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Boosting European citizens knowledge and awareness of bioeconomy

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - BLOOM (Boosting European citizens knowledge and awareness of bioeconomy)

Reporting period: 2019-05-01 to 2020-12-31

An economy based on biomass promises to foster a circular economy and to enhance climate change mitigation, while reducing dependence on fossil fuels. Bioeconomy covers a broad range of sectors, from the agro-food industry and fisheries to bio energies, bio-refineries and bio-chemicals. Despite the technological potentials and the proven applications, it has yet to enter into the public awareness as a promising solution to societal challenges. Technological interventions are not readily accepted and adapted by society. Further, there exists a general lack of information tailored to the general public and there is little awareness of existing bioeconomy products. It is not only the general public and consumers that suffer from a knowledge deficit, but also, knowledge sharing in or between polity, research, education and business is still at a very early stage of development despite some evidence of innovation infrastructures such as innovation centres or educational programs. At the level of universities and higher education institutes, educational programs, courses, departments dealing with bioeconomy are gradually being developed. Still, bioeconomy in school education needs more attention.
As a result of these challenges described above, BLOOM has the following main objectives:
Objective a): Raise awareness and enhance knowledge on bioeconomy
BLOOM conducted 110 outreach activities and reached with that around 88.500 persons. The co-created face to face formats proved to be successful in reaching the specific target groups including the broad public. In reaching the latter it proved very important to implement activities in the public space or in the everyday living environment. However, online formats that were necessary due to the Corona pandemic are not as successful when it comes to reaching out to a broader public. To reach beyond usual target groups, online formats need to be promoted through low threshold social media posts and they must address catchy, sometimes even provoking environment topics, which raise the interest of people with different socio-economic and educational backgrounds.
Objective b): Reduce the fragmentation of awareness strategies and build up and strengthen a bioeconomy community
The BLOOM hub activities started on a small, local level, engaging regional stakeholders. These regional stakeholders were involved in co-creation workshops where they had the possibility to shape and develop awareness raising activities and materials in their own region. These stakeholders became multipliers for outreach activities and contributed to growing networks within their region. Through the interaction across regional hubs these networks got in contact and connected and became part of a European bioeconomy community.
Objective c): Gain a common understanding
The common understanding was central in the co-creation processes within the hubs. In regions where national bioeconomy strategies existed easier agreed on a common understanding based on these documents. However, discussions on values, meaning and aspiration for a region were always important and central before co-creation. The outreach activities then build on the common understanding agreed upon in co-creation.
Objective d): Foster (social) learning and education
Also the second period showed the need for bioeconomy teaching resources and that the BLOOM teachers acted as pioneers promoting bioeconomy teaching for STEM classes in primary and secondary school levels through teacher trainings. Teacher competitions proved to be adequate formats to create further bioeconomy teaching resources. A high number of international teachers were eager to participate which shows the interest beyond European borders. Additionally, the multi stakeholder groups in the regional hubs often chose young people as target group, strengthening informal learning. Creative outreach formats can perfectly be interlinked with educational activities in primary and secondary schools and also with university level.
In the beginning BLOOM has been setting up five regional hubs and a school network of teachers (primary and secondary level) from 10 different countries. The school network involved 20 teachers who developed, tested, improved and disseminated the so-called BLOOM school box. The BLOOM school box contains 11 Learning Scenarios. A MOOC focusing on bioeoconomy and a BLOOM “Teach bioeconomy!” competition for STEM teachers were launched. Additional bioeconomy teaching resources were created. The hubs allow for iterative processes involving quadruple helix stakeholders through various cycles of value development and idea generation through shared knowledge and experiences. The hubs implemented 30 co-creation workshops, where outreach target groups were identified and outreach materials and activities explored, designed and validated aiming at meeting regional needs. The second period was characterized by outreach and dissemination activities. Altogether 110 outreach activities were implemented; almost half of them online due to the Corona Pandemic. Altogether more than 88.500 people were reached through the outreach activities of the BLOOM hubs.
Additionally the dissemination team produced audio visual materials (5 episodes of the BLOOM documentary series, subtitled in all hub languages, 3 short information videos; 8 podcasts, BLOOM quiz, etc.) which were especially important for online use during the Corona pandemic and to support the hubs in their outreach activities. Moreover the dissemination team was responsible to communicate the topic of bioeconomy and the BLOOM results on social media. Partners responsible for content and frameworks of bioeconomy, dissemination partners, school network and hubs collaborated closely in order to create clear and well accessible information (also tools) for different target groups.
All BLOOM results are available on the BLOOMer platform which is going to be maintained until 2025. Materials and formats will be further used by network members, participants and school network. Collected data is available on ZENODO for further research use. Multimedia materials; videos and podcasts are also available on YouTube and Spotify.
BLOOM bridges the knowledge gap and disseminates bioeconomy knowledge to the society at large. BLOOM includes the deployment of large scale outreach activities for multidisciplinary groups and communities developing innovative solutions to European societal challenges. BLOOM strengthens the engagement of stakeholders and the civil society in the bioeconomy innovation, industry and research.
The benefit of the BLOOM co-creation and outreach process was twofold: for one, the citizens and stakeholder will gain knowledge on benefits and issues pertaining to bioeconomy. At the same time, multi-stakeholder networks could be set up.
BLOOM raised citizen awareness and the communication between regional industry representatives, decision makers and citizens was strengthened. Bioeconomy development can help rural areas to strengthen their unique regional profile and to explore their comparative advantages with other regions.
BLOOM developed and applied the BLOOM school box, which addresses boys and girls of different ages and provides different ways of bringing the topic of bieconomy closer. The BLOOM teachers became pioneers in developing bioeconomy teaching resources which proved to be very useful in education.