Skip main navigation

New offer! Get 30% off one whole year of Unlimited learning. Subscribe for just £249.99 £174.99. New subscribers only T&Cs apply

Find out more

Barriers to going ‘bio-based’

In this video Dr Adrian Higson from NNFCC discusses the barriers facing the development of the bioeconomy.
The bioeconomy is a core part of the wider economy. In Europe, the production of food, timber, and materials such as paper from forestry and agriculture creates over EUR 614 billion of value added and employs over seventeen million people. However, the bioeconomy has the potential to be far larger. It has the ability to convert renewable resources into sustainable chemicals and novel materials, reducing both fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. To realise these opportunities, we need to turn invention into innovation and turn the potential into reality. Innovation happens within an ecosystem, every ecosystem has a core set of functions, all of which play an important role in the innovation process.
The system needs a clear direction for development, articulating the societal need and challenge; it needs the expertise to develop technology, the ability to spread the knowledge to those that can use it, it needs the resources (finance, people, feedstocks etc) to make things happen, a marketplace in which to sell products and the entrepreneurs to take new technology or products to market. Barriers or inefficiencies in any aspect of the innovation system will ultimately delay or prevent novel products or processes from being commercialised. In complex innovation systems such as the bioeconomy a clear direction for development is paramount. At the national level this means clear Government support and cohesive policies which support development and provide certainty and security for entrepreneurs and investors.
Currently, too many competing views on how bioresources should be used and a lack of consensus on how sustainable bioeconomy development should be measured is hindering progress. One of the largest barriers to bioeconomy development lies in the embedded cost advantage of the highly developed fossil fuel and petrochemical industries. Transitioning away from fossil fuel consumption requires policies and actions which address this economic imbalance and create market conditions which stimulate the uptake of new sustainable products. These actions can be a combination of soft enabling measures such as the development of standards or the use of labelling to support consumer understanding, and the use of harder measures through tax, market regulations or the use of quotas.
The UK has a recognised academic expertise in bioscience and green chemistry. However, a lack of focused resources that enables multidisciplinary working and allows academics and industry to work effectively together creates a barrier to technical development, particularly when piloting or demonstrating new technologies A lack of technical and market knowledge across stakeholders can create a barrier to the formation of new supply chains. It is important that mechanisms such as networks are in place to allow new market and technical knowledge to reach all stakeholders and enable the formation of new value chains. The bioeconomy offers great potential for sustainable development but it is also a complex innovation space.
To optimise the innovation potential all aspects of the innovation system need to be considered and barriers addressed.

Over seventeen million people currently work in the European bioeconomy, but it has the potential to be much larger than this.

How can we turn bioeconomy potential into reality? What are the barriers to development of the bioeconomy and how can we address these?

This article is from the free online

Bioeconomy: How Renewable Resources Can Help the Future of Our Planet

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now