31st March 2021 - The European Interreg Project AlpLinkBioEco ended today with an online conference. The Project started three years ago as part of the EUSALP Alpine Macroregional Strategy with the purpose of developing interregional proposals for the enhancement of innovative supply chains operating in the circular bioeconomy sector.

AlpLinkBioEco, of which Chemie-Cluster Bayern is a partner, has dealt with the issues of bioeconomy and circular economy, considered an engine for competitiveness, bearers of added value for businesses and crucial elements to achieve the objectives of the EU Green Deal and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

To support the transition from a fossil fuel-based economy to a bio-based economy, an interactive database -the Value Chain Generator- was developed mapping hundreds of clusters and sectoral associations and thousands of companies and subsequently developing new value chains and opportunities for industrial symbiosis at local, national and transnational level. At the end of the Project, this database will be available to third parties under a specific software license.

Furthermore, several inputs from institutional and industrial stakeholders of the involved Alpine regions were collected and a shared action plan (Masterplan) was defined to stimulate the development of the bioeconomy in the Alpine Space.

Biobased innovation is born within "AlpLinkBioEco"-project (EU-INTERREG). We come up with innovative ideas, share them with companies, and match interested actors - we will support your way to the realization with our strong project consortium. Interested in knowing what's in for you? Contact Magdalena Buch from the Chemie-Cluster Bayern.

Deutschsprachige Informationen zum Projekt AlpLinkBioEco finden Sie hier.

On the 16th of February, a joint Alpine Policy Forum was held online. The event was organised in the frame of the two EU-funded projects that share common goals on the way to the circular biobased economy in the Alpine Space – AlpLinkBioEco and Smart SMEs. In addition, the forum was supported by the partners of the project ARDIA-Net.

The forum offered an open policy dialogue to exchange experiences and find common positions for the Alpine macro region regarding the circular biobased economy as well as to the digitalization of SMEs, which play a major role in the optimization of value chains based on sustainable resources. Involving the audience, 18 speakers and panellists talked about international dialogue to scale up the bioeconomy efforts into cross-regional dimension, approaches and tools to activate broken biobased value chains and digitalization of SMEs as one of the solutions to boost the development of biobased industries.

Keynote Prof. Dr. Ralf Kindervater from the state agency BIOPRO Baden-Württemberg, started the event with his speech “Overview and challenges of the Alpine macro-regional approach to bioeconomy” and identified the existence of many different bioeconomy strategies within the macro region as one of the main challenges.

Afterwards, regional representatives gave short introductions to their bioeconomy strategies. In 2019, the Austrian bioeconomy strategy was approved and in 2020 the new government declared bioeconomy one of their most important topics in their governmental programme. It is seen as a link between different policies, sectors, and ministries as well as a part of the climate policy. The strategy of Baden-Württemberg consists of 37 concrete measures supporting innovation and communication, including the training of professionals, and focusing on sustainable bioeconomy in industrial and rural areas. The mission is to promote the use of renewable and recyclable raw materials through innovative biological concepts.

The Bavarian bioeconomy strategy, which was released in November 2020, was presented by Dr. Markus Schaller from the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs, Regional Development and Energy. The comprehensive strategy was developed in a participatory process in five digital workshops with more than 300 participants from diverse stakeholder groups. It consists of ten chapters with 50 specific measures: two chapters identify the key issues to establish a circular economy and to strengthen cooperation, also across borders. The strategy focuses on the most relevant stakeholders in five chapters and addresses the society to display the necessity to change to bioeconomy. In 50 specific measures the Bavarian strategy foresees concrete realisations of which some have already started.

Italy’s very comprehensive bioeconomy strategy was published in 2019 and includes all its diverse regions. Their vision is to move from sectors to systems with a multidisciplinary approach. Slovenia does not have a separate bioeconomy strategy yet but includes the topic in various other strategies. However, their working document “Investment needs of the republic of Slovenia for the 2021-2027 period” includes the transition to a circular bioeconomy as a specific objective. Also, Switzerland does not have a special national bioeconomy strategy but a strong agriculture and forest policy.

The first panel discussion on cross-regional collaboration concluded, that exchange of information, ideas and experiences between regions is highly important. Existing platforms and programmes such as EUSALP and INTERREG programmes for cross-border cooperation should be used. However, it is also possible for cooperating partners to use regional funding for their cross-regional cooperation instead of waiting on special cross-regional funding programmes. Regional money is available and much easier to use than money from Brussels.

Another topic discussed by the participants was the activation of broken bio-based value chains in unforeseen circumstances, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a Harvard survey the crisis caused disruption in form of trade barriers, border restrictions and storage issues. Supply chains are broken and therefore the solution would be to find new, regional suppliers. A tool that could help here is the Value Chain Generator, developed within the AlpLinkBioEco project which enables finding complementary and similar actors.

Issues identified concerning digitalization are that SMEs are often not fully ready for a digital transformation, lack digital skills, have no access to professionals and the high costs. Furthermore, CEOs often lack the awareness of what is important for a digital transformation and as technology is moving fast, SMEs often cannot follow. Supporting SMEs in digital transformation it is important to establish flexible and fast measures and avoiding to much bureaucracy.

By the end of March 2021, the INTERREG project AlpLinkBioEco will terminate with a final conference where the project results, such as the Value Chain Generator tool will be presented and then be accessible to the public online.

The project partners have collected about 2000 actors in the Alpine space and identified more than 225 potential biolinks. These biolinks are business opportunities based on ideas for new biobased value creation. In order to verify whether these value chains are workable, the project partners have brought together relevant companies located in the Alpine space in so-called “piloting sessions”. In these well prepared exclusive online sessions the matched companies were able to discuss the viability of the business idea, its chances of success and issues crucial to a potential business cooperation.

One potential biolink was identified by the project partners of Chemie-Cluster Bayern, CSALP-University of Tuscia and Trentino Hub Innovation. In Trento, about 80 percent of the residues from forestry and sawmills, such as sawdust and wood chips, are used for energy purposes only. Therefore, the biolink idea is to further process the material in order to add higher value to this biomass. The German company LXP Group has established a process, where biomass is processed to separate cellulosic and lignin fractions. The LX-process creates no wast streams and a switch between biomass (e.g. wood chips to grass) is possible from one day to the next. The cellulose and lignin can be further converted into chemicals and high added value products. A possible strategic partnership between the suppliers of biomass in Trento (together with local chambers of commerce and the national ministry for agriculture) and the processor LXP in Germany was discussed in a “piloting session”.

The participants found the biolink, feasible and are now evaluating possible cooperation. In order to avoid long transportation routes and to reduce carbon emissions, the building of a new LX-process plant in Trento could be an option. Currently the biomass of the Trento region is tested by LXP.

In addition to the above explained biolink, the project partnership is currently working on more than 30 other company matches in order to promote biobased value creation. Furthermore, project partners are creating videos that explain the individual biolinks in further detail.

About the project:

The project AlpLinkBioEco promotes the sustainable, regional development in the Alpine space. It is funded with two million euro by the Interreg-Alpine Space 2012-2020 programme. The duration of the project is three years and will end in 2021. AlpLinkBioEco develops a strategy for a biobased circular economy beyond regional borders. The value chain generator, a digital tool developed within the project will generate and help to realise new, cross-sectoral value chains in the four industries wood, packaging, agriculture, and chemistry.

5th AlpLinkBioEco Project Meeting

The 5th project meeting of the Interreg project AlpLinkBioEco took place on May 11 and 12, 2020. Due to the current situation, 35 participants of the 14 project partners met online and not in Lyon as originally planned.

Since the last meeting in October 2019 in Linz, the Value Chain Generator, a web-based, learning softwoare for the generation of value chains, has been continuously optimized and filled with data. The project partners collected about 2000 actors from the Alpine region and, with the help of the tool, generated more than 200 potential biolinks, i.e. specific ideas for bio-based value creation. In order to test the actual feasibility of these biolinks, the respective companies will be contacted in the next step and invited to so-called piloting actions. The idea is to present the biolink ideas to relevant companies in small groups and to discuss their feasibility and prospect for success. The goal is the concrete implementation of new value chains.

A Policy Synthesis Report will analyse existing political guidelines of the participating regions. Futhermore, after preliminary talks with regional actors, an exchange of political decision-makers and industry representatives will be established. This will culminate at the beginning of next year in a transnational dialogue in the form of an Alpine Policy Forum.

The next physical project meeting is expected to take place in Lyon by the end of 2020.

About the project: AlpLinkBioEco is a project promoting sustainable, regional development in the Alpine region and receives funding of two million euros from the Interreg-Alpine Space 2012-2020 program. The project is scheduled for three years and will run until 2021. The aim of the project is the development of a strategy for a bio-based circular economy across regional borders.