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Experiencing the Bioeconomy Ecosystem in Motion

The Scaling Up Conference will take place November 5th to 8th at the Fairmont Château Laurier in Ottawa. This year the focus will be Competing in the Global Bioeconomy Market. Global Advantage is delighted to attend the conference once again and we hope to see you there.

Scaling Up is a catalyst for players in the bioeconomy. The event facilitates connections and collaborations within industry and between sectors. It is a chance for us to observe the innovation ecosystem of the bioeconomy in motion, and engage with the key players who direct, exchange, and produce the flows (i.e. resources, information, materials, investment, labor) that fuel the bioeconomy ecosystem.

Featuring many discussion panels across industries that makeup the bioeconomy, the conference is also an opportunity for supporting players such as the federal and provincial governments and research institutions to re-align their priorities and determine what gaps they can fill and which projects they should invest their resources into. In turn, industry can also communicate their policy needs and how they can support Canada and the provinces in reaching environmental, economic, and innovation budget goals.

 

Key Insights from Scaling Up and this Past Year of Projects

The 2017 conference featured speakers and representatives from government and policymakers as well as from forestry, agriculture, waste, energy, and chemical industries. There were several common themes that emerged and have re-emerged since.

  • Connecting with the right players is necessary for scaling-up and competing in mature markets that are already dominated by fossil fuel based companies and products. Actively engaging in a collaborative hub from start-up to scale-up, and then expansion is crucial for solving innovation challenges, obtaining the funding and investment for R&D, having access to facilities and talent, and co-creating new supply chains. Global Advantage maps out these resources in our sector and network maps, so our clients have a wider view of who to connect with and which programs and opportunities are available for their specific needs.
  • Although industry is leading the bioeconomy, a focused government strategy is crucial for the success of industry and to align growth with the values of communities that will power the bioeconomy. CCFM (Canadian Council of Forest Ministers) is designing the implementation of Canada’s Forest Bioeconomy Framework and there are many federal and provincial initiatives across the country that directly or indirectly support the bioeconomy. However, the intended outcomes of these efforts are vague and don’t target specific subsectors, regions or potential supply-chains. We know that the intention of the framework is to grow, make more jobs, create value-added clean products, support innovation, and build relationships with indigenous communities. Nevertheless, specific goals and strategies on how to achieve them have yet to be developed. Different sectors of the bioeconomy are facing technology, capital, investment, transport, and other market barriers that require ongoing support from start-up to market entry and expansion. Ecosystem maps provide clarity of where focused efforts would add greater value to Canada’s economy, communities and environment.
  • The definition of the bioeconomy depends on perspective and interests. Having a solid strategy and plan for the bioeconomy can ensure that the Canadian Bioeconomy is defined and supported based on how Canadians value and are connected to the natural resources that support the bioeconomy. Ecosystem maps visually illustrate the scope of an ecosystem and what actions, industries and policies are feeding value back into the ecosystem and who is benefitting.

 

What is the bioeconomy? Why is it so important?

Depending on who you ask, the bioeconomy will have drastically different boundaries, but there are common features. The bioeconomy is environmentally sustainable management, development, and use of biological resources (e.g. aquaculture, forestry, agriculture, non-timber forest resources and biological waste) to generate economic activity by using advanced processes to produce value-added products, re-use biomass, or substitute less environmentally beneficial products and processes. Here are 3 key features:

  • First, the bioeconomy is integrated with the circular economy. Most of our products and residues from extraction and industrial processes end up in a landfill. In the bioeconomy, every resource grown, chopped or collected is intended to start or re-integrate into the cycle of production or the ecological cycle. This could mean producing products that are bio-based and breakdown easily into nutrient and soil-safe compostable materials. Another example is extending the life cycle of biomass waste (from extraction, production and use) by remanufacturing goods or re-using the waste as bioenergy. There is also the development of processes that create durable goods from renewable resources. In short, the bioeconomy reduces landfill waste.
  • Second, the bioeconomy is integrated with the cleantech sector. While the bioeconomy is not emissions free and requires the use of land and other resources, it offers alternatives methods to manage resources, produce, re-use and re-manufacture more sustainably. It can provide cleaner alternatives to GHG and water intensive industrial processes, as well as fossil fuel-based chemicals, materials and energy.
  • Third, the bioeconomy is leading new developments and is built on advanced and novel technology. For example, genomics technologies improve the sustainability of forests, crops and fish stocks by protecting them from disease and fire. Moreover, microbial engineering, the manipulation of microorganisms, is used in processes to make biofuels. Further, new taller and larger wooden buildings that decrease the carbon footprint of construction are now possible because of new laminated and composite timber products in addition to advanced structural designs that are durable, energy efficient and enjoyable for living, work and recreational purposes.

 

Recent Global Advantage Bioeconomy Projects

Since last year’s Scaling Up conference, Global Advantage has delved deeper into researching and mapping out specific sectors and industries within the bioeconomy landscape. More recently, Global Advantage mapped the Emerging Cannabis Sector – including its key players, flows of resources, market opportunities and risks. Earlier in 2018, Global Advantage finished a skeleton map of the Forest Bioeconomy Ecosystem for the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers. Based on CCFM’s Forest Bioeconomy Framework, the map was used to facilitate discussion between the provinces and federal government on how to define the bioeconomy, its structure, and associated publicly available information and information gaps.

Global Advantage has been involved in other related projects in the past year, including a map on Canada’s Upstream Forestry Research and an update of our Forestry Sector Innovation Map.