Building the bioeconomy: A targeted assessment approach to identifying biobased technologies, challenges and opportunities

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We explore opportunities, challenges, and strategies to translate and responsibly-scale innovative biobased technologies to build more sustainable bioeconomies. The pandemic and other recent disruptions increased exposure to issues of resilience and regional imbalance, highlighting a need for production and consumption regimes centred more on local biobased resources and dispersed
production. We review potential biobased technologies strategies and identify promising and feasible options for the United Kingdom. Initial landscape and bibliometric analysis identified 50 potential existing and emerging biobased technologies, which were assessed for their ability to fulfil requirements related to biobased production, national applicability, and economic-, societal-, and
environmental-benefits, leading to identification of 18 promising biobased production technologies. Further analysis and focus-group discussion with industrial, governmental, academic, agricultural, and social stakeholders, identified three technology clusters for targeted assessment, drawing on cellulose-, lignin-, and seaweed-feedstocks. Case studies were developed for each cluster, addressing conversations around sustainable management, use of biomass feedstocks, and associated environmental-, social-, and economic-challenges. Cases are presented with discussion of insights and implications for policy. The approach presented in the paper is put forward as a scalable assessment method that can be useful in prompting, informing, and advancing discussion and deliberation on opportunities and challenges for biobased transformations.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEngineering Biology
Early online date7 Feb 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Feb 2024


  • Biobased technologies
  • bioeconomy
  • post-pandemic
  • technology selection

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Manchester Institute of Innovation Research


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