19 Juni 2017

nova talk: Where do you see the bioeconomy in the future?

Interview with Mr. Gudbrand Rødsrud, Technology Director Business Development at Borregaard

Rødsrud,GudbrandMr. Rødsrud, is this your first time at the Bio-Based Materials Conference Cologne and how did you hear about the Conference?

No, it is not our first time, actually. Michael Carus, the nova CEO, invited us to participate.

What do you expect from your participation?

First of all, new contacts. There are a lot of these conferences nowadays, but the BMC is one of the conferences that focuses on chemicals, which is the most interesting topic for us. This is where Borregaard has its focus, within bio-based chemicals. Secondly, the BMC is the conference where the major players attend.

What do you like at BMC the most?

In my opinion the program is very attractive, it is up to date and offers current topics.

Where do you see the bioeconomy in the future?

I have a vision on how I expect the bioeconomy to develop, which is called the ketchup bottle effect. That means, you can push and push, nothing happens, and suddenly when it happens, all comes at once. We believe, if we all push together, suddenly it will take off. There are more and more signs that politicians, brand owners and industry and even consumers really start to push this. But it will take some time.

That means there is a potential for bio-based products in future?

Yes definitely, I’m convinced of that.

As I can see here, you are on the market already. Would you like to tell us a bit more about your company Borregaard and what you are doing?

Sure, Borregaard is producing biochemicals from wood. Our main operation is to produce Lignin Performance Chemicals for use in concrete additives, animal feed, agrochemicals, batteries and more. We also produce Speciality Cellulose for filters, thickeners, fibres and plastics, Vanillin for food and perfumes (the vanilla taste molecule) and second generation Bioethanol for among others the pharmaceutical industry and biofules.

Coming up with new products is also important to us, like the Exilva Microfibrillated Cellulose – a BBI funded flagship plant, which started up in the 4th quarter of 2016. This is just one of several innovation projects we are working on.

That means you are already well established on the market today?

Oh yeah, definitely. We are introducing new products step by step. This is a good position, because we don’t have to make a major investment to start up. We are already there, we are just modifying and adding on to our production and introducing new products.

What is your advice for start-up companies who try to enter the bio-based market?

Well, what we see is that bio-refineries actually are operating in almost the same way as oil refineries. So, you have to combine volume products with high-value products. You need to top up your revenue with specialties.  On the other hand, you need volume to run the whole plant.
Another lesson learnt over the years is that a market is never stable, it is always changing. That means you need to choose flexible technologies. If you stick with one product or one technology only and the markets are changing, you can easily get into trouble.

So, you vote for a diverse product palette which is at the end flexible enough to jump onto another train?

Exactly, that is what I mean.

What kind of support from authorities would help the bio-based economy?

We believe that subsidies are not a good kind of help, because subsidies come and go, and change with the respective government.

Thank you Mr. Rødsrud, for the interview. We wish you a successful conference.

This Interview was conducted by Gudio Müller, nova-Institute, at the 10th International Conference on Bio-based Materials, 10 May 2017 in Cologne.

Source: nova-Institut GmbH, 2017-06-19.

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