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Proposals shall foster cooperation and networking between relevant actors at all levels, so that regional bio-based economies can take off, promote open innovation approaches, and ensure adequate knowledge exchange within and among regions[[Including the establishment of links with relevant initiatives, such as e.g. BIOEAST or the Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU).]]. Emphasis shall be put on increasing the capacities of regional/local authorities and stakeholders, especially in regions with high potential (e.g. underused biomass streams, human capacities), but that have a low number of established biorefineries. Proposals shall ensure proper support and guidance in developing regional strategies and roadmaps[[These should go beyond basic approaches and consider concepts such as circularity, the sustainability of the biomass supply, the optimisation of value creation (cascade use of biomass), the integration of biorefineries into existing or new agricultural and industrial value chains, or demand-side developments. Use of existing tools, such as the <a href=""http://5.135.165.138:8080/html/"">Self-Assessment Tool</a> developed by the <a href=""http://www.ecrn.net/documents/CO2_Demonstrator_Workshop_Ignacio_Martin.pdf"">European Sustainable Chemical Support Services</a>, is encouraged.]] through participative approaches, adapted to the local conditions and biomass sources[[Originating in sectors such as e.g. agriculture, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture, industry, waste management, etc.]]. These shall also include avenues to address the education and information gap on key issues related to sustainability, to increase R&I capacities and to improve the generation of innovation, making best use of the various funding streams available[[Notably by creating synergies among the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF), Horizon 2020, private funds, etc.]] and establishing synergies with relevant policies and programmes, notably those related to rural and regional development, and related Smart Specialisation Strategy implementing bodies.

Proposals shall address the different bio-based business models available for stakeholders and policy-makers, with a specific attention paid to models that could be deployed at a smaller scale in rural areas. Their economic (growth and jobs), social and environmental potential, as well as their advantages and disadvantages compared to larger and more complex models, shall be established.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of up to EUR 3 million would allow this specific scope to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude the submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Bioeconomy is a major opportunity for regional and local communities. Despite broad political agreement, the potential of many European regions to develop a thriving circular bio-based economy using their own resources remains largely untapped[[This is particularly the case in 'moderate/modest innovator' countries according to the European Innovation Scoreboard (http://ec.europa.eu/growth/industry/innovation/facts-figures/scoreboards_en). Regions in central and eastern EU Member States are a clear example, as shown by the conclusions of the Bratislava Bioeconomy Conference under the Slovak Presidency of the Council of EU (2016), the Lodz Declaration of Bioregions (2016), the outcome of the meeting of the ministers of agriculture of the Visegrad Group extended by Bulgaria, Romania and Slovenia (GV4 + 3) of 26 October 2016, and the findings of the recent study ""Mapping of EU Member States' / regions' research & innovation plans & strategies for smart specialisation (RIS3) on bioeconomy"", and the Danubionet Bioeconomy capacity building survey under the FP7 Danube-INCO.net project.]].

Many factors contribute to this situation, including lack of awareness and practical knowledge among regional/local authorities and stakeholders, low degree of cooperation and networking at all levels, insufficient involvement of local/regional stakeholders in drawing up bioeconomy strategies, or inadequate technology transfer and exploitation of innovation.

New, sustainable technology options or business models suitable for local deployment are needed, as current integrated biorefinery models are predominantly based on complex technologies and are difficult to finance, so remain inaccessible to many players.

In the framework of the EU Bioeconomy Strategy, the impact of the proposals will be assessed on the basis of:

  • Increased capacity of regional/local policy makers and stakeholders to structure their bioeconomy and to support the emergence of a thriving bio-based sector. Adequate knowledge and best practice exchange and networking within and among regions, across the EU;
  • Improved capacity of policy makers and stakeholders to make informed decisions, based on a thorough knowledge of the different business models, their respective advantages and disadvantages, and the best approaches to promote them;
  • Ambitious regional strategies and roadmaps leading to regional bio-based sectors that are sustainable, inclusive and adapted to local assets and conditions;
  • Enhanced research and innovation capacities, and appropriate transfer of research results to regional/local stakeholders.
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