|The main objectives of the BLOOM project are to raise awareness on the bioeconomy and to establish open and informed dialogues, co-created by European citizens, civil society, bioeconomy innovation networks, local research centres, business and industry stakeholders and various levels of government. BLOOM is creating spaces for the needed debate on preferences and values concerning the bioeconomy; for interaction and exchange of information, knowledge, meaning and aspirations, with the aim of establishing consensus on how a bioeconomy can be realized. Across Europe, five regional hubs have been established to foster public engagement in the bioeconomy and to create a space of exchange and debate. The hubs are focusing on different areas important to the regions.|
In the last 12 months, our Spanish bioeconomy hub organized different outreach activities in order to raise awareness on the potential of the bioeconomy. The activities brought together multiple stakeholders and partner organisations. The BLOOM communications team interviewed Beatriz Palomo, Head of Projects and Health Area of AseBio – the Spanish Association of Bio-industries – to learn more about her experience and thoughts on the bioeconomy.
What kind of BLOOM activities have you been involved in?
At AseBio we believe that biotechnology is a key factor in the evolution of the bioeconomy since it helps to provide solutions to many of the world’s great challenges, including using resources more efficiently, reducing CO2 emissions, producing healthy and nutritious food, and improving energy security. For this reason, AseBio participates in two European projects – BIOVOICES and Biobridges – with the aim of increasing awareness about the bioeconomy and bringing bioproducts closer to the market.
Our first interaction with BLOOM was inviting Lola del Toro to present the project in BIOSPAIN 2018 in the Industrial Biotechnology & Circular Economy Forum, where we discussed our projects and possible collaboration between them. After this, we started participating in the BLOOM Spanish bioeconomy hub and there was a constant communication and coordination between the three projects. As one of the hub members, we participated in all hub meetings in Cordoba, providing our input and feedback on how to create awareness of bioeconomy in the general society.
In June 2019 in the frame of Expoliva, and in collaboration with BLOOM, we organized a workshop where we brought together principal stakeholders (industry, researchers, administration and consumers) interested in collaborating to innovate, promote and sell different biobased products coming from the olive tree. They could get involved with the objective to promote the collaboration between different value chains, bring biobased products closer to the market and generate awareness of them as more sustainable products with matching quality as their fossil-based equivalents. Together we identified different ways of how to boost knowledge of bioeconomy and how to promote the marketability of biobased products.
How has BLOOM motivated more engagement in the bioeconomy in your local or regional context?
BLOOM organized different meetings and events where we could get in contact and engage with regional and local companies, policy makers and researchers about outreach activities that the project could do in order to promote the dissemination of bioeconomy and the Andalusian Circular Bioeconomy Strategy.
The workshop and the meetings include the participation of different stakeholders (researchers, policy makers and companies) that we have not been in contact with before, mainly from the agri-food, forest and olive sectors.
Have you been involved in the bioeconomy before? How has the engagement in the bioeconomy changed through BLOOM?
Yes, currently we are involved in two European projects to promote bioeconomy. We have also been part of the working group to define the Spanish Strategy of Bioeconomy and we promote the CLAMBER project. Thanks to BLOOM we had the chance to get in contact with more people and identified bioeconomy clusters that we can collaborate with.
Can you share a personal story on what kind of changes have been initiated through your involvement in BLOOM?
Thanks to our involvement in BLOOM we got in contact with very interesting people who have a lot of experience in bioeconomy such as Francisco J. Egea, Professor at the University of Almeria. We invited him to be one of our Advisory Board members of the Biobridges project and he is advising us about different challenges and possible solutions in the bioeconomy. He has developed research and communication activities in these fields and has written more than 60 scientific papers dealing with bioeconomy, food safety and agri-food.
Also, we had the opportunity to get to know the company La Caña (Beatriz Molina), an innovation company in the fruit and vegetable sector that offers new products to the market promoting sustainability, the development of agriculture and adding both economic and social value to the environment. We use this company as a possible case study in the Biobridges project to be followed by other innovation companies.
Through our involvement in BLOOM, we also met some policy makers of the Andalusian government who explained their circular bioeconomy plan and how to replicate the model in other autonomous communities in Spain.
To summarize, through our involvement in the BLOOM project we have been able to expand our contacts in the bioeconomy, get in contact with people who advise us about bioeconomy challenges, get to know innovative companies that we can use as case studies on bioeconomy success stories, stay informed on the Andalusian Circular Bioeconomy Strategy and collaborate in the preparation and hosting of workshops on bioeconomy.
How do you think the implementation of the bioeconomy should evolve?
Society is getting more and more aware of the need for a change in the economic model due to the environmental crisis that is taking place. As a result, people are increasingly demanding environmentally-friendly products, which is why it is so important to learn and develop different kinds of ways of how to take advantage of all the resources that can be obtained from what is currently considered as “waste”, as a resource for a more sustainable production of a variety of products. Companies, brands and researchers are already more conscious of this possibility, but there is still a long way to go: we need policies that help and incentivize the transition to the bioeconomy. A circular bioeconomy proposes a comprehensive approach to address the ecological, energy and food supply challenges that Europe and the world currently face.
Written interview by Beatriz Palomo, AseBio