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

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - BIOSWITCH (BIOSWITCH: Encouraging Brand Owners to Switch-to-Bio-Based in highly innovative ecosystems)

Reporting period: 2020-06-01 to 2021-05-31

The objective of BIOSWITCH is 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 will support 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. BIOSWITCH is committed to enhancing the competitiveness of the European bioeconomy and helping structure the bio-based industry by supporting formation of new value chains between sectors and regions. The project activities support the transition towards zero-emission circular bioeconomy by promoting bio-based solutions and generation of new value chains, promote the bioeconomy and help create jobs and wellbeing for the society by realising the European Bioeconomy Strategy.

BIOSWITCH develops 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 is built on two pillars:
1) A framework where brand owners are placed as the centre of the public administration-bio-based industry-consumers triangle through a set of events and communication actions that will allow shaping solutions to mitigate their perceived risks.
2) The BIOSWITCH toolbox as the ultimate instrument that will assist them in the bio-based transition journey.

The specific objectives of BIOSWITCH are:
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.
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 main output is 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. 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 (period 1 and 2).
2. Sustainability assessment tool including the assessment of environmental, economic, and social sustainability (period 1 and 2).
3. Pan-European online event concept to build value chains for European brand owners (period 2).
4. Value chain development service through a customised regional event to support the value chain building for a major brand owner (period 2).

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 (agriculture, food, forestry, and chemical 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 readiness level” self-assessment test tool was created to define different bio-based transition journey levels.

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:
- Twitter: 104 000+ impressions.
- LinkedIn: 46 000+ impressions with a 6,5 % engagement rate.
- BIOSWITCH website: 2646 visitors, newsletter: average of 1776 readers.
- Press releases sent to 150+ media outlets.
- 2 published scientific articles, 1 more upcoming.
BIOSWITCH aims to have a large and positive impact in triggering and boosting the progress of brand owners switch to bio-based. The replication and further roll-out of project outputs is expected to be carried out during and after the project, setting the basis for an improved European sector with maximised utilisation of local and regional resources. BIOSWITCH will provide the validated BIOSWITCH toolbox that will allow brand owners to become aware of how switching to bio-based can have a positive impact on their business, increasing their interest in a company bio-based strategy. The primary target is to achieve European roll-out of the BIOSWITCH toolbox to involve and commit brand owners in the bio-based transition journey. BIOSWITCH will promote fact-based information to consumers to support their positive perception of the bio-based products.

The different communication material type tools produced will support companies in making strategic decisions about their bio-based strategy and transition at different levels. For example, the Adoption tools such as the IT sustainability assessment tool will provide figures about environmental, economic and social impacts which can be used for decision making. This tool goes beyond state-of-the-art by letting the brand owners’ themselves assess and do their own testing between different choices. With the aid of comparison tools, it is possible not only to see the benefits of planned design choices (non-bio vs. bio-based material compositions, production processes), but also compute the sustainability benefits for other actors in the value-chain. Overall, the tools related to building the value chain will help brand owners to commit to the bio-based transition journey as BIOSWITCH will assist them in finding and building strategic alliances.

BIOSWITCH addresses most of the “Guiding principles for the development of the bioeconomy” that were identified in the European Bioeconomy Stakeholders Manifesto: jobs, inclusiveness, planet (limits to resources, biodiversity, ecological balance and climate) and profit (resource efficiency, competitiveness). The socio-economic and wider social impacts are important part of BIOSWITCH and the positive impact is supported by the core project activities such as communication and dissemination, awareness-raising and developing key messages, promote bio-based products, networking, research completed and sustainability assessment tool.
BIOSWITCH