Top image: Major global challenges such as population growth and dramatic climate change make a green transition a must,” stated Arvid Hallén. Here with Anita Traaseth, CEO of Innovation Norway (RCN)
“Major global challenges such as population growth and dramatic climate change make a green transition a must,” stated Arvid Hallén, Director General of the Research Council of Norway, as he opened the joint conference on the bioeconomy together with Anita Traaseth, CEO of Innovation Norway.
Presentations from the Bioeconomy conference are available on the BioØkonomi YouTube channel.
Norway has everything in place for a successful transition to a more sustainable society. The country has a sound economy and a well-educated labour force and possesses bio-based raw materials and abundant energy resources. Nonetheless, a survey has shown that the turnover in Norway’s bioeconomy is only six per cent – the lowest of any Nordic country. The combined turnover of the bioeconomies of the Nordic countries is EUR 184 billion, or 10 per cent of the Nordic economy overall. Iceland leads all Nordic countries at 18 per cent.
Norway is in last place due to the low use of biobased chemicals and advanced biomaterials in industry. The country is also trailing behind with regard to efficient use of renewable raw materials, cross-sectoral cooperation and development of biobased services.
“Thus, the fact that we have a very large oil and gas sector goes a long way in explaining why Norway scores so poorly,” Mr Hallén says.
Within the traditional industries of fishing and forestry, however, Norway scores high above the EU average.
“If we are to do better, we need to generate new knowledge and be willing to invest,” the director general added. “Together with Innovation Norway, the Research Council wants to help encourage Norway to develop the solutions needed for the future. We are in a unique position where we can build up our future wealth based both on our petroleum resources and on the bioeconomy – provided that we lay a solid foundation today for research and innovation linked to commercial utilisation of various biological resources.”
Industry lacks knowledge
A study carried out by TNS Gallup AS for the Research Council shows that as much as 56 per cent of the forty Norwegian processing industry actors who responded believe that the use of fossil-based raw materials will continue to be dominant in 2030. Only nine per cent foresee bio-based raw materials as taking over.
“We choose to see the opportunities in this. If we can spread the word about the potential advantages in the bioeconomy, it will help to change attitudes and speed up the pace of the green transition in the processing industry.”
Programmes to stimulate green growth
The Research Council and Innovation Norway offer a number of programmes to fund all aspects relating to the bioeconomy – from sustainable production and processing of biological resources for food and animal feed and for health purposes, fibre products, industrial products and energy.
Biotechnology is a key component of the bioeconomy. The marine environment is also of particular importance to Norway, both for fisheries and aquaculture and as a source for cultivating and harvesting other interesting biological raw materials. The Research Council has two wide-ranging, ten-year research programmes within these areas: the Research Programme on Biotechnology for Innovation (BIOTEK2021) and the Large-scale Programme on Aquaculture – An Industry in Growth (HAVBRUK).
Another key programme for the development of the Norwegian bioeconomy is the Research Council’s Research Programme on Sustainable Innovation in Food and Bio-based Industries (BIONAER), which is aimed at promoting research and innovation that enhances value creation in Norway’s bio-based industries.