• Expected impact on science, civilisation and society

The early identification of key technological convergence areas will primarily affect the target-setting and orientation of further scientific research, and will thus speed up the arrival of the more disrupting bio-tsunami effects. On a parallel line of action, the formulation of foresight scenarios, i.e., future world models, taking into account the technological convergence trends, will provide our cultures and societies with efficient tools to shape their future, and enrich their power to manage change. This is especially the case of less developed areas in Europe (rural, former industrial, mountain, coastal, fragile ecosystems, etc.), which will be able to plan ahead for their sustainable development.

  • 12+1 Strategic reasons to monitor and optimize the emergence of bioeconomy

The Knowledge-Based BioEconomy (or KBBE) is an integral part of the current EU 2020 strategy for a number of serious reasons, which will be examined in the BIO-TSUNAMI research activities:

  1. HIGH STAKES: Most of the key bioeconomy sectors are of a high strategic interest for Europe and the world (e.g., food, farming, plant and animal health, forest), thus raising the stakes for immediate action and/or inaction, particularly at the policy level.
  2. CHANGE DYNAMICS: The “winds of change” threaten the status quo in almost all EU bioeconomy fields, acting on both supply and demand, and destabilizing century-long equilibria; see, e.g., the effects of emerging economies on the management of global bioresources.
  3. INNOVATION POTENTIAL: Unlocking the potential of the bio-world constitutes a major challenge for European researchers and innovators, offering opportunities for synergistic and accelerated development of novel products, services, tools, methods and solutions.
  4. ENVIRONMENTAL ASPECTS: Making good use of the growing reservoir of biological knowledge, and especially the environmental biotechnology’s potential, could lead to a symbiotic development of environment-friendly applications in all bioeconomy areas.
  5. CLIMATE CHANGE: The bio-world offers its unique properties for the mitigation of the climatic change vectors, e.g., greenhouse gases, through photosynthetic, and other biological pathways, along with the generation of climate-neutral solutions, e.g., clean bioenergy/biofuels.
  6. SUBSTITUTION: Fossil, non-sustainable organic resources, products and conversion chains can be replaced by sustainable bio-based resources, products and processing chains; this represents a key step for Europe to reach its GHG reduction goals, and lower its dependence upon fossils (oil, coal and gas) and the associated economic and political risks of their supply.
  7. SOCIO-ECONOMIC ASPECTS: Keeping a bioeconomy perspective facilitates matching of the rapidly changing societal needs and concerns to an also changing production base; at the same time, bioeconomy represents a great source of future employment. Thus, bioeconomy research should be continuously orientated towards developing country issues, in coordination with development policies.
  8. BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES: Along with the support of several KBBE-related European industries, e.g., food, pharmaceuticals, biochemicals, forest-products, a bioeconomy strategy could open the way to new “waves” of SMEs and other business, and new breeds of entrepreneurship.
  9. POLICY COORDINATION: The critical but extremely complex task of coordinating regional, national and other policies concerning all bioeconomy sectors and their interactions can only be performed within a unified, KBBE-like policy frame.
  10. REGIONAL NICHES: The deployment of bioeconomy and biosociety applications could mobilize local and regional natural and human resources in utilisation directions respecting local cultures and traditions, and even building upon them to develop regional niches of sustainable growth.
  11. EUROPEAN VALUE: The progress of European integration (economic, social, political, other) cannot stop at the gates of the biological world; by their nature, bio/eco-systems resist to artificial borderlines, so their rational management could benefit from a unified EU KBBE frame.
  12. GLOBAL DEVELOPMENT: The majority of the less developed countries depend upon their bioeconomies for survival and growth, e.g., cash crops, food and fibre exports; research on bioprocesses that could upgrade such feedstocks are of high importance for sustainable development.
  13. A SMART MOVE: Intelligence is one of the functions of biological systems, in most cases being integrated to the life-cycle of the organisms or the operation of ecosystems; therefore, in order to target a really smart EU economy, the Commission should also take advantage of the bioeconomy-embedded intelligence.

   •  Expected impact of the proposed research on the host institution

- A New Age Model: The present structure of the host institution, with its more than 10 different technological sections, offers unique possibilities for the application of the proposed methodology to the host institution’s internal situation, i.e., use it as a model to analyse the approaching bio-tsunami, while re-structuring itself to accommodate – and benefit from - the coming waves.

- Timely Think-Tank: At the same time, and to the degree that the combined foresight/technology convergence agenda will be incorporated into the structure and functions of the host institution, the latter could develop into a specialized technology strategy and policy-support agency, i.e., a valuable think-tank emerging in place and time to assist socio-technical change.