Bioeconomy is a term for economic activity that uses biological resources from land and sea – such as crops, forests, fish, animals and micro-organisms – and the process of transforming them into food, energy, and other products and services. While the traditional bioeconomy is thousands of years old, nowadays the term usually describes processes that add value to biomass using biotechnology. While many rural areas of the Baltic Sea Region are abundant in natural resources, the region has lacked the innovation needed to add economic value to raw biomass, and the cooperation between different actors needed to capitalize on the sector’s potential.

A new project, ConnectedByBiobord, led by JAMK University of Applied Sciences in Finland, aims to address these issues. The project will implement transnational innovation pilots in bioeconomy, and it will leverage opportunities through the digital platform Biobord , which connects bioeconomy developers in the Baltic Sea Region to network, share knowledge, and solve joint problems.

The platform offers different bioeconomy services such as agricultural advisory and courses for business entrepreneurs, with special focus on food innovation. The platform targets six partner countries: Poland, Finland, Norway, Estonia, Latvia and Sweden. By using the platform, organizations have opportunities to be part of international matchmaking in a global bioeconomy network. By finding others with shared interests, people in the industry can team up and get support to build a business, or launch innovation to global markets.

SEI Tallinn Programme Director Kaja Peterson, who leads the project, said the work will provide key support needed in the sector. To unlock new market opportunities and to keep up with the global bioeconomy competition will require strategic building of transnational networks, and  adding capacity for innovation management and co-operation.

“In the rural regions, the need for networks and co-operation is even more prominent due to limited human capital and innovation infrastructure”, he said. “Therefore, the rural regions of ConnectedByBiobord partners face similar challenges. The lack of capacity for innovation hindersg their aspirations to develop a sustainable bioeconomy. Encouraging companies to strive to solve these challenges via strategic interregional alliances is a key objective of the ConnectedByBiobord project.”

JAMK University of Applied Sciences is partnering in the project with SEI Tallinn and seven other research and development organizations and business development bodies in Finland, Poland, Estonia, Norway, Sweden and Latvia. The project focuses on seven target regions in these countries: Inland (Norway), Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship (Poland), Vidzeme (Latvia), Värmland (Sweden), Skåne (Sweden), and Pärnu County (Estonia). ConnectedByBiobord is funded by the Interreg BSR Programme 2014–2020.