Munster Technological University are partners in new Horizon Europe project MainstreamBIO, aimed at supporting deployment of a circular bioeconomy with primary producers across rural regions in Europe. This €3 million initiative will support the realisation of the European Green Deal, which aims to see Europe becoming the first climate neutral continent without leaving people and places behind. The European Bioeconomy strategy recognises the opportunity for a bioeconomy to regenerate rural communities, creating sustainable new value chains and business models through the deployment of local small-scale bio-based technologies.
According to James Gaffey Co-director of Circular Bioeconomy Research Group at Shannon ABC in MTU, “The model of bioeconomy to be deployed is very region-specific, dependent on local resources, industries and stakeholders. Land use and sea access varies from region to region, creating diverse opportunities for regional bioeconomies. We are lucky in Ireland to have some have excellent land-based resources, with a primarily pasture-based agriculture system, and a large coastline offering enormous bioeconomy potential. Many other sectors such as forestry, tillage, horticulture, wool and others, also have significant potential to benefit from Ireland’s emerging bioeconomy”.
MainstreamBIO comes at a very interesting time for Ireland which has ambitious targets to reduce emissions by 51% by 2030, including a 25% reduction in agriculture with the overall aim of achieving climate neutrality by 2050. A sustainable bioeconomy offers a pathway for agriculture and primary production sectors to reduce emissions, while diversifying incomes through the production of sustainable materials, energy and fertilisers. MainstreamBIO will build on previous projects of MTU and its project partners, including Biorefinery Glas, Power4Bio, Be-Rural, BIOVOICES, COOPID and ICT-BIOCHAIN, bringing forward knowledge and results on small-scale bio-based solutions, and supporting implementation of these through innovation support services and a prototype Multi-Criteria Decision Support System (DSS) to support farmers and other primary producers in identifying sustainable small-scale bio-based solutions that make the most out of local biomass in line with market demand.
According to MainstreamBIO coordinator, Evangelia Tsagaraki, project manager in Q-PLAN International, “we aim to support implementation of small-scale biobased technologies which require low levels of investment, with low risk and technical sophistication, and which can be plugged into existing primary production, food and bio-based value chains or which can stimulate alternative new value chains, taking advantage of local resources. A wide range of actors including farmers, cooperatives and technology providers, will be engaged through the project in order to bring the sustainability, societal and economic benefits of the bioeconomy to rural regions, in line with the European Bioeconomy Strategy”.
The MainstreamBIO approach will be implemented in 7 EU pilot regions, with diverse feedstocks, infrastructure and expertise. Participating regions included South-East Ireland (IE), Flevoland (NL), Lubelskie (PL), Midtjylland (DK), Middle Norrland (SE), South Central Bulgaria (BG), Valencian community (ES).
MainstreamBIO kicked off on 1st September 2022 and will run for 3 years. Partners include;
Q-PLAN International (Coordinator) (Greece), Munster Technological University (Ireland), Wageningen University (Netherlands), RiSE Processum (Sweden), White Research (Belgium), Institute of Soil Science and Plant Cultivation (Poland), Agraren Universitet Plovdiv (Bulgaria), Food and Bio Cluster (Denmark), Innovarum (Spain) and Draxis Environmental (Greece).