The macro-environment surrounding BE-Rural’s Open Innovation Platforms

The macro-environment surrounding BE-Rural’s Open Innovation Platforms

Main topic: Regional profiles
Document / search engine: The macro-environment surrounding BE-Rural’s Open Innovation Platforms
Framework project: Bio-based Strategies and Roadmaps for Enhanced Rural and Regional Development in the EU
Short name of the project:
Website link: https://be-rural.eu/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/BE-Rural_D2.2_Macro-environment_OIPs.pdf
CORDIS link if relevant:
Short description:

With the recent update of its Bioeconomy Strategy, the guidance of its advisory bodies and the
engagement of regional groups and representatives, Europe has found a new track towards a
sustainable bioeconomy. It builds from the notion that regions are the most appropriate territorial level
at which to implement bioeconomy strategies, and it has found ample support in the various European
mechanisms for funding research, innovation and rural development initiatives. The BE-Rural project
incorporates this regional focus into its core vision, putting its regional Open Innovation Platforms
(OIPs) front and center in the process of studying the potential for regional bioeconomies, and
articulating and implementing strategies to make them a reality.
The richness of natural resources in the Strumica region of North Macedonia is a solid base for the
future economic development with a number of prosperous SMEs. The closeness and connection to
European borders and markets and the commitment of municipalities towards common development
renders the Strumica region an excellent candidate for development of a bioeconomy strategy.
However, the region’s strong outflow of young people – particularly educated ones – as well as lack of
direct investment and absence of standardised agricultural production pose challenges to bioeconomy
development. Overall, better collaboration between educational institutions, research and development
units, businesses, the authorities and the wider public will need to be established to secure the efforts
within and beyond this project bear fruits.
In the Stara Zagora region of Bulgaria, collaboration already exists among some key bioeconomy
stakeholders such as educational institutions, research and development units, and local businesses.
Various levels of authority in the region have already acknowledged their co-responsibility for the
implementation of a regional bioeconomy strategy. This provides solid footing for progress developing
the bioeconomy in the region. The structure of Stara Zagora’s economy, with a mix of small- and
medium sized enterprises, offers good opportunities for growth and for the creation of new and more
valuable jobs. On the other hand, public awareness of the bioeconomy concept (and environmental
concerns in general) is low in Bulgaria. Collaboration among all relevant stakeholders will thus require
substantial financial, human, and technical resources.
In the Polish Baltic Lagoon regions, cooperation between the relevant administrative units and
interested entrepreneurs, as well as scientific entities, is also already taking place at the local level.
Regional connections of various economic and social entities driven by Fishery Local Action Groups
established in the regions will be the basis for creating a vision of regional development on the basis
of the circular bioeconomy. The promotion of traditional, often forgotten recipes and the application of
innovative technologies such as freeze-drying are the efforts being considered to bring undervalued,
underused fishery resources back into the mainstream. Given the strong dependence of the regions’
economies on tourism, it will be crucial to establish strong communication channels between
stakeholders, identify the points of synergy and engage in close collaboration to avoid detrimental
competition between economic sectors.
With the bioeconomy being on the radar screen of politicians at the national level in Latvia, and a
national bioeconomy strategy through 2030 already formulated for the country, conditions are good for
regional counterparts to be developed. The Vidzeme and Kurzeme regions’ economic focus on primary
resource sectors, primarily agriculture and forestry, renders them well-suited for a bioeconomy strategy
that builds ties among businesses and other relevant institutions in the agriculture and forestry value
chain. However, to achieve the set goals, large investments on innovation and product development,
branding and marketing, as well as the expansion and modernization of production facilities and
infrastructure, will be necessary.
Lastly, the abundance of bioresources in the Covasna region of Romania, combined with the variety
of specialized clusters that have been previously established in the region and are driving innovation
on renewable energy and environmental technologies, agro-foods, forestry products, and textiles,
reveal promising conditions for the formulation and rollout of an integrated bioeconomy strategy. And
while natural resources are ample and a large array of policy and regulation mechanisms are in place to protect them, the main challenges in the region remain the effective monitoring of illegal extraction
and enforcement of regulation. Overall, the awareness and engagement of the stakeholders in the
region regarding the potential of the bioeconomy promises to drive effective action in the near term.
In providing an outline of the macro-environment at each of the OIP regions, this task has also served
to shed light on key points of collaboration between them, confirming previous notions of potential
synergies and revealing new areas where the regional bioeconomies of BE-Rural could complement
each other and contribute to the vision of a sustainable EU-wide bioeconomy.


Countries/regions described/represented: Bulgaria, Latvia, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania
Year: 2019