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BioEcon Report Summary

Project ID: 669062
Funded under: H2020-EU.4.c.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - BioEcon (New Strategies on Bio-Economy in Poland)

Reporting period: 2015-07-01 to 2016-09-30

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

In Poland, the term bioeconomy is not satisfactorily recognizable either in the scientific community nor in business. The share of renewable energy in total primary energy demand in Poland amounts to 11.9% (CSO, 2014). The Polish bioeconomy has been characterized by Igliński et al. (2011). There are over 100 energy crop plantations on an area of at least 5 ha each, 44 pellet and/or briquette producers, over 100 biomass thermal power plants with the capacity of more than 0.5 MW, 40 biomass and coal co-firing thermal power plants, 39 biofuel producers with the capacity of 1 million dm3/year, 80 biogas power plants located at municipal waste sites, 56 biogas power plants located at sewage treatment works, 8 agricultural biogas power plants, one municipal waste incinerator. These values are low for a country where agriculture plays a dominant economic role, like Poland, who could take advantage of its agricultural resource endowments and develop technologies based on biomass, biofuels and biogas. The lack of defined strategies and plans for using public financial support, however, discourages investors and makes it more difficult for the sector to develop efficiently. In their response to a public survey, many people stress the lack of sufficient support from public authorities and the lack of training programmes and workshops for bio-energy producers or extensive marketing, so these areas could be targeted first in strategies to promote a sustainable bioeconomy in Poland. In the near future, a target of the national policies is to further develop renewable biomass -based energy.

The overall objective of BioEcon is to develop, extend and fully unlock the research potential of IUNG in accordance with the new global strategies, trends and changes in national needs through the creation of an excellent international and interdisciplinary department of bioeconomy and systems analysis. The knowledge, experience, developed tools, research programme and collaborations will allow the institute to maintain the new unit in the institute also after the completion of the project. It will operate in close cooperation with the other departments of the Institute, with the main purpose of regional development in line with knowledge-based bio-economy. This structural change in IUNG is a response to an identified need and potential on the national level and will receive the support of public authorities, industry and other research structures.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

"Within the first reporting period, the BioEcon project have made very good progress in all work packages. WP1 and WP2 are now complete. The new interdisciplinary Department of Bioeconomy and Systems Analysis was created. The Institute has received the logo of "HR Excellence in Research". The ERA Chair holder has been recruited, as has the whole scientific team. Within WP3, the exploratory phase of the new interdisciplinary strategy development was conducted, including complementing research capacity, as well as specific issues related to the ERA plan. New equipment was purchased, intended to support the newly formed department and the BioEcon project team. Activities in WP4 have focused on the regional action plan for identification and in-depth analysis of stakeholders. Based on the collected data, the key stakeholders were selected for future collaboration. An initial meeting with key stakeholders was conducted to establish common collaboration paths with the IUNG and other joint initiatives at the national level. So far, WP 5 has focused on organizing workshops and trainings for students, as well as on participation in several conferences. Within WP6 several project were submitted and two of them were accepted for financing. The promotional campaign of the BioEcon project was started at the begging of the project. Communication and dissemination materials were prepared and shared with the partners of IUNG and presented at several meetings. The administration of the project and financial management was done on a daily basis. Every three months, the coordinator was responsible for ensuring work progressed. The Management Board met every six months."

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

Bioeconomy comprises those parts of the economy that use renewable biological resources from land and sea – such as crops, forests, fish, animals and micro-organisms – to produce food, materials and energy and it is becoming an important sector of industrial activity in Europe. The European Commission (EC) launched a new strategy and action plan on Bioeconomy in 2012, with the objective of establishing a resource efficient and competitive society that reconciles food security with the sustainable use of renewable resources. The focus of the Action Plan is on
1) investing in research, innovation and skills;
2) reinforcing policy interaction and stakeholder engagement; and
3) enhancing markets and competitiveness in the bioeconomy.
The Bioeconomy Strategy is aimed at five societal challenges relevant for the bio-economy:
1. ensuring food security;
2. managing natural resources sustainably;
3. reducing dependence on non-renewable resources;
4. mitigating and adapting to climate change; and
5. creating jobs and maintaining European competitiveness.
A bioeconomy is characterized by a cross-cutting nature; moreover, it offers a unique opportunity for a comprehensive resolution for social problems, such as food security, natural-resource scarcity, dependence on fossil resources and climate change, while achieving sustainable economic growth. Production of biomass from agriculture, forestry, and fisheries requires several essential and scarce resources: mainly areas of the fertile soil, water and healthy ecosystems, but also resources such as minerals and energy for the production of fertilizers. The European economy is mainly based on fossil resources, which are subject to supply-security issues. To maintain innovativeness, the EU must become a low-carbon society, where bio-based products and bioenergy contribute to green growth and competitiveness. Global demand for biomass for food and industrial grow in the coming decades, the EU agriculture, forestry, fishing capacity must be permanently increased. The bioeconomy strategy supports the development of production systems with reduced emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG), adapted to mitigate the negative effects of climate change, such as droughts and floods. A bioeconomy has a large role to play in the transition towards sustainable development, and future contribution will increase by improving the quality, as well as the sustainable production, of renewable raw materials while food safety and healthy environment are guaranteed. There is a need to increase public funding for bioeconomy research and innovation, which has been recognised under Horizon 2020.
Today, the European bioeconomy is already worth more than €2 trillion annually and employs over 22 million people, often in rural or coastal areas and in Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs). Bioeconomy in Poland is still in the initial development phase - the number of companies using modern technologies is small. The development of a bioeconomy in Poland requires joint and coordinated efforts by the ministries of finance, energy, agriculture science and higher education, environment protection as well as health.

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