27 Juni 2018

Renewable chemicals building the biobased economy

Recent BIO report on the status of the biobased economy shows that progress has reached a tipping point for accelerated growth in the 21st century

Companies around the globe are building the biobased economy as they commercialize renewable chemicals and biobased products. Collectively, their progress has reached a tipping point for accelerated growth in the 21st century. Governments and policy makers can unleash this growth by supporting all companies and sectors that contribute to building the value chain. Says BIO, the US biotechnology innovation  organization, in a recent report on the status of the biobased economy.

book_cover‘The biobased economy is a value chain of sustainable manufacturing that uses biological processes to convert renewable, low-cost or waste feedstocks into everyday products. It creates new markets for agricultural crops, crop residues and waste streams as well as opportunities for innovation in producing consumer goods. Renewable chemicals and biobased manufacturing provide a cost-competitive alternative to petroleum’s value chain that generates added value through environmental, economic and other benefits.’ Says BIO in its introduction to a catalogue of biobased industries. You can download the complete 2018 Renewable Chemicals Platforms Building the Biobased Economy catalogue here.

‘Industrial biotechnology is at the heart of this manufacturing revolution, serving as a catalyst for growth, new economic opportunities and employment in:
– agriculture and forestry, especially through development of new crops and new uses for crop residues;
– industrial manufacturing, through use of offgases and waste streams;
– feed ingredients for animal nutrition;
– nutritional ingredients, flavours and fragrances for grocery manufacturing;
– enzymes, for household cleaners, laundry detergents, and food and fabric processing;
– renewable chemical production for cosmetics, personal care and other consumer product sectors;
– biobased polymer production for packaging and textiles; and
– biofuels.’

essential-oils

Cosmetics are among the products of the biobased economy. Photo: Pixaby.

Measuring the biobased economy

BIO has looked into several studies and market analyses aimed to calculate the economic value of the biobased economy. It is difficult to capture economic impacts across the entire value chain, because the biobased economy is characterized by rapid innovation. Industrial biotechnology continually creates potential for use of new feedstocks, new tools such as genomics, gene editing and microbial engineering, as well as new products and materials.

A study by Bioeconomy Capital indicates that the US industrial biotechnology sector generated more than $ 140 billion in business-to-business revenue in 2016. The consumer level economic impact is likely to be 10 to 30 percent larger than the direct business-to-business revenues. The group notes significant growth in the renewable chemicals, pharmaceutical and nutrition ingredients sectors. In particular the biotech industry has a high economic impact. TEConomy calculates that every direct bioscience industry job creates 5.5 additional jobs elsewhere in the economy. For workers in the agricultural feedstock and chemicals sector of the biotech industry, which includes biofuel producers, the multiplier is as high as 18.4 additional jobs for every direct job. And according to Lux Research, investors pumped nearly $ 9.2 billion into the industrial biotechnology sector, primarily in renewable chemicals and biobased polymers between 2010 and 2015. The funding came from a variety of sources, including private equity and some public investment. But the majority of the investment and financing – $ 5.3 billion (57 percent) – came from venture capital. Venture capital investments primarily target research and development of new technologies, and synthetic biology start-ups have garnered the largest share in recent years.

Building the value chain of renewable chemicals

Expectations for industrial biotechnology’s future potential are high because of the diversity and exponential growth in discovery of biological or other processes that convert sustainable, renewable resources to high-value products. The intensifying pace of research and development in biotechnology, new developments in synthetic biology and gene editing, and recent experiences in engineering commercial-scale industrial biotech processes augment projections for accelerated economic growth in the field.

Continued growth of the biobased economy will benefit countries, states and clusters that implement effective policy to support continued investment and commercialization, says BIO. Governments and regions that support the emergence of the biobased economy are poised to reap the job creation and economic growth benefits. And the public will reap environmental and other benefits.

Source: Bio Based Press, 2018-06-21.
Author: Diederik van der Hoeven

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