Bioeconomy Science Center
Research and cooperation for a sustainable bioeconomy
Bioeconomy Science Center
Research and cooperation for a sustainable bioeconomy
FocusLab Transform2Bio

Integrated Transformation Processes and Their Regional Implementations: Structural Change from Fossil Economy to Bioeconomy


In the coming years the lignite mining region the Rheinische Revier will undergo significant transformative change. To mitigate the impacts of structural change, the objective is to turn the region into a model region for a sustainable bioeconomy. This process creates a unique opportunity for society as it will provide rare insights into the way such transformation processes work. In addition, valuable knowledge for the future will be gained.


Fig. 1: Quelle: Forschungszentrum Jülich/Sascha Kreklau

The Rheinische Revier is the largest interconnected lignite mining area in Europe. At the same time, this region pursues the objective of becoming a model region for a sustainable bioeconomy in the coming years. A regional transformation process of this magnitude, however, is not only a question of technological and economic progress but also inheres complex social changes.

In the competence platform project Transform2Bio we set focus on understanding how such a social transformation process works - and what we can learn from it. Even though the Rheinische Revier as a model region is embedded in a particularly dynamic context, some of the underlying general conditions and processes are not limited to the region but can also provide valuable insights far beyond the Rheinische Revier. Comparable regional transformations are taking place across the world - from Lusatia (Germany) to New Zealand.

Our research thus addresses, for example, the question of how to balance the diverging interests of many societal groups. Perspectives, for instance, between companies, farmers and citizens' associations, can differ fundamentally. In order to help shape transformation processes jointly and successfully, inclusive processes and new ideas are required for reaching consensus across society.

Abb. 2: Quelle: Forschungszentrum Jülich/Sascha Kreklau

This objective is also very closely related to the question of stakeholder involvement of different societal groups. However,the mere knowledge of different perspectives does not automatically lead to their balanced consideration. From experience, for example with the Energiewende in Germany, we know that some forms of participation in decision-making processes are promising – while others are not. In the worst case, a misguided (or lack of) involvement of the actors can lead to societal groups turning away from the transformation of their region or even attempting to block it. Thus, we research ways and means of collectively implementing a sustainable bioeconomy.


The agricultural sector provides a particularly interesting example as farmers, the regional supplier of biomass, constitute a key actor for the success of a sustainable bioeconomy. Farmers are regularly faced with complex decisions and often have to plan many years in advance, as the cultivation of certain crops can leave its mark on the soil for years to come. Added to this are changing demands on humans and nature due to the impacts of climate change - but also exciting opportunities that come with new technologies and digitalization. Further, demands for sustainable forms of cultivation and resilient supply chains are becoming ever more important for society as a whole, prompting reforms of the complex political framework. It is therefore vital to understand what factors are central to farmers and what considerations guide their decisions. Equally important is the question of how the produced biomass is subsequently used. Farmers are interested in knowing to what extent their produce is in demand by consumers and industry. At the same time, however, industry needs appropriate conditions to produce both innovative and sustainable products.

Fig. 3: Wordcloud based on Wirtschafts- und Strukturprogramm für das Rheinische Zukunftsrevier 1.0 / Source: Zukunftsagentur Rheinisches Revier / Sandra Venghaus and Florian Siekmann

As discussed, a multitude of interests and interdependencies must be taken into account in order to make decisions in a commonly comprehensible and transparent way. In order to support decision makers in such complex decisions, we bundle the collective knowledge of the stakeholders and use a multi-criteria decision analysis as a methodical approach. This enables us to understand and take into account which decision criteria are of particular importance for different stakeholders and how these preferences influence the finding of common compromises.

The knowledge gained from this dynamic interplay is of enormous importance to ensure that we, as a society, continue to achieve our common goals in the future.

Thus, project results are meant to contribute to the success in current and future transformation processes – in the Rheinische Revier and beyond.


Transform2Bio Publications and working papers


Further reading
BioökonomieREVIER - Model Region for Sustainable Bioeconomy in the Rheinische Revier



Project leader

Prof. Dr. Sandra Venghaus
IEK-STE Systems Analysis and Technology Evaluation (IEK-STE), Forschungszentrum Jülich

Beteiligte Core Groups

Dr. Wilhelm Kuckshinrichs, Prof. Dr. Sandra Venghaus, Mirko Dallendörfer, Sophia Dieken, Florian Siekmann
IEK–STE Systems Analysis and Technology Evaluation, Forschungszentrum Jülich

Prof. Dr. Jan Börner, Dr. Sascha Stark
ILR – Economics of Sustainable Land Use and Bioeconomy, Universität Bonn

Prof. Dr. Joachim von Braun
ZEF – Economic and Technological Change, Universität Bonn

PD Dr. Wolfgang Britz, Dr. Till Kuhn
ILR – Economic Modelling of Agricultural Systems, Universität Bonn

Prof. Dr. Stefanie Bröring, Simon Ohlert, Anna Waßenhoven
ILR – Technology, Innovation Management and Entrepreneurshi, Universität Bonn

Prof. Dr. Monika Hartmann, Janine Macht, Jeanette Klink-Lehmann
ILR – Agricultural and Food Market Research, Universität Bonn

Prof. Dr. Thomas Heckelei, Dr. Yaghoob Jafari
ILR – Economic and Agricultural Policy, Universität Bonn

Prof. Dr. Silke Hüttel, Dr. Stefan Seifert
ILR – Production Economics, Universität Bonn

Prof. Dr. Ulrich Schurr, Dr. Leonie Göbel
IBG-2 Plant Sciences, Forschungszentrum Jülich

Prof. Dr. Grit Walther, Ali Abdelshafy
Chair of Operations Management, RWTH Aachen


Funding period

01.09.2019 – 31.08.2022



The total budget of Transform2Bio is € 2.399.949. Transform2Bio is part of the NRW-Strategieprojekt BioSC and thus funded by the Ministry of Culture and Science of the German State of North Rhine-Westphalia.