Bioeconomy

Increasing knowledge of biological processes leads to innovations well suited for addressing societal challenges. The field in which this innovation occurs has been framed as ‘the bioeconomy’. For the European Commission, “[t]he bioeconomy comprises those parts of the economy that use renewable biological resources from land and sea – such as crops, forests, fish, animals and micro-organisms – to produce food, materials and energy”.1 Envisioning the future and focusing more on biotechnology, an OECD study predicts that “[t]he bioeconomy in 2030 is likely to involve three elements: advanced knowledge of genes and complex cell processes, renewable biomass, and the integration of biotechnology applications across sectors”.2 We treat R&I on bio-based materials as well as bioenergy jointly as both sectors can be expected to have highly complementary effects, e.g. in terms of inputs and the use of bio-reactors.3 While the bioeconomy has vast potentials in terms of resource efficiency and renewable energy, there is also the danger that it is competing for land with other use forms, e.g. food and forests. Currently biomass has very low demand elasticity and its consumption thus hardly increases with income. However, the increasing use of biomass in high-tech applications will result in a higher elasticity, thus leading to a coupling of demand with income. This can be expected to increase the prices for biomass.4 Increased hunger for land - if unchecked - may lead to further loss of biodiversity and quality soil and serious risks for subsistence consumption in low-income countries. This makes the source of feedstock an important consideration: What uses are competing? How can biomass production be increased without upsetting eco-systems? Does it need to be increased or can we use it more efficiently instead?

  • 1. Horizon 2020 Work Programme 2014 - 2015. 12. Climate Action, Environment, Resource Efficiency and Raw Materials. European Commission Decision C (2015) 2453 of 17 April 2015. http://ec.europa.eu/research/participants/data/ref/h2020/wp/2014_2015/ma...
  • 2. OECD International Futures Programme. 2009. The Bioeconomy to 2030: Designing a Policy Agenda. Paris: OECD., p. 19
  • 3. See e.g. Ntaikou, I., C. Kourmentza, E. C. Koutrouli, K. Stamatelatou, A. Zampraka, M. Kornaros, and G. Lyberatos. 2009. ‘Exploitation of Olive Oil Mill Wastewater for Combined Biohydrogen and Biopolymers Production’. Bioresource Technology, Second International Conference on Engineering for Waste Valorisation (WasteEng2008, 100 (15): 3724–30. doi:10.1016/j.biortech.2008.12.001.
  • 4. Steinberger, Julia K., and Fridolin Krausmann. 2011. ‘Material and Energy Productivity’. Environmental Science & Technology 45 (4): 1169–76., pp. 1173f.

Knowledge development and diffusion

Patents in Bioeconomy

Patents can help protect and realize innovations within bioeconomy.

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Patents in Bioeconomy per 1000 researchers

Patents can help protect and realize innovations within bioeconomy.

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Patents in Bioeconomy per mill. inhab.

Patents can help protect and realize innovations within bioeconomy.

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Scientific publications - Bioeconomy

Publications serve as proxy for research and knowledge diffusion activity.

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Scientific publications per 1000 researchers - Bioeconomy

Publications serve as proxy for research and knowledge diffusion activity.

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Scientific publications per mill. inhab. - Bioeconomy

Publications serve as proxy for research and knowledge diffusion activity.

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Influence on the direction of search

Domestic material consumption - Biomass

High biomass endowments can make bio-based solutions more attractive. At the same time, increased biomass consumption also runs risk of rivalry with other important use forms.

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Environmental policy stringency

The EPS is an index of environmental policy instruments primarily related to climate and air pollution. Amongst other things it covers emission limits, emissions trading and feed-in tariffs. Such policy instruments can create more demand for renewable and cleaner energy in the form of biofuels.

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GHG emissions per capita

The right kind of bio-based solutions can help to reduce GHG emissions.

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GHG emissions per capita - Agriculture sector

High emissions from the agricultural sector point to the potential contribution of biological solutions to climate change mitigation.

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Legitimation of technologies

Eurobarometer survey - Environmental concern

Citizens’ environmental concern can legitimise but also delegitimise bio-based solutions, depending on their perceived sustainability impact.

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Resource mobilization

BERD Agriculture, forestry & fishing

Private research and development expenditure into agriculture and forestry supports innovation in the bioeconomy.

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BERD Manufacture of wood, cork, straw & plaiting products (except furniture)

Private research and development expenditure into the manufacture of products from renewable organic materials supports innovation in the bioeconomy.

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Early stage investment - Bioeconomy (GDP PPP)

Investments in relevant companies mobilise financial resources.

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Late stage investment - Bioeconomy (GDP PPP)

Investments in relevant companies mobilise financial resources.

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Public R&D spending - Energy sector (PPS per capita)

This may benefit the generation of bioeconomy knowledge.

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Public R&D spending - Energy sector (share of GBAORD)

This may benefit the generation of bioeconomy knowledge.

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Public R&D spending - Environment sector (PPS per capita)

This may benefit the generation of bioeconomy knowledge.

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Public R&D spending - Environment sector (share of GBAORD)

This may benefit the generation of bioeconomy knowledge.

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