The bioeconomy carries the promise to offer important opportunities for rural employment and regional added value. The transition towards a more sustainable, bio-based regional economy and society requires the active involvement of a broad spectrum of stakeholders and citizens in the design of strategies, which promote a sustainable use of agricultural, forest and marine ecosystems. Building on this idea, the overall goal of BE-Rural is to explore the potential of regional and local bio-based economies by supporting relevant actors in the participatory development of bioeconomy strategies, roadmaps and business models. The project will focus on regions in five modest and moderate innovator countries: Latvia, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and North Macedonia.
As a first step, new, sustainable technology options suitable for local deployment and the biomass potential of the regions will be identified. Parallel to this, BE-Rural will establish five regional Open Innovation Platforms (OIPs) to kick-start the co-creation process, bringing together key stakeholders from academia, policy, business and civil society to develop ideas and capitalise on the identified bioeconomy potential. Furthermore, BE-Rural will raise awareness of the bioeconomy among citizens and stakeholders in the OIP regions and promote broad engagement. Activities will include research & innovation capacity-building workshops, educational seminars and webinars, summer schools, and bio-based pop-up stores. Building from this, BE-Rural will establish a 'Network of Knowledge' to share knowledge and lessons learned from the OIPs at an inter-regional level, further disseminating best practices, closing the information gap on issues related to sustainability, and increasing regional capacities of authorities and stakeholders. Finally, BE-Rural will link the identified bio-based business models to the regional context, will assess their market potentials and develop regional bioeconomy strategies and roadmaps.
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), coordinated by Ecologic Institute. Besides designing and implementing a wide range of targeted engagement activities, BioSTEP assisted two regions in Italy and Bulgaria in formulating appropriate and effective programmes of measures to foster their regional bioeconomies. The design of regional strategies and roadmaps as well as the stakeholder engagement activities in BE-Rural will build on the lessons learned from BioSTEP, and the BE-Rural team will ensure full transparency of project activities and their outcomes to allow subsequent projects and initiatives to build on BE-Rural experiences.
Ecologic Institute is responsible for the overall project coordination and leads a work package, which focuses on the development of small-scale business models and the formulation of concrete strategy and roadmap documents.