Research • Educate • Connect
Towards a sustainable bioeconomy

Research • Educate • Connect
Towards a sustainable bioeconomy

Final workshop and brochure on the BioSC FocusLab Transform2Bio

Photo: Forschungszentrum Jülich/Sascha Kreklau

Since 2019, the FocusLab Transform2Bio has analysed the regional conditions of the Rheinische Revier, developed possible transformation pathways towards a sustainable bioeconomy and investigated how divergent interests of different social groups can be brought together. In 2022, the project was successfully closed with a brochure and a workshop.

In the Rheinische Revier, the largest contiguous lignite mining region in Europe, the German government's decision to phase out coal in 2019 has initiated a structural change that offers a unique opportunity to shape regional implementation options towards a sustainable bioeconomy. The accompanying necessary transformations of existing resource systems, value networks, business models, infrastructures and governance systems formed the thematic framework for the BioSC FocusLab Transform2Bio, which ran from September 2019 to December 2022.

Photo: Forschungszentrum Jülich

At the final workshop on 1 December 2022, the results of all work packages were presented and discussed with external guests. After the keynote speech by Denise Gider from the coordination office BioökonomieREVIER Rheinland, the results on the societal discourse and the drivers and potentials of regional bioeconomic transformation were presented. The general public still knows little about the concept of the bioeconomy, and a differentiated debate in society as a whole exists only in rudimentary form. While the perspective of politics has broadened in recent years towards overarching sustainability goals, the discourse in German-language media is still very much focused on research and innovation. However, the development of regional bioeconomy clusters is not only driven by technological innovations, but also needs interest and approval among the population and consumers, knowledge transfer, stakeholder networks as well as regionally specific information and funding programmes. The potential for innovative use of biogenic residual flows is considerable in NRW.

Photo: Forschungszentrum Jülich

The options and perspectives of different stakeholders were the next overarching topic. A key sector for the transformation to a sustainable bioeconomy is agriculture. Numerous farmers in the Rhineland area have converted their farms to more diverse crops in recent years. The decision to do so is largely dependent on the available knowledge, both in terms of the economic viability of the options and the positive ecological effects. For start-ups and established companies, interdisciplinary cooperation as well as flexibility in terms of business models are crucial in order to be able to identify and take opportunities of bio-based innovations. Studies on the acceptance in the local population based on the example of biorefineries and aquaponics plants showed that the local acceptance of biorefineries in the Rheinische Revier in particular is still quite low. This proves the need to focus even more on communication and participation in the future.

Photo: Forschungszentrum Jülich

The last presentation session of the day focused on the development and analysis of possible transformation paths. The investigation of possible biobased supply chains in NRW showed that the use of biomass from the Rheinische Revier can be made economically efficient. Potential improvements in land use were investigated with an eco-efficiency analysis. Modelling showed that new technologies such as the greenRelease technology developed in the BioSC have considerable potential to contribute to a sustainable bioeconomy in the Rheinische Revier.

At the end of the workshop, Ann-Kathrin Wagner presented the Straubing Biocampus before the participants were invited to the exhibition in the “BioökonomieMobil” of the BioeconomieREVIER coordination office.

Results brochure: Transformation Monitor of the Bioeconomy 2022 (in German)

The results on the societal discourse were already published in a brochure in August 2022. The "Transformation Monitor of the Bioeconomy 2022" (in German) provides an overview of current developments and expectations for the bioeconomy in Germany, especially in the Rhineland. It is available for download on the BioSC homepage.

Download the brochure


09:30 Registration
10:00 Welcome and Introduction
Sandra Venghaus, Forschungszentrum Jülich / RWTH Aachen
10:15 Keynote
Denise Gider, Forschungszentrum Jülich / Koordinierungsstelle BioökonomieREVIER Rheinland

Session 1: Framing the Sustainable Bioeconomy

The concept of bioeconomy in research and public debate: From knowledge economy to sustainability strategy
Sophia Dieken, Forschungszentrum Jülich

Bioeconomic transformation at regional scale: Understanding drivers and identifying potentials
Jochen Dürr, University of Bonn

Questions & Answers

11:30 Coffee break

Session 2: Stakeholder Profiling and Visioning

Farmers in the transformation: Explaining the adoption of crop-diversity
Mirko Dallendörfer, Forschungszentrum Jülich

Companies – technologies, strategies and networks
Anna Waßenhoven / Simon Ohlert, Ruhr University Bochum (formerly University of Bonn)

Exploring citizens‘ and consumers‘ acceptance of bio-based innovations
Janine Macht, University of Bonn

Questions & Answers

12:45 Lunch

Session 3: Transformation Trajectories and Assessment

Assessing selected bioeconomy adaptations across scales
Saskia Wolff / Till Kuhn / Yaghoob Jafari, University of Bonn

Designing bio-based supply chains in North Rhine-Westphalia
Ali Abdelshafy, RWTH Aachen

Regional transformation trajectoriesand the perspectives of stakeholders
Florian Siekmann / Pia Hilgert, Forschungszentrum Jülich

Questions & Answers

14:45 Coffee break

Impulse lecture: Future Research Needs
Ann-Kathrin Wagner, Biocampus Straubing

15:20 Closing Remarks
Sandra Venghaus, Forschungszentrum Jülich / RWTH Aachen
  Visit of the "BioökonomieMOBIL"
Anke Krüger, Koordinierungsstelle BioökonomieREVIER Rheinland