In the culmination of a two year co-creation process amongst key regional stakeholders, five regional bioeconomy strategy and roadmap documents have been finalized in the Open Innovation Platform (OIP) regions of Szczecin and Vistula Lagoons, Poland; Stara Zagora, Bulgaria; Strumica, North Macedonia; Vidzeme and Kurzeme, Latvia; and Covasna, Romania. The strategies and roadmaps were developed in the context of structured regional stakeholder processes and outline explicit actions that could support the further development of the regional bioeconomies.

In a celebration of the economic, ecological, and cultural diversity of European regions, the five documents present a broad range of strategies and tools for realising the potential of regional and local bio-based economies. Each document closely examines the regional context, the sectors relevant for the bioeconomy, as well as the existing national and regional institutional and policy environments.

In the Polish Baltic Lagoon regions, a strong focus is placed on social innovation in the fishery sector, whereas the utilisation of forest and agricultural biomass as well as waste and production residues take centre stage for bioeconomy development in the Vidzeme and Kurzeme regions of Latvia. The roadmap for the development of the bioeconomy in Strumica, North Macedonia focuses on the great potential of the agriculture sector and the need for advisory services for agricultural products, as well as training and education to aid the sector’s digital transition. Stara Zagora’s economy is dominated by a mix of small- and medium sized enterprises and, as such, one of the main priorities of the roadmap is creating conditions for the development of bio-based sectors and promoting the introduction of new technologies. In Romania, the development of the Roadmap for a Bioeconomy Strategy in Covasna County was strongly driven by innovation clusters and the need to harmonise rural development, social inclusion, and eco-innovation.

As a testament to one of the central aims of BE-Rural to enable broad and inclusive stakeholder participation in the roadmap and strategy development processes, the resulting documents demonstrate a strong mandate from various interest groups as well as clear relevance in the regional and national policy debates. Through the establishment of permanent bioeconomy stakeholder panels in each of the regions, BE-Rural will help maintain momentum and ensure broad support for the further development of the regional bioeconomies in the five OIP regions. The panels will consist of up to five members who will promote the bioeconomy within their regions and represent the regions and their interests to the national governments as ‘bioeconomy ambassadors’.

Summaries of strategy and roadmap documents are provided in the deliverable D5.3 and the individual documents can be accessed in their local languages here.

As part of the month long Open Strumica Festival, a big tent was set up for five days in the very centre of Strumica, North Macedonia, where passers-by could find inside a bio-based pop-up store showcasing more than 50 sustainable products coming from more than 20 different countries, including the five Open Innovation Platform countries where the BE-Rural project operates.

Facilitated by SDEWES (Macedonian section), an opening event took place on Friday 30 July where project partners and stakeholders from the municipality administration of Strumica had the chance to meet and introduce Janevski Kosta, the Mayor of Strumica, to the pop-up store. A delegation from the Polish Open Innovation Platform had accompanied to Strumica Barbara Michalska, the Deputy Mayor of Swinoujscie, where the last BE-Rural pop-up store had taken place, to meet with their Macedonian counterparts and learn from their respective bioeconomy strategy and roadmap development processes. This first day ended with a unique culinary experience, a “Eat the bioeconomy” event offering a menu made of spiced crickets, chlorella algae pasta, beer made from bread residues, and much more. On the following day, a World Cafe session took place at the location of the pop-up store. The session was attended by 15 stakeholders who discussed the barriers that slow down the development of bioeconomy practices in the region, and the appropriate solutions to this issue. Participants also identified the actors who will be key in implementing a bioeconomy in Strumica.

In just five days, the bio-based pop-up store attracted more than 200 curious minds interested in learning more about the bioeconomy and the potential of their rural region. In addition to being promoted as part of the biggest local event of the year, the Strumica Open Festival, the pop-up store received coverage on several regional and national TV and radio channels, such as SRnetStrumica Denes, Strumica Online, Klimatski Promeni, TV sitel, TV Telma, TV MRT (23″00′”), and TV VIS, among others.

You can find here more impressions from the pop-up store:

BE-Rural Bio-based Pop-up Store, Strumica, MK - 07-08.21

A critical component of BE-Rural is to accompany the elaboration process of bio-based strategies and roadmaps and relevant business models through the sharing of knowledge, good practices and mutual learning across the Open Innovation Platforms (OIPs). To this end, three inter-regional webinars were organised on 18 March 2020, 16 June 2020, and on 16 February 2021. Each of the three webinars were held as half-day events and successfully brought together between thirty and forty participants, mainly representing the five OIP regions.

The first webinar focused on improving the general understanding of the current regional situations with regard to their political contexts and main priorities for the development of local bioeconomy strategies. OIP facilitators and their stakeholders had the chance to provide details on their sector of activity, describe the status of the bioeconomy development in their region and discuss common points of interest, such as the need for more cross-sector collaboration, the lack of financing, and the utilization of abandoned private land in rural areas.

A second webinar further deepened the exchange of best practices between regions by examining experiences in the promotion of local food systems, funding opportunities, and the role of bioeconomy in the implementation of smart specialisation strategies. A key outcome highlighted throughout the webinar was the high replicability across regions of these three aspects. In addition, it was noted that the mobilisation of regional actors, accompanied by a sustained effort to educate society from an early age, was the key factor for success.

The third webinar was dedicated to best practices on strategy development and business models in each OIP region. Each region shared one or two best practices focused both on local/regional strategies and business models. A number of successful small-scale examples or initiatives helped complete the economic picture in each region.

The outcomes of these interactions have helped collect best practices and critical knowledge on the role of these activities in designing and implementing effective strategies. These learnings will be published in a “Best practice guide for strategy development” and will ultimately feed back into BE-Rural’s regional strategy and roadmap development processes.

During 10 days, locals from the Szczecin Lagoon region, Poland, had the chance to immerse themselves in the BE-Rural Bio-based Pop-up Store, a fascinating environment showcasing around 50 innovative and sustainable bio-based exhibits. With a focus put on a few products from Poland, such as biodegradable and edible tablewares made from wheat bran and jewellery composed of food by-products like salmon skin, the Bio-based Pop-up Store took place between 01 and 10 August in Swinoujscie, a port city located right between the Baltic Sea and the Szczecin Lagoon.

Coordinated by project partners, BIOCOM AG and NMFRI, the Polish National Marine Fisheries Research Institute, with the support of the Ecologic Institut, the temporary exhibition attracted more than 300 visitors who were curious to find out about the concrete solutions the bioeconomy can offer to deal with important environmental challenges.

On the opening day, Saturday 01.08, a World Café took regional stakeholders on a boat for two hours of knowledge-sharing about the BE-Rural project, and discussion around how circular bioeconomies could be implemented in the regions of Vistula and Szczecin Lagoons. Vistula Lagoon is the second Polish region involved in BE-Rural, and a number of stakeholders from the Vistula lagoon participated in the World Café. The specific issues which the two lagoon regions have in common with regards to economically low-value fish species were addressed with a view to creating a strategy on the use of bio-based resources that would help enhance culinary tourism in both regions. Participants included local authorities, fishery local action group representatives, scientists, and local business leaders.

On the following day, a seminar was organised to seek the views from the regional stakeholders about the conditions and long-term actions necessary for the introduction of circular bioeconomies around low-value fish species in the two lagoon regions. More details were provided about the specific low-value fish species present in the Vistula and Szczecin lagoons, the fishing methods and its traditional use. Specific case studies on how circular bioeconomies work in other parts of Poland were also brought up, such as in the carp aquaculture field in the Barycz Valley or in the hotel industry with the CIRTOINNO project, a publicly financed project aimed at providing circular economy tools to support innovation in green and blue tourism small and medium-sized enterprises.

All in all, not only did the 2nd BE-Rural Bio-based Pop-up Store increase the Szczecin local community’s knowledge about the bioeconomy and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, but it also stimulated the interest of visitors and local actors in the availability and use of the regional bio-based resources, while encouraging their involvement in the creation of a regional development strategy based on the principles of a circular bioeconomy.

Marina – Jachtowa
72-611 Świnoujście

01.08.2020 – 10.08.2020

Find a few impressions from the Bio-based Pop-up Store below:

BE-Rural Bio-based Pop-up Store - Swinoujscie, PL, 08.20

Click here to listen to an interview with Marcin Rakowski, from BE-Rural’s Polish OIP facilitator, NMFRI that was broadcasted on the local Radio Twoje (in Polish only).

You will find here a video coverage of the Bio-based Pop-up Store provided by TV Słowianin (in Polish only):

For more information about the pop-up store in Polish, please check out the NMFRI website.

Photo: Educational workshop, 09.03.20, University of Strathclyde (UK)

Increasing awareness and understanding of bioeconomy, sustainability and circular economy through education is one of the main objectives of BE-Rural. In this perspective, the project partner, University of Strathclyde, UK, developed, evaluated and tested a series of educational materials that can be used by teachers. The material is available only in English at the moment, but will also be translated into the languages of the five Open Innovation Platform regions: Bulgarian, Romanian, Latvian, Polish and Macedonian. This report includes Powerpoint slides for use by teachers, workshops, quizzes, games, extracurricular activities, and a review of 100 free educational resources that are already accessible online free-of-charge. In the context of the current Coronavirus pandemic, the report also touches upon the online delivery of educational materials, which are available for download hereunder.

Raising awareness of the value of bioeconomy and how it relates to sustainability is fundamental in contributing to the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals. As the EU is taking actions towards a sustainable bioeconomy, notably with its strategy aiming at promoting the bioeconomy within ecological limits, the sustainability implications of the bioeconomy is an aspect commonly shared across all the learning materials.

Power Point slides for teacher presentations with notes:

Introduction to the bioeconomy

Bioeconomy and key principles of sustainability

Bioeconomy and SDGs (and respective targets)

Bioeconomy and the Circular Economy

Bioecomomy in the agriculture sector

Bioecomomy in the forestry sector

Bioecomomy in the fisheries sector

Bioecomomy in the sector of essential oils and herbs for cosmetics/pharmaceuticals

Workshops, quizzes and games:

Mentimeter ideas

Workshop and Card Game “Business Match”

Game “Sustainability and SDGs Heatwave”

One set of cards and two games: “BE-Match” & “SDG-Link”

Bioeconomy Word Search Puzzles

As events are being reshaped in digital formats worldwide given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, BE-Rural partners also adapt their communication by going online. Lately, Dr Elsa Joāo, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, and partner on the BE-Rural project, responsible for the creation of education materials for schools, colleges and universities, among others, did a Zoom talk on “Key principles of the circular economy and how it relates to the bioeconomy”, at an online conference “Bioeconomy: for a sustainable future” organised by the Biochemistry Students´ Association of Coimbra Academic Association (NEBIOQ/AAC), in partnership with Académica Start UC, a programme of  awareness-raising and education for innovation and entrepreneurship carried out by the University of Coimbra (UC) and the Coimbra Academic Association (AAC), Portugal.

Please contact us, if you would wish to receive more information on her talk.

Regional Stakeholder Event_06.09.19_Covasna (RO)

Photo: Regional Stakeholder Seminar, 17.12.19, Covasna (RO)

Regional partners from the five Open Innovations Platforms (OIPs) started their stakeholder engagement processes by organising meetings and workshops with specific target groups from their communities. These include, among others, policy-makers, academics, civil society representatives, investors, financial institutions, companies, and other players from across the local bio-based value chains. The series of activities that are currently happening in the OIP regions mainly aim at exchanging knowledge on the theme of a regional bioeconomy strategy, identifying areas for capacity-building among stakeholders, supporting the enhancement of their capacities and encouraging their active participation in maintaining stakeholder working groups set up to develop strategy or roadmap documents for strengthened regional bioeconomies.

End of last year, a number of stakeholder meetings already took place in Covasna, Romania. Several clusters representing different sectors, from forestry to textile and fashion, attended the meetings and were provided, inter alia, with insights into how to move towards a bioeconomic development model in the region of Covasna.

Stakeholder Working Group Meeting_23.01.20_Strumica (MK)

The other four pilot regions got 2020 off to a flying start with similar events and workshops organised in January and February. In spite of the current COVID-19 pandemic, partners from the five focal regions will continue to be very active in engaging with their stakeholders and mobilising synergies between them to boost collaboration for the advancement of local bio-based economies. You can make sure to hear more from the innovation regions in the future while discussions and consultations with regional stakeholders are progressing.

Keep on visiting the BE-Rural website as event reports with more information are being regularly uploaded in English.

Photo Credits: T.A.Štāls LSFRI Silava

Pop-up stores are shops, cafés or events that appear in fascinating environments and stay for a limited time period. At the centre stage are not only consumption aspects, but also the innovation potential. These spaces provide the room to try something new and get inspired. The first BE-Rural bio-based pop-up store has now opened its doors in Cēsis, in the innovation region Vidzeme in Latvia.

The pop-up store is part of the Vidzeme Innovation Week, a five-day event with the aim to encourage existing and future employees, entrepreneurs and managers to see the potential of innovation in their everyday work. During the opening hours, primarily school classes from the Vidzeme region visit the pop-up store. They are guided by experts from the SILAVA research institute that introduce the advantages and potential of a bio-based economy.

Food made from insects, leather made from bacteria, clothes made from milk – about 50 bio-based product innovations are presented in the pop-up store, with a special focus on the bioeconomic potential of Latvia. Spruces and pines are a valuable resource from Latvian forests. Besides their value for timber production, their needles and cones can be turned into bio-based products. The pop-up store showcases pinecones that can be used as a substitute for barbeque charcoal or turned into delicious sweets. The needles of spruces serve as basis for natural insecticides or nutritional supplements that have health enhancing powers.

Within the pop-up store, a narrative is developed that shows how bioeconomic innovations are able to contribute to the achievement of selected UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The products are presented in the context of SDG 2 with the aim to end hunger, SDG 9 that deals with industry, innovation and infrastructure, SDG 12 that focuses on sustainable consumption and SDG 15 that has been created to protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems.

To get a taste of the future, visitors of the Vidzeme Innovation Conference have the chance to „eat the bioeconomy“. Insect snacks, algae pasta and drinks made from hemp and algae as well as gluten free beer are served to the attendees of the meeting. More information about the Vidzeme Innovation Week and the Vidzeme Innovation Conference “Responsible Innovation” can be found here.

Visit our bio-based pop-up store in Latvia!

Lielā Skolas iela 6, Cēsis, Latvia

24.02.2020 – 28.02.2020

Click below to check the Brochure used at the Bio-based pop up store:

Available in English

Available in Latvian

The German government has adopted a new national bioeconomy strategy. In Berlin, two Federal Ministers presented the goals on the way to a bio-based, sustainable economy.

Expanding the bio-based economy

The new German national bioeconomy strategy sets the framework for the sustainable development and use of biological resources and environmentally and nature-friendly production processes in all economic sectors. With the overall strategy, the Federal Government is bundling the activities of all federal ministries on the bioeconomy to date and setting the course for further development.

Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek and Federal Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner presented the new bio-economy strategy at a press conference in Berlin. “Not least because of climate change we have to rethink. We have to do everything we can to preserve our livelihoods while remaining economically strong. The bioeconomy is key to reaching this goal”, said Karliczek. The new strategy therefore aims to make even greater use of biological knowledge, resources, processes and systems in all economic sectors.

Around 3.6 billion euros for a sustainable bioeconomy

According to the ministers, the German government will invest up to 3.6 billion euros over the next five years to implement the bioeconomic strategy. The clear focus of the strategy is on sustainability, said Minister Karliczek. “We will specifically promote innovations that take into account the climate, the environment and the stress limits of our ecosystems. A sustainable economy not only helps us to achieve our global sustainability goals, but also secures us a leading position in the markets of the future in the long term.” Federal Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner: “The bioeconomy is promising especially for agriculture and forestry. As central producers of raw materials, our farmers are the supporting pillars of the strategy. While we have to import many fossil resources, the renewable ones are growing around the corner. On our fields and in the forests,” emphasized Klöckner. “Tires made of dandelions, car doors made of hemp fibers or rubber boots made of corn. These are just a few examples that illustrate the potential and practical relevance of research.” Klöckner had brought a particularly light bicycle helmet made of a wood-based material to the press conference.

Science Year 2020: Bioeconomy in the spotlight

In order to strengthen the development of a sustainable bioeconomy also internationally, close links with industry and cross-border cooperation are to be expanded. For the bioeconomy to be effective, however, it must above all meet societal demands and needs. It is therefore important to conduct an open discussion and to involve all social groups. This is why bioeconomy is the topic of the German Science Year 2020. (You can find more information on the German Science Year Bioeconomy here).


An in-depth bioeconomy potential analysis is the basis for any bioeconomy strategy or roadmap. This analysis is needed to understand the current situation and define barriers and opportunities. The bioeconomy potential of the BE-Rural Open Innovation regions was analyzed with the Self-Assessment Tool (SAT) launched by the European Commission. The SAT is based on eight Key Factors: Long term, stability and availability of feedstock; infrastructure to handle feedstocks and production; access to finance; skilled workforce, technical expertise and training; existence of support institutions; strength and availability of regional markets; entrepreneurship; and Public support policies. The following text provides a brief overview of the results. The complete report can be downloaded here.

  • Stara Zagora in Bulgaria there is enough feedstock from forest, agricultural residues and waste sufficient for small-scale bio-based industries and bioenergy installations, but what can hinder the development of the bioeconomy is mostly the difficult access to finance and the lack of public support. However, the strong chemical manufacturing sector can bring significant potential if new business models for the production of bio-based chemicals are adapted.
  • Szczecin and Vistula Lagoon in Poland, the analysis covered only the fishery sector. Two scenarios can be envisaged for the development of the bioeconomy in this sector. The first is based on developing a marketing strategy to allow the reuse of the by-catch fish as an edible product as part of promoting sustainable food systems and the second scenario considers the use of the by-catch together with the fish waste coming from fish processing to produce bio-based products. There is no public support available in the areas of research, finance or entrepreneurship, but the presence of Fishery Local Action Groups and fish clusters can compensate to a certain extent for the absence of public support. Stakeholders need to work together to attract investors and start-ups.
  • In Strumica, North Macedonia, there are enough resources for small-scale applications to be used for the bioeconomy, but there are many obstacles that might hinder the development of the bioeconomy, especially the lack of skilled people, education and trainings in the field of bioeconomy and the lack of public support institutions. Substantial awareness raising and direct dissemination activities about the opportunities that the bioeconomy can bring are crucial for its development.
  • As for the Covasna region in Romania, it already uses forest biomass for pellet and wood chips production, but there are still unused feedstocks that can be available for other small-scale bio-based industries. The factors that might hinder the development of the bioeconomy is the lack of skilled personnel for the implementation of bio-based industries, because of lack of vocational training and the lack of public support and entrepreneurship.
  • The situation in Vidzeme and Kurzeme in Latvia is promising for the development of the bioeconomy, as feedstocks are significantly available for small-scale bio-based industry or bioenergy installations. Financing is also available and is supported by private and public bodies. A qualified workforce to implement and manage bio-based industries is present. Furthermore, the region can profit widely from the existing supporting institutions. The barriers, which could hinder the development of the bio-based industry are the lack of a stable biomass resources market which can deliver in a constant manner and on the long-term, the possible lack of entrepreneurship.