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KTN joins BEIS in Call for Evidence for Bioeconomy Strategy

Posted on 09/12/2016

Contributions will help articulate enormous potential for the sector.

Contributions will help articulate enormous potential for the sector.

By Yvonne Armitage, Bioeconomy Specialist

The bioeconomy is not new. In fact, for literally thousands of years, man relied on agricultural products to generate food, clothing, fuels and other goods. With the onset of cheap and plentiful oil in the middle of the 20th century, however, all that changed, and a whole plethora of new and exciting products, including plastics, were developed. Consumers benefited from and indeed embraced the variety on offer.

What is new in the bioeconomy today is the technologies and know-how, including synthetic biology, smart bioprocessing techniques and high throughput screening methodologies that will enable companies to exploit the use of renewable feedstocks – processing waste faster and more cost-effectively. And in using bio-based processes, a bioeconomy contributes to providing sustainable and resource efficient solutions, mitigating climate change through lower energy costs and less CO2 generation, reducing our reliance on fossil fuels as well as providing opportunities for new entirely new materials and products for use in a wide range of sectors from food to health, plastics to aerospace.

The UK is in an excellent position to capitalise on the bioeconomy opportunities on offer globally. Our R&D, particularly in some of the underpinning technologies in the academic base, is world class. The policy and funding environment also lends itself to supporting the growth of the bioeconomy. But there are still significant barriers to uptake, and what’s needed in order to harness the full potential is an overarching strategy for the bioeconomy that will bring together the various aspects right from feedstock production through product innovation to end user requirements.

This is why the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has launched a call for evidence for the bioeconomy, in order to gather intelligence on specific opportunities, challenges and needs, as well as to better understand the level of understanding of what a bioeconomy is. Both individual and corporate views are welcome.

Alongside industry stakeholders and research councils, KTN is supporting the call for evidence, as we know that many of our members are already playing pivotal roles in shaping the UK bioeconomy, whether they recognise it or not. Your views are very important in understanding what is needed for a coherent strategy that brings all elements of the supply chain together to increase productivity and realise the potential growth opportunities.