Bio-based strategies and roadmaps for enhanced rural and regional development in the EU (BE-Rural)

European regions are diverse – economically, ecologically and culturally. These areas are home to a wealth of ecosystems and resources, where the bioeconomy carries the promise of opportunities for rural employment and sustainable growth. This transition towards a new, bio-based regional economy requires the active involvement of a broad spectrum of stakeholders and the sustainable use of agricultural, forest and marine ecosystems. Building on this idea, BE-Rural will explore the potential of regional and local bio-based economies and support the development of bioeconomy strategies, roadmaps and business models. To this end, the project will focus on establishing Open Innovation Platforms (OIPs) within selected regions in five countries: Bulgaria, Latvia, North Macedonia, Poland and Romania.


Assessing the Potential

From fisheries to roses, each region has different resource potentials. In a first step, BE-Rural will research existing and available sustainable technologies, biomass potentials and (small-scale) business models for a bio-based economy. Their potential for local deployment in the individual regions will be assessed, taking into account policy frameworks and stakeholder participation. At the same time, BE-Rural’s regional partners will focus on solidifying and expanding their regional bioeconomy networks, identifying and reaching out to additional stakeholder groups.


Engaging Local People

Broad engagement is at the centre of BE-Rural. Citizens, teachers and students will be involved through innovative formats such as bio-based pop-up stores, educational seminars, summer schools or webinars. The goal of these events: to stimulate understanding and interest in supporting their regional bioeconomy. These engagement activities will make the bioeconomy feasible with the help of actual bio-based products; will inform people about the complex economic, environmental and societal opportunities and challenges of the bioeconomy; and will explain its linkage and relevancy for the ongoing sustainability (SDG) debate.


Developing Regional Strategies

Building upon the knowledge generated, local key stakeholders from academia, business, policy and civil society will come together to discuss regional potentials and develop bio-based strategies and roadmaps. Together with bio-based innovators, BE-Rural will also analyse market needs and local conditions, as well as identify promising (small-scale) business models. To keep the momentum and ensure broad support for the further development of the selected regional bioeconomies, the exchange will be consolidated in a “Network of Knowledge”, in which best practices from the regions are shared at an interregional level.


Building on experience: BE-Rural is not starting from scratch

BE-Rural will build on good practices generated in the context of the recently completed H2020 project “Promoting Stakeholder Engagement and Public Awareness for a Participative Governance of the European Bioeconomy” (BioSTEP).


Overall project coordination and management

WP1 Project coordination and management (Lead: Ecologic Institute)

WP1 will ensure continuous communication between project partners, the European Commission and counterparts in relevant Horizon 2020 projects, and will be in charge of project logistics, reporting, and financial management. WP1 will also manage the project’s Advisory Board, which will provide strategic advice and insights on political priorities in relation to bioeconomy and innovation, and coordinate the regional activities in the five innovation regions.


Regional potentials and business models

WP2 Regional potentials and business models (Lead: WIP Renewable Energies)

WP2 will identify new, sustainable technology options and bio-based business models suitable for local deployment. WP2 will facilitate technical knowledge sharing by means of an easy to understand handbook, which will be available in seven languages. Furthermore, WP2 will assess the policy frameworks in the five innovation regions as well as their bioeconomy potentials.


Education, awareness and engagement

WP3 Education, awareness and engagement (Lead: BIOCOM)

The ambition of WP3 is to support the regional strategy and roadmap development processes by providing access to education on sustainability and the bioeconomy and by raising society’s awareness of the bioeconomy. WP3 will produce educational materials and multimedia applications and will organise a number of educational and public events (bio-based pop-up stores and interactive workshops) in the five innovation regions. In addition, a teacher’s summer school on sustainability and the bioeconomy will be organised.


Knowledge exchange and capacity building

WP4 Knowledge exchange and capacity building (Lead: University of Strathclyde)

WP4 will establish a ‘Network of Knowledge’ across European regions to facilitate sharing of good practices and lessons learned. As a key activity, WP4 will support knowledge exchange to increase the capacities of regional/local authorities and other key stakeholders on establishing framework conditions for the creation of new bio-based value chains. To this extent, a series of capacity-building seminars will be organised in the five innovation regions and an R&I capacity building workshop will be organised.


Regional strategies and roadmaps

WP5 Regional strategies and roadmaps (Lead: Ecologic Institute)

WP5 will focus on the development of small-scale business models and the formulation of concrete strategy and roadmap documents. This process will be steered by regional Stakeholder Working Groups (SWGs) which will be set up in each of the five innovation regions. The SWGs will elaborate on suitable small-scale bio-based business models and formulate concrete strategy and roadmap documents in dedicated co-creation spaces.


Dissemination, communication and exploitation

WP6 Dissemination, communication and exploitation (Lead: BIOCOM)

Based on a detailed communication, dissemination and exploitation strategy, WP6 will disseminate and communicate the project’s results among a diversity of stakeholders. As a key component, WP6 contains a specific evaluation task, which summarizes the lessons learned from the project’s stakeholder and public engagement activities in WPs 3, 4 and 5. These lessons learned will be shared with regions across Europe and be prepared for uptake in relevant EU-level policy processes.