model regions were also highlighted:

  • Maintaining an optimistic mindset and comfort with uncertainty
  • Keeping a long-term vision while taking quick action
  • Developing a strong regional innovation ecosystem and encouraging long-term commitment from diverse stakeholders
  • Utilising unique regional strengths and prioritising specific bioeconomy sectors
  • Combining public funding with private investment

The workshop continued into an interactive joint discussion about building trust among the stakeholders, the challenges of growing a network across Europe, and the availability of funding opportunities. The insights from this and the following BIO2REG workshops will be developed into practical guides for regional stakeholders. These guides will address the unique challenges of regions and leverage success factors identified in the workshops.

Check our Events page to explore the following BIO2REG expert workshops!