What is bioeconomy and how is Bavaria leading the way?
Did you know that wood can be harnessed to create a wide range of products, from tires to pharmaceuticals, in an environmentally sustainable manner? This serves as just one illustration of how renewable bio-based resources have the potential to transform our current fossil-fueled economy into a sustainable bioeconomy. Let's delve into this potential and examine how Bavaria is spearheading its dedicated bioeconomy initiative known as "Future.Bioeconomy.Bavaria."
The circular bioeconomy is poised to play a substantial role in climate protection. This can be accomplished by utilizing bio-based carbon, sourced from the absorption of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), in recyclable products, thereby mitigating CO2 emissions originating from fossil-based carbon sources. But the bioeconomy's scope extends beyond emissions reduction; it also strives to enhance resource efficiency while fostering new opportunities for economic growth and innovation.
Cross-industry innovation, the catalyst for advancing the bioeconomy, will be crucial across various sectors. Bavaria is exceptionally well-suited to lead the way in this regard, boasting a robust collaborative ethos, an extensive network of research and development facilities, cluster initiatives within relevant industry sectors, and abundant reserves of raw materials. The Bavarian bioeconomy strategy, "Future.Bioeconomy.Bavaria," which was unveiled at the end of 2020, solidified this vision by outlining no fewer than 50 concrete measures aimed at positioning the region as a pioneer in sustainable products and production methods.
How does the bioeconomy function?
At its core, the bioeconomy revolves around the sustainable utilization of bio-based materials, encompassing renewable biological resources like plants, animals, and microorganisms within a circular framework.
Consider wood, for instance.
Biorefineries possess the capability to break down wood and straw into their constituent components to a significant extent. Cellulose, the most prevalent biomolecular component in plant biomass, can be employed not only in paper production but also in textiles, medical products, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals. Hemicelluloses yield xylose, the foundation for xylitol (a sugar substitute) and furfural, a vital platform chemical for pharmaceutical production.
Lignin functions as a dispersant or binding agent in building materials, textiles, and wood-based industries. It also forms the basis for various specific products, including aromatic substances like vanillin, as well as ethene, benzene, and acetylene. Additionally, lignin can serve as a raw material for biocarbon fibers.
The bioeconomy encompasses a diverse array of biogenic materials and sectors, spanning agriculture, forestry, fisheries, food production, biofuels, bioplastics, bio-based chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and more. In Bavaria, while the primary focus will center on wood and straw, it is by no means limited to these resources.
For a comprehensive overview of Bavaria's bioeconomy, you can click here. It continues to evolve, but its presence is already highly visible, with numerous successful companies embracing technologies to produce next-generation materials or pioneering breakthrough products.
Business examples from Bavaria's Bioeconomy
Wisefood initially conceived as a student project, has evolved into a rapidly growing food tech company. They have successfully introduced millions of products that offer sustainable alternatives to plastic items. Presently, their product portfolio comprises over 1,000 items exported to more than 20 countries worldwide. Noteworthy among their innovations are "SUPERHALM" and "superstraw," which have collectively replaced more than 100 million plastic straws. SUPERHALM, made from fruit fibers sourced from a byproduct of apple juice production in addition to durum wheat or semolina, is available in various sizes. Wisefood counts renowned hotel groups and businesses in the hospitality sector among its clientele.
AMSilk, headquartered near Munich in Neuried, is on a mission to create intelligent biotech materials for everyday use. As the world's inaugural industrial supplier of smart biotech materials based on silk proteins, the company transforms synthetic proteins into diverse silk formulations. These include fibers, yarns for textiles, sprayable compounds, hydrogels, and silk powder for both medical and consumer applications. Special programming enables customization for specific end uses or desired properties. AMSilk caters to a wide spectrum of applications, spanning advanced materials like sports shoe composites to medical applications such as coating breast implants for infection prevention and reduced postoperative complications. These examples merely scratch the surface of the myriad applications across various industries.
Landpack, headquartered in Alling, has been making strides in sustainable thermal packaging. Over 1,000 customers in sectors ranging from food and pet food to pharmaceuticals and life sciences rely on their environmentally friendly solutions. Since 2014, Landpack has been working tirelessly to supplant conventional polystyrene packaging, notorious for its challenging disposal, with high-performance alternatives derived from renewable raw materials like straw and hemp.
Papierfabrik Louisenthal, renowned for its extensive array of banknote and security document substrates and innovative security features, stands as the gold standard in banknote security. A recognized leader in its field, the company's scientists and engineers continually pioneer advanced technology solutions, processes, and services for banknotes and security papers. Notably, in collaboration with its parent company Giesecke & Devrient, Louisenthal initiated the “Green Banknote Initiative” This initiative aimed to create a banknote with the smallest carbon footprint possible, without compromising durability or security. The result is impressive: The Green Banknote emits 29% less CO2 and utilizes 86% less plastic than polymer banknotes, all while maintaining the same longevity.
Why Bavaria is the Ideal Location for Your Bioeconomy Venture
Exceptional Infrastructure: In addition to its exceptional infrastructure, Bavaria offers a robust research ecosystem. Abundant sustainable wood resources from forestry provide an excellent source of raw materials.
Skilled Workforce: Highly skilled and trained personnel can be readily accessed from renowned institutions like the Technical University of Munich (TUM) the Friedrich-Alexander University (FAU), and Hof University, which offer comprehensive bachelor's and master's programs.
Promotion of Innovation: The key ingredients for bioeconomy success are a broad knowledge base and the promotion of innovation. Bavaria established the TUM Campus Straubing for Biotechnology and Sustainability (TUMCS) to facilitate interdisciplinary research and education in the bioeconomy. Moreover, the Rosenheim University of Applied Sciences hosts the Centre for Biobased Materials (ZBM), which focuses on creating high-quality products with new functionalities by harnessing the natural properties of wood, in line with the circular bioeconomy philosophy.
Collaboration Networks: Through the Bavarian Cluster Initiative, companies and research institutions are interconnected to streamline collaborative projects. Several clusters encompassing biotechnology, chemicals, nutrition, forestry and wood, industrial biotechnology, new materials, and the environment unite companies and research entities in these respective domains.
Bavarian Bioeconomy Strategy: Finally, the Bavarian Bioeconomy Strategy, encompassing a wide range of initiatives from public education to biorefinery development, seeks to bolster the local bioeconomy. It fosters cross-industry innovation and collaboration not only at the local level but also on the international stage
- International Research Collaboration: In line with this ethos, international collaborations are already underway. For instance, the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging has partnered with the Fraunhofer Project Center for Innovation in Food and Bioresources at ITAL (Institute for Food Technology) in Campinas, Brazil, to explore the processing of high-quality raw materials and foods such as coffee, chocolate, and tropical fruits, as well as the utilization of biogenic raw materials and residual materials for industrial applications.
If you have further questions about the bioeconomy or are interested in Bavaria as a business location, you are welcome to contact our partner Invest in Bavaria, the business promotion agency of the State of Bavaria.
Since its foundation in 1999, Invest in Bavaria assists national and international companies to set up or expand business operations in Bavaria. Invest in Bavaria provides customized information, helps find the ideal location in Bavaria, and identifies and connects with the key contacts required for project implementation: public sector agencies and associations as well as relevant local networks and partners. The services offered by Invest in Bavaria are free of charge and, of course, all inquiries are treated confidentially.