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Bioeconomy Alliance Leading European Universities to Cooperate in Bioeconomy Research

Editor: Alexander Stark

The six leading European universities in the field of the bioeconomy are planning to join forces in research, teaching/education, and innovation in this subject area. Following the initiative of the University of Hohenheim in Stuttgart (Germany), they have laid the cornerstone for the “European Bioeconomy University” consortium. The cooperation aims at making the European economy more resource-efficient, sustainable, competitive, and based on a circular mindset.

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Six European universities have formed an international alliance with focus on bioeconomy.
Six European universities have formed an international alliance with focus on bioeconomy.
(Source: Universität Hohenheim / Wolfram Scheible)

Hohenheim/Germany — For the European Union, a knowledge-based bioeconomy plays a key role — for example in the development of new crops for food, feed and industry, of new products, as bioplastics and chemicals from renewable resources, of crops adapted to changing climates, and of energy from biomass. In 2012, the EU put forth its Bioeconomy Strategy, paving the way for a sustainable and future-oriented economy in Europe based on renewable resources. The new 2018 EU roadmap indicates a clear direction for further developments.

“European Bioeconomy University” is the title under which the six strongest European universities in the area of the bioeconomy will team up to work towards a common goal. The participants in this initiative are:

  • University of Bologna (Italy)
  • University of Eastern Finland (Finland)
  • University of Hohenheim (Germany)
  • Agro Paris Tech, Paris Institute of Technology for Life, Food and Environmental Sciences (France)
  • University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (Boku, Austria)
  • Wageningen University and Research (Netherlands)

Benefits of a Knowledge-Based Bioeconomy for the Environment, Economy and Society

The bioeconomy faces a range of major challenges: The rapidly growing global population makes it more difficult to ensure food security, and at the same time natural resources need to be used sustainably. The European economy is still highly dependent on fossil fuels - something that a bioeconomy could change, while at the same time contributing to climate change mitigation.

A sustainable and knowledge-based bioeconomy would also benefit the European economy. Over 18 million jobs already exist in today’s bioeconomic sector, with the potential of at least one million new green jobs by 2030. New future-oriented jobs could be created for Europe’s younger generations of employees, strengthening the European Union’s international competitiveness. The bioeconomy thus benefits the environment, the economy and society alike, and also promotes the transition to sustainability.

Research, Qualification, Innovation — The Keys to Success

“We are in agreement with the European Union that the bioeconomy is the future,” stated Prof. Dr. Stephan Dabbert, President of the University of Hohenheim, which initiated the project. In the past, researchers at these six universities had collaborated on numerous projects. Now they are looking to expand this collaboration and create a new form of cooperation so they can work more visibly and effectively on shaping the European Bioeconomy, he emphasized on behalf of the consortium.

The universities consider three pillars to be absolutely essential for the transition to a bioeconomy: They believe that research forms the basis. Secondly, education and excellence in teaching are vital to tap into the full potential of the future bioeconomy. And thirdly, innovations are key for the transformation of research findings into new technologies, services, products, and companies.

The consortium is convinced that the “European Bioeconomy University” will serve as a future think tank in the European Union. The participating partners cover all areas of the bioeconomy - from agriculture, nutrition, forestry, environment, and sustainability, through industrial applications and biotechnology, to economic and social aspects. This means that the “European Bioeconomy University” can make an important contribution to the transformation towards a knowledge-based bioeconomy in Europe and help to accelerate this process.

Additional Information: Updated Bioeconomy Strategy (EC 2018)