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A network of European bioeconomy clusters to advance bio-based solutions in the primary production sector

The action will stimulate adoption of the business models by the relevant stakeholders (especially primary producers), with a clear emphasis on agriculture and forestry. It will achieve a sound geographical balance[[In terms of covering diverse agricultural areas in Europe.]], and may cover all primary biomass sectors. Proposals should establish a pilot network of national/regional ‘bioeconomy clusters’ gathering relevant actors in the bioeconomy (e.g. EU, national/regional policy and funding bodies, industry, academia, farmer associations and cooperatives, industry, researchers, civil society and NGOs)[[Proposers should be aware of the self-assessment tool for EU regions to assess their investment readiness, see &]]. These clusters should develop appropriate strategies for the deployment of bio-based solutions involving the primary production sector, tailored to regional conditions and assets, and exploiting synergies between policy instruments, such as the common agricultural policy, regional funds and relevant national programmes.

At a minimum, the action should help address:

  • lack of awareness and practical knowledge among stakeholders (especially primary biomass producers) as to the potential of sustainable business models in the bio-based sector to create economic, environmental and societal value through the production and/or use of hitherto unexploited bio-based resources;
  • low degree of cooperation and networking at all levels; and;
  • inadequate transfer of technology and exploitation of innovation, which too often impede uptake of these business models.

To avoid overlaps, this action will build on the state of the art including past and ongoing EU-funded projects[[e.g. topics RUR-09-2018 (“Realising the potential of regional and local bioeconomies”), and RUR-10-2019 (“Circular bio-based business models for rural communities”).]].

The Commission considers that proposals requesting an EU contribution of around EUR 2 million would allow this challenge to be addressed appropriately. This does not preclude the submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Inclusive and sustainable bio-based business models (e.g. cooperatives, producer associations and higher-level structures such as clusters) offer a major opportunity for communities to combine the local creation of value, societal engagement and environmental protection.

This may lead to:

  • reduction of the negative environmental impacts of unsustainable production and consumption patterns;
  • greater circularity of local resources;
  • better use of eco-system services and goods originating in primary sectors (e.g. high biodiversity and measures to meet climate targets).

However, the adoption of such models is often hampered by factors at the level of stakeholders such as insufficient awareness, cooperation and innovation exploitation. The challenge entails developing strategies that deliver the above-mentioned principles, while mobilising stakeholders to adopt sustainable and inclusive business models, based on technologies and under-valorised or under-utilised resources, suitable for use on a small scale and easy to replicate and adapt to local conditions.

The action will implement the 2018 EU bioeconomy strategy[[Action 3.1.1. (“Mobilise public and private stakeholders, in research, demonstration and deployment of sustainable, inclusive and circular bio-based solutions”).]].

More specifically, it will:

Short/medium term:

  • contribute to the establishment of fully integrated and diversified business models and value chains in ‘bio-based sectors’ by mobilising a wider and more inclusive set of primary biomass actors;
  • develop and disseminate practical recommendations based on concrete success stories from agriculturally diverse areas of Europe;
  • raise awareness among the stakeholders in the bio-based sector (including primary producers) of sustainable, inclusive and circular bioeconomy objectives including the underpinning EU policy objectives on climate targets and biodiversity protection, of opportunities linked to the sector;

Long term:

  • contribute to the creation of skilled jobs in rural economies, and increase and diversify income for primary biomass producers, thus raising awareness among policymakers and in society at large of the opportunities in the bio-based sector;
  • stimulate local value creation, circularity and environmental and socio-economic sustainability for easy replication in rural areas; and
  • establish a dynamic enabling framework for the deployment of bioeconomies, combining the sectoral and territorial dimensions.