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BIOSWITCH: Encouraging Brand Owners to Switch-to-Bio-Based in highly innovative ecosystems

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - BIOSWITCH (BIOSWITCH: Encouraging Brand Owners to Switch-to-Bio-Based in highly innovative ecosystems)

Reporting period: 2021-06-01 to 2022-05-31

The objective of BIOSWITCH was to boost the growth of bioeconomy in Europe by encouraging and supporting brand owners to switch to bio-based approaches. Brand owners are key stakeholders to implement the bio-based economy at EU, national, regional, and local level. However, brand owners can be hesitant to invest to bio-based solutions due to perceived risks and uncertainties. BIOSWITCH supported the bio-based transition in two complementary approaches: 1) concentrating on brand owners and their needs and, 2) developing tailored tools to give brand owners themselves tools to build their value chains, to learn and to communicate their bio-based approaches and to prove the impacts of their switching efforts by evaluating the environmental, economic and social effects of their transition case. The project activities supported the transition towards sustainable circular bioeconomy by promoting bioeconomy, bio-based solutions and generation of new value chains, and helped to create jobs and wellbeing for the society by realising the European Bioeconomy Strategy.

BIOSWITCH developed a systemic framework of brand owners, consumers, public administration, and bio-based industry to encourage, facilitate and accelerate brand owners from different sectors and at different stages of the transition journey to switch-to-bio-based approaches. BIOSWITCH's holistic, systemic approach was built on two pillars:
1) A framework where brand owners were placed as the centre of the public administration-bio-based industry-consumers triangle through a set of events and communication actions that allowed shaping solutions to mitigate their perceived risks.
2) The BIOSWITCH toolbox as the ultimate instrument that assisted them in the bio-based transition journey.

The specific objectives of BIOSWITCH were:
1) Develop a network of brand owners and to identify best practices and assess main needs, perceived risks, motivation and incentives they gain when switching to bio-based approaches.
2) Deliver an effective “switch-to-bio-based toolbox”, the so called BIOSWITCH toolbox.
3) Validate the proposed BIOSWITCH toolbox with real brand owners from different sectors and maturity levels, evaluating their feedback and producing the final configuration of the toolbox.
4) Roll-out the BIOSWITCH toolbox at European level and replicate it at regional level.
5) Disseminate and exploit BIOSWITCH.

Overall, we have directly reached over 1500 participants through the different project events and activities within the 2-year project lifetime. Altogether, BIOSWITCH has produced 31 deliverables and reached 9 milestones during the whole project lifetime.
The main output of the BIOSWITCH project was the BIOSWITCH Toolbox, which is a set of tools that supports European brand owners in different sectors to switch to bio-based approaches from fossil-based solutions. BIOSWITCH produced a holistic framework, multiple different communication material type tools, the sustainability assessment tool to assess the impacts of the switching, as well as the event concepts to support bio-based value chain building.

The BIOSWITCH Toolbox is a set of tools that supports European brand owners in different sectors to switch to bio-based approaches from fossil-based solutions. The toolbox is useful for any bio-based value chain, and it takes into account the different readiness levels of companies in adopting bio-based solutions in the implementation of brand owners’ bio-based strategy. The BIOSWITCH toolbox consists of 4 main elements:
1. Communication material type tools.
2. Sustainability assessment tool including the assessment of environmental, economic, and social sustainability.
3. Pan-European online event concept to build value chains for European brand owners.
4. Value chain development service through a customised regional event to support the value chain building for a major brand owner.

The framework analysed the needs, risks, motivations and incentives of brand owners switching to biobased on a European and regional level via interviews, surveys and desktop research. Six best practice case studies for the BIOSWITCH key cluster sectors were created. Consumer surveys were done to understand the main incentives to choose bio-based products. A framework database of networks of stakeholders was created. Four regional (Finland, Denmark, Belgium, Spain) and a Pan-European online workshops to support brand owners and consumers to switch-to-bio-based were held.

The BIOSWITCH Toolbox and all of the research carried out is published on the BIOSWITCH website and available there until 05/2024.

BIOSWITCH has been very active in project communication and dissemination activities in social media, on the project website, different seminars and webinars, and workshops. Overall reach has been wide:
- BIOSWITCH activities have reached over 1500 participants.
- BIOSWITCH website: Over 5000 visitors and over 23 400 page views.
- Newsletter: Total of 11 719 readers.
- Press releases sent to 150+ media outlets.
- 3 published scientific articles.
All project activities and results of BIOSWITCH highlight the importance of supporting and promoting bioeconomy to brand-owners, public administration, bio-based industry, consumers, and other relevant stakeholders to foster the growth of European Bioeconomy. The project activities support the transition towards zero-emission circular bioeconomy by promoting bio-based solutions and generation of new value chains.

Europe needs to consolidate and boost the role of bioeconomy in its global economy as it represents a 4.2% of the EU's GDP. In order to support this, BIOSWITCH has really focused in its project activities towards brand owners and additionally consumers as they are key stakeholder groups to initiate the change. Brand owners make the go-no go decision on bio-based alternatives and interact with the bio-based value-chain and the consumers directly drive the market demand of bio-based products. The relationship between brand owners and consumers is the cornerstone for implementing and accelerating EU bioeconomy.

BIOSWITCH has supported the bio-based transition in two complementary approaches:
1) concentrating on brand owners and their needs and,
2) by developing tailored tools to give brand owners themselves tools to build their value chains, to learn and communicate their bio-based approaches and to prove the impacts of their switching efforts by evaluating the environmental, economic, and social effects of their transition case.

Both of these activities help brand owners respond to and drive consumer awareness.

The sustainability assessment tool helps the brand owners to get more reliable predictions of their processes and material choices of their products in the form of ecologic indicators. The results received from the tool enable the BOs to improve and rebuild the marketability of their bio-based products. Overall, the BIOSWITCH project has triggered and boosted brand owners to switch-to-bio-based by further utilising the carried out research and the developed BIOSWITCH Toolbox. It is expected that through the use of these tools, brand owners will be encouraged to communicate and promote their bio-based approaches more strongly leading to the increased marketability and consumer awareness.
BIOSWITCH