Unveiling Opportunities for Local Circular Bioeconomy Systems Using an Open Innovation Approach

R. Salvador*, S. Bach, L. Eriksen, M. Hedegaard, N. C. Kjærsgaard, T. Knudby, V. Lund, S. B. Larsen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference abstract in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


Background, motivation, and scope. There is increasing incentive from governments for companies to transition to a circular bioeconomy (CBE), especially in Europe. A Bioeconomy is rooted in renewable resources. In a CBE, biomass is used to make products of added value, seeking to keep the value at its maximum at all times. Nonetheless, such a transition does not happen overnight, and until we are able to satisfy societal needs with sustainably sourced biomass, we can make the case for a circular bioeconomy proving its value by recovering value from waste streams. This research takes an exploratory stance, proposing a project approach to answer the following question: how can we build local circular bioeconomy systems by upcycling biomass waste? This study is scoped down to explore municipal biowaste, such as beach wrack (i.e., seaweed and eelgrass), straw, and grass clippings, in the capital region of Denmark and Southern Sweden, as part of the project Power Bio (https://www.gate21.dk/powerbio/). Methods. This exploratory study dwells on the possible methods to be used to build local circular bioeconomy systems to make use of biomass waste. The methods to be used are rooted in investigative research (Step 1), innovation sprints (Step 2), and stakeholder dialogue (Step 3), as described hereafter. Step 1: Investigate the biomasses. The biomass wastes should be collected and analysed to get to know their content, such as chemical and physical composition. This allows one to start identifying for what purposes parts of the biomass, or the whole of it, can be used. Step 2. Run innovation sprints (e.g., Hackathons). They can be run with two purposes, (i) finding potential products, for instance by posing an open question such as “what can be made from grass clippings?”, or (ii) finding answers to specific challenges, such as “how do we collect and sort beach wrack in order to avoid undesired materials coming along (e.g., plastic waste left on the beach)?”. The results of Step 1 should be made available to the participants in the innovation sprints. These can be run in two phases, where in the first phase challenges are made available, participants (companies, university students, citizens) register and submit a summary of a potential solution, the best ranked solutions are invited for a second phase, where they have closer dialogue with the problem owners, have the chance to further develop their solution, produce a prototype, and pitch their idea at a final event, at the end of the innovation sprint. The best solutions win the right to test their solution at a technological institute (technical advice, knowledge, facilities, time, personnel, are provided for the tests). Step 3. Establish a dialogue between the private initiative and the local government and other stakeholders, aiming to identify gaps that need to be bridged to build local circular bioeconomy system. After the testing phase, the best solutions can be pointed out. To put them into practice, a dialogue between the companies that can implement those solutions and the local government should be initiated, in order to reach agreements on how the market, the supply chain, and the regulations and incentives for such solutions to come to life can take place. Expected Results. A series of results can be expected at the end of this process, including: (1) a list of potential products that can be made from the biomass wastes. Even if not feasible, they can serve as inspiration for other potential products that might result from the use of the biomasses; (2) a list of the industries that can benefit from the final products. One can identify what industries are more likely to benefit from the products that can be made from the biomass wastes. This can be an input to policy initiatives; (3) insights into the most valuable components. One can hope to identify whether only a few components of the biomass are being valued, or all of it, and why. One can also draw on strategies to valorize the less valuable ones; (4) identify what supply chain links are needed to establish local circular bioeconomy systems. One can hope to identify what is needed to build supply chains in order for the products to be brought to the market. This translates into what incentives need to be created, and refers back to Step 3, stakeholder dialogue. Further Research. At the end of this process, one will still be left with the challenges of investigating (a) potential sustainability impacts of the new products (from waste), including financial, social, and environmental sustainability, and (b) potential impacts of substitution (what old products they replace, and which option is sustainably better).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvances in Cleaner Production, Proceedings of the 12h International Workshop
EditorsB.F. Giannetti, C.M.V.B Almeida, F. Agostinho
Publication date2023
Publication statusPublished - 2023
Event12th International Workshop on Advances in Cleaner Production - Stellenbosch, Stellenbosch, South Africa
Duration: 23 Nov 202324 Nov 2023


Workshop12th International Workshop on Advances in Cleaner Production
Country/TerritorySouth Africa
Internet address


  • Bioeconomy
  • Biomass
  • Circular economy
  • Market innovation
  • Sustainability


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