• What is BioSTEP about?
The bioeconomy is widely regarded as a concept that can help to reconcile economic growth with environmentally responsible action. However, it is acknowledged that bio-based products and processes are associated with social, economic and environmental impacts, which may affect different societal groups in different ways. BioSTEP helps in the understanding of those impacts. By applying and testing novel and innovative participatory instruments, it aims at engaging key stakeholders and the general public in informed debates about the future development of the European bioeconomy.
• Why is BioSTEP important and for whom?
BioSTEP will contribute to fill an apparent knowledge gap by providing information on the social, economic and environmental impacts of bio-based products and processes in a structured way. This new knowledge base will allow stakeholders and the general public to take part in informed discussions about the bioeconomy and its potentials and challenges. Possible participants are policy-makers, key stakeholders and citizens at European, national and regional levels – thus at all levels where bioeconomy strategies are in the process of being developed.
• What will BioSTEP achieve within three years?
Overall, BioSTEP is looking to achieve the following outcomes:
- An increased awareness of the bioeconomy and its products and processes among the general public;
- A better understanding of the bioeconomy and its potentials and risks;
- An Intensified public dialogue on the future development of the European bioeconomy;
• How can an international and interdisciplinary project consortium contribute to achieving these objectives?
The BioSTEP consortium consists of organisations from five different European countries. Given that bioeconomy concepts and strategies differ greatly across the EU, this will allow us to analyse different approaches on participatory governance of the bioeconomy and to come up with best practices that can guide developments elsewhere. The international setup of the consortium thus facilitates knowledge sharing across different locations, settings and contexts. In addition, the interdisciplinary expertise of the project team allows us to conduct in-depth analysis of the social, economic and environmental dimension of the bioeconomy and its products and processes. This technical expertise is complemented by long-standing expertise in the development and application of innovative communication and stakeholder engagement tools.
• What are the innovative approaches that BioSTEP applies?
BioSTEP focuses on stakeholder engagement, i.e. the active involvement of key stakeholders and the general public in discussions on the future development of the European bioeconomy. In this context, we apply targeted instruments that have been designed to reach the various target groups that BioSTEP has identified. Workshops and conferences will link key stakeholders and policy-makers, while citizens will be invited to attend a series of exhibitions on bio-based products and processes. At the regional level, we will organise so-called ‘living labs’ as tools to involve regional policy-makers, business representatives and citizens in the design of context-specific bioeconomy strategies.
• What is the idea behind the exhibition “Bioeconomy in daily life”?
Biobased products have grown to be part and parcel of our everyday lives: in our kitchen, in our garage and in our bathroom. Howev er, most people aren’t even aware that these products exist. Sometimes you have to look twice to see the hidden qualities of some products. People can do so now and take a closer look at our hands-on bioeconomy exhibition “Bioeconomy in daily life”, where we will show a selection of several biobased products that have already found their way into our everyday lives. The exhibition will visit three different European cities in 2017 and 2018.
• What are “Living Labs“?
The living labs approach is an innovative concept, where citizens and end users take an active part in so-called user-driven or open-innovation processes. These can range from new products/process or services to concerted regional strategies or policies/legislative proposals. Living labs allow for an interactive communication amongst actors in order to find concerted solutions to common needs. In this way, living labs connect the research and innovation worlds, centres for local development, exponents of the manufacturing sector like Chambers of Commerce, clusters, trade associations, business incubators and experts, as well as municipalities and other (local).