In the previous edition of ClusterNews, we reported that the Federal Minister for Education and Research had already promised up to three million euros in research funding for the implementation of the internationalisation concept submitted by BioEconomy this past year. In rather more detail, we now wish to introduce to you the strategy developed by this Leading Edge cluster, which mainly depends on the integration of medium-sized companies into international collaboration and markets, and to inform you of the upcoming steps in the following weeks and months.
Since its establishment in 2012, the BioEconomy Leading Edge cluster has combined the timber-producing and processing industries with the chemical and energy-conversion industry as a cross-sector value-creation network and integrated these into a chemical site. Thanks to the commitment of this cluster’s members, it has been possible to consolidate extensive expertise regarding beech wood as a raw material, which has enabled its direct and commercial use by regional companies across the entire value-creation chain – from the extraction of the raw material to the production of chemical products and exploitation of residual and waste materials. Through the successful fusion of companies at various levels of the value-creation chain, it has been possible to establish Central Germany as a model bio-economic region in the nation over the past few years. In order to thus enhance the significance and attractiveness of the regional location and with this, create profit for the entire zone, international marketing offers numerous advantages.
Companies organised within the BioEconomy cluster network mainly benefit from internationalisation in the area of technology development, through the possibility to licence technologies and open up further distribution channels. On the other hand, however, members also gain access to complementary technologies and extensive expertise in this way, together with experience, in order to advance the development of their own technology.
SMEs already frequently avail themselves of innovative ideas, valuable know-how and well-developed production plants, but do not have sufficient resources to go beyond national boundaries in their development and distribution. It is precisely at this point that the leading Edge cluster internationalisation concept comes into play.
In the internationalisation project ‘Beechwood International’, combined know-how in the field of the material use and energy processing of beech wood should be transferable to other types of biomass, or conversely, experience in dealing with other types of biomass will feed into the use of beech wood. Through intensive cooperation with international partners, themselves applying complementary competence, all partners – regardless of whether they are large enterprises or research facilities –but especially SMEs should benefit in terms of their further technological development. Their entry into the market for bio-based intermediate products and service provision will also be facilitated. For this purpose, BioEconomy could win important international partner clusters, tailored to the development potential, key areas of activity and knowledge possessed by BioEconomy’s members: Biobased Delta (the Netherlands), BioVale (Great Britain), CLIC (Finland), IAR (France) and SARI (China).
In February of this year, ‘Beechwood International’ launched the two-year design phase, during which three research and innovation projects should be defined and set in motion and for which a subsidy of one million euros will be made available in each case. In order to coordinate further strategic procedures, a ‘kick-off’ workshop was held on 1 March with representatives from all the cooperating clusters. The first meeting has thereby already revealed the enormous potential for synergy. This is because the raw materials converge in different ways throughout their value-creation chains, despite the focus of each individual cluster being on different end-commodities – from algae, to cereals and wood.
In this way, the first workshop was able to define as relevant topics: bio-refineries; the production of new enzymes for cellulose materials; the production of high-grade chemicals from waste produced by the food and pharmaceutical industries, and the extraction of formulae for the food and pharmaceutical industries, amongst other things.
Should you be interested in participating in the internationalisation programme or have your own ideas for projects, we would be happy for you to share or propose them.
Until the end of the year, six further workshops are planned – these include workshops in Lille, Amsterdam and Helsinki – in order to further specify strategic orientation, as well as engaging international medium-sized collaborating partners in the initiatives. Step by step, therefore, individual project ideas should be refined and elaborated upon in the workshops to develop a customised concept, geared towards the BioEconomy top cluster’s strategy and the desires and potential of its members. It is therefore especially important to the cluster management to keep all members informed of the detailed strategic work, so as to demonstrate opportunities to participate and to be able develop excellent project approaches using the entire cluster region.
The 6th International BioEconomy Conference on 10 and 11 May at the Leopoldina in Halle will provide an excellent opportunity to meet an important internationalisation programme partner in person and discuss any possibilities for participation on site. Taking part in the Conference, which the leading Edge cluster organises every year in collaboration with the Science Campus in Halle and which is the best-known bio-economy event in the whole of Germany, will be the French top cluster, IAR. Therefore, why not take this opportunity to establish important contacts and find out about the latest developments in the areas of, (1) Flavourings, fragrances and food supplements, (2) Cereals, (3) Wood and (4) Plant-based oils?
Click here for details of the event, the full programme and the registration form.