Engaging in the growing bioeconomy

New Zealand has an opportunity to be more actively engaged with European biobased technologies and networks, says General Manager Manufacturing and Bioproducts, Dr Elspeth MacRae. Elspeth was asked to represent New Zealand at the European Bioeconomy Stakeholders Conference and the OECD Present and Future Policy for Biobased Production, in Italy last year.

“We’re already operating as a bioeconomy with most of our land and exports based on the sustainable use of renewable resources, for example, food and forest products. There are still some issues to work on, like intensification and its impact on the land, food safety, infrastructure and connectedness. But there is much to be gained from us participating in biobased initiatives with Europe.

“Horizon 2020, for example, is the biggest ever European research and innovation programme aimed at taking innovative ideas from the lab to the marketplace. It’s hailed as the blueprint for Europe’s smart and sustainable growth. New Zealand can be part of that.”

Elspeth said the growing bioeconomy in Europe was changing the way business operates, with greater focus on diversification, integration and the use of multiple feedstocks. A successful bioeconomy is based on ‘smart specialisation’ at a regional level, and strong collaborations within and between regions.

“The challenge for New Zealand is to build new industry clusters outside of the dominant primary food producers,” says Elspeth. “We have an abundance of renewable resources and the opportunity to use these more smartly. Greater involvement in international initiatives will allow us to expand these opportunities further and tap into innovative new ideas and technologies that support a cleaner, more sustainable environment”.

For further information
Contact Dr Florian Graichen