The BIOEAST Vision for 2030 paves the way for a comprehensive macro-regional Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA). Within the frame of the BIOEASTsUP project, a draft BIOEAST SRIA has been developed during the past one and a half years with the active involvement of the BIOEAST Thematic Working Groups (TWGs). The SRIA will provide the Member States and the European Institutions with a strategic research and innovation programme to support the knowledge-driven bioeconomy in the BIOEAST macro-region whilst strengthening the whole European Research Area.

The very first BIOEAST SRIA will be finalized by the beginning of 2023. Stakeholder validation is of key importance in the process, therefore, in order to validate and finetune the draft document three sub-regional validation workshops were organized during the autumn of 2022. The first workshop took place in Ljubljana /Slovenia/ for South Eastern Europe on 26 September 2022; the second in Tartu /Estonia/ for the Baltic States on 12 October 2022 and the third in Warsaw /Poland/ for Central and Eastern Europe between 25-26 October 2022. Wide spectrum of stakeholders got involved (altogether with more than 100 participants), they belong to the agenda of several ministries – agriculture, environment, research and innovation, transport and also internal affairs. The outcome of the stakeholder discussions at the workshops will be taken into account for the final preparation of the BIOEAST SRIA.

During the workshops, discussion groups were organised on each BIOEAST thematic areas. The discussion focused on goals and challenges, main research topics, expected outcomes and impact for better-addressing research and innovation needs for the BIOEAST macro-region. Short conclusions of each TWG  are the following:

TWG Agroecology and Sustainable Yields: the most important outcome of the agroecology SRIA validation was clearly the information from the stakeholders that the SRIA document covers well the research topics and expected outcomes in this area. For this reason, during the workshop the focus was mainly on the formulation of existing topics in order to best convey the information they contain. Among these, the Animal Health and Welfare, Short food supply chains and rural development and Soil management thematic areas received more attention.

TWG Advanced Bio-based Chemical and Materials: highlighted the need for actual data on the available biomass regarding to both quality and quantity along with the need for multiple input – multiple output biorefineries for high value-added materials and high value-added biobased products, regardless of the biomass source. The topics received positive feedback, the participants highlighted that this thematic is very much business oriented, thus economical prospects should also be considered.

TWG Bioeconomy Education: regarding the inputs for the SRIA, the TWG discussions focused on the need for capacity building, coaching in all level, trainings, awareness-raising, both supply-side and demand-side, reinforcing the vocational training according to the needs of related stakeholders and end-users, likewise closer collaboration with the industry.

TWG Bioenergy and New Value-added Materials: the discussion revealed that several horizontal themes should be elaborated and distributed among TWGs. One of the major topics discussed is the lack of data on biomass availability, which entails the problem of what to focus on in bioenergy. The proposition was to include more research topics in relation to value-added materials and give importance to technology for the production, storage, and usage of energy (such as hydrogen and P2G).

TWG Food Systems: during the presentation of the TWG”s thematic SRIA, the complementarity of the adopted strategic research areas was pointed out, which addresses the different elements of the supply chain while considering the supply and demand side in food systems. The discussion focused on the possibilities for practical use of the adopted approach in the thematic SRIA in better addressing challenges in public policies.

TWG Forestry Value Chains: discussion was oriented to individual challenges identified in the forestry thematic SRIA, emphasizing need of innovation in each of presented challenges. Especial emphasis was on digitization, sustainability, resources efficiency, and circularity in forestry, sawmill industry and pulp and paper processing. 

TWG Freshwater-based Bioeconomy: discussed the ongoing mapping of aquaculture topics and  wide spectrum of stakeholders involved in the river basin fresh water issues. The TWG concluded the need to map all relevant actors, set proper system of cooperation to be able to discuss a common long-term vision and connect the wide spectrum of stakeholders as this topic belong to the agenda of several ministries.