Bioeconomy Science Center
Research and cooperation for a sustainable bioeconomy

Bioeconomy Science Center
Research and cooperation for a sustainable bioeconomy

Economy and social implications of the bioeconomy

A sustainable bioeconomy requires an account of the economic impact and social implications of production and processing.

This is especially relevant considering that the current broadening of the utilization spectrum of biomass beyond the classical domains of food and feed is accompanied by a sharp increase in their demand. Causes for the increased demand are population growth, the rise of per capita income, and the concomitant changes in food consumption habits in developing and emerging countries. The consequences are dramatic changes in the scarcity of and relationship between food and feed, changes which trigger multiple adaptive mechanisms. Additionally, greater price volatility, resulting from the dependency on global economic cycles, raises the risks for all stakeholders involved. Furthermore, expanding global trade, the international exchange of plants and animals, also increases the risk of transmitting pathogens and pests, which has happened repeatedly over the last years. Therefore, product quality and safety are now of greater concern and also reflect changing societal preferences. The quality of the production process is also increasingly relevant given its close connection to the goals of sustainability and resource stewardship. An integrated view of the bioeconomy is vital in the context of a systems approach.

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Research topics

The main research topics encompass the following issues:

  • Effects of global and regional developments. The socioeconomic framework and conditions of the bioeconomy are influenced by a number of factors including but not limited to: evolution of demand and its consequences on the changes in relationships of scarcity; impact of economic, agricultural, and environmental politics; changing societal preferences.
  • Production economy. This topic addresses the issues related to a production economy starting with agricultural production and passing through each step of the processing chain (for example, cost structures of different technologies considering constraints related to the location, size, and organizational form of an enterprise as well as market, business, and financial risks).
  • Environmental and resource economy.Environmental factors and available resources have an impact on the bioeconomy. This topic includes, for example, the analysis of positive and negative external effects, the opportunities for integrating them internally, and issues regarding ecological and economical sustainability.
  • Organization and management of production chains. Because of their complexity, bioeconomic systems are usually organized as process chains or networks from the perspective of the division of labor. Thus, flows of material and information are the origin of information asymmetries, which, in addition to general uncertainties, often trigger malfunctions in the system with fatal consequences. To avoid these malfunctions, the development of adequate organizational structures and management concepts are necessary.
  • Consumer attitude and acceptance. A bioeconomy can only be sustainable when products as well as production processes are highly accepted. For this reason, it is important to account for consumer attitudes, the origin of these attitudes, and their implications for the acceptance of the respective technologies.

List of all BioSC Core Groups