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The role of regions in the European Bioeconomy - Bratislava Bioeconomy Conference 2016

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - BBEC2016 (The role of regions in the European Bioeconomy - Bratislava Bioeconomy Conference 2016)

Reporting period: 2016-09-27 to 2017-01-26

The aim of the project was to prepare Bratislava Bioeconomy Conference “The role of regions in the European Bioeconomy” and to disseminate its results and conclusions in post-conference activities. The ambition of this project was to improve the visibility of the bioeconomy, to identify policy options and priorities and to plan future actions. The goal was to discuss with national and regional stakeholders the new bioeconomy context for the agriculture, forestry and fisheries, the role of research and innovation to overcome the big societal challenges ahead of us and also to identify the barriers in the regions in adapting the bioeconomy strategy. The conference and the post-conference activities aimed to raise awareness in the EU regions on the need for bioeconomy strategy building, to bring to the attention of EU policy makers the regional and international aspects of the bioeconomy, and on the possibilities offered by these new aspects at regional and international level.

Bratislava Bioeconomy Conference 2016 was organised by the National Agriculture and Food Centre in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development under the auspices of Standing Committee of Agricultural Research (SCAR) and the Slovak Presidency of the European Council on 17 October 2016 in Bratislava, Slovakia.
The programme of the conference was prepared prior to the event based on the conference aims and objectives. During the preparatory phase, the organizers focused their activity to identify the key regional stakeholders to involve in the conference discussions and also to provide input to the conference programme content. Among the speakers at the conference, represented were not just the policy makers but also the representatives of research, industry, primary producers, and NGOs. The moderators of the parallel sessions were identified based on their professional experience and knowledge of the particular spheres discussed in the sessions. In addition to being distributed at the conference along with the promotional materials, the programme was made available online at the conference website and social media before the date of the conference and it was continuously updated to reflect the development of the conference agenda.
In accordance with the project and the general outline of the conference, stakeholders and representatives of the public from European regions were invited to register for the conference. The capacity of the conference, based on and limited by the capacity of the conference venue, was 250 participants. More than 300 of prospective attendees from 29 countries registered for the conference, reflecting the current interest in the topic. At the conference, 232 participants from 24 countries were present to discuss the topic of bioeconomy.

A comprehensive communication and dissemination was followed by the coordinator to ensure the impact of the conference and the post-conference activities. The project involved three levels of dissemination: dissemination for awareness, dissemination for understanding, and dissemination for action. The aim of dissemination for awareness was to target the audiences that did not require the detailed knowledge but for who it would be beneficial to be aware of our activities and outcomes. Dissemination for understanding addressed the broader community and the wider public that could be interested in the conference and its conclusions. We aimed to inform and stimulate the interest in bioeconomy, its importance and sustainable economy. Dissemination for action aimed to address the broader community, EU, stakeholders from different sectors relevant to bioeconomy (agriculture, fisheries, forestry, industry, energy, etc.), the entire vertical chain. Its objective was to inform and stimulate interest on the conference conclusions, achievements and recommendations.
The conference created a platform for a more active dialogue among researchers, stakeholders, policy makers and the civil society. At the conference, participants were introduced to examples of good practices as well as offered advice on implementing the bioeconomy strategy themselves. They had the opportunity to discuss the challenges, possibilities, and needs regarding implementing bioeconomy strategy. Contacts were initiated which will result in new joint ventures among the stakeholders from different spheres of bioeconomy. The dissemination activities continue to stimulate and facilitate the involvement in bioeconomy.

The project, through the conference itself as well as press releases, promotional material, scientific and professional articles, policy briefs and materials prepared for the Council discussions, raised awareness in the EU regions of the need to strategically build the bioeconomy. Particular emphasis was given to the bioeconomy in lower performing regions and countries. Highlighted was innovative bioeconomy as a source of new jobs, improving the state of economy particularly in rural and coastal areas. The conference and its follow-up activities, through introducing examples, raised awareness of the opportunities for growth of new markets (bio fuels, food and bio-based products).

Through briefings and documents presented at meetings such as the Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting on November 15th 2016 and the Minister of Education, Science, Research and Sport of the Slovak Republic at the Competitiveness Council meeting on November 29th 2016, the regional and international aspects of the bioeconomy were brought to the attention of EU policy makers. In addition to raising the awareness of the possibilities offered by bioeconomy, a key line of actions was proposed. This will influence the review of the standing European Bioeconomy Strategy and the improvement of the strategy implementations, particularly in the lower performing regions.

The conference and post-conference activities highlighted also the benefits from relevant EU instruments and initiatives that can support regional bioeconomy clusters (such as Horizon 2020, European Structural and Investment Funds and smart specialisation strategies). This will allow stakeholders to better implement the bioeconomy strategy by leveraging the tools provided by EU. It is the coordinator’s belief that the project will have long-lasting effects beyond the duration of the project itself. In the long term, the results of the project will foster the development of the bioeconomy and contribute to achieving energy and climate targets, diversification of energy sources, and will support innovation and breakthroughs in low-carbon technologies.
A. Sziemaszko and D. Peskovicova
Opening
Session - Bioeconomy in everyday life
Logo of the conference
Farmers revue - TV programm presented the BBEC conference
Minsiter of agriculture G. Matecna and minsiter of edu and research P. Plavcan
Bio-based product presented during the conference
Plennary session - rountable discussion
Dicussion of participants
Parrallel session
Opening of the conference, Joh Bell