From the left:
Christian Feiler (Ministry of Economic Affairs, Industry, Climate Action and Energy of NRW),
Pierre Raeven (Department of Economic Affairs of the Province of Limburg),
Jan Willem van de Groep (Dutch Programme ‘Building Balance’),
Niklas Hielscher (Raiffeisen Waren-Zentrale Rhein-Main eG (RWZ)
On 8 November 2022, the final conference of the successful INTERREG Deutschland-Nederland network Circular-Bio took place at the Villa Flora at the Brightlands Campus in Venlo. The project was able to promote cross-border activities in the circular bioeconomy and to identify hurdles and challenges that still prevent the development and establishment of cross-border value networks and business models. The extensive Circular-Bio Network, which was established during the project, includes many actors from NRW and the Province of Limburg. Political speakers from both regions were present: In their introductory speeches, Christian Feiler (Ministry of Economic Affairs, Industry, Climate Action and Energy of NRW) and Pierre Raeven (Department of Economic Affairs of the Province of Limburg) emphasised the importance of cross-border cooperation to jointly tread the path of the circular economy and the bioeconomy.
In two insightful keynote speeches, Jan Willem van de Groep (Dutch Programme ‘Building Balance’) and Niklas Hielscher (Raiffeisen Waren-Zentrale Rhein-Main eG (RWZ)) highlighted alternative uses of residual and side streams in different industrial sectors. Jan Willem van de Groep placed a special focus on raw materials for a healthy and sustainable building sector based on biogenic resources. Niklas Hielscher underlined how the climate and energy crises trigger turning points in the energy and chemical industries as well as in agriculture. He further showed how bioeconomy and circularity open up new business models for RWZ and how this affects the value networks from raw materials up to products within the companies supported by RWZ.
Furthermore, the creative and innovative atmosphere of Villa Flora was used to present the Circular-Bio project and its results within the last three years. Sarah Refai gave an overview on the activities and outcomes during the last three years. A major focus was on the voucher projects funded by the project, which addressed a wide range of circular bioeconomy topics, such as the supply and utilisation of biomass or the development of production processes to make products and processes more sustainable. 10 voucher projects that have been supported within Circular-Bio presented their ideas and results to the interested audience in short pitches. The participants selected the most innovative cross-border project on the topic of circular bioeconomy. The winner was the project “Pectin concentration after extraction of coffee berries” by the two CLIB members Pectcof and Fraunhofer UMSICHT. In the project, coffee berries were used as a biomass stream to extract pectins. The technological improvement of the extraction system by using oscillating membrane systems was successful and the project was awarded by the participants of the conference with the Circular-Bio Innovation Award.
The winner of the Circular-Bio Innovation Award was the project “Pectin concentration after extraction of coffee berries” by the two CLIB members Pectcof and Fraunhofer UMSICHT.
The conference was closed by Dennis Herzberg and Marcel Claus, who also gave an outlook on the follow-up project Realise-Bio, which is currently under evaluation by INTERREG. It is planned to start next year and aims to further strengthen the networks established during the Circular-Bio project and to advance the circular bioeconomy in the cross-border region.