The government is commissioning research into the value and opportunities of the UK bioeconomy.
The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) published a £50-70,000 tender on 15 December for a project that will provide an evidence base to grow the bioeconomy and to outline the role government should play in its development.
BIS and BBSRC say the UK bioeconomy presents a “unique opportunity” to promote economic growth, increase productivity, build UK-based supply chains and boost exports.
“It also encourages the transition towards a low-carbon economy through increased take up of bioenergy and biofuels and increased use of biowaste and alternative feedstocks e.g. to produce speciality chemicals, plastics and other high-value products, as part of the circular economy,” they say.
Interest in the UK bioeconomy has certainly grown over the past year.
In February, the BBIA was launched in an attempt to support the development of a bio-based materials market. And in March, government waste champions published a review of the English bioeconomy landscape and promised to follow it up with a plan to further exploit the sector’s potential.
According to the tender document, the direct bioeconomy contribute more than £36 billion in gross value added to the total UK economy. A 2014 House of Lords inquiry found that biowaste-based activities could generate up to £100bn annually.
However, BIS notes that the figures are not comprehensive, a problem the project aims to address.
The evidence review will be used to raise ministerial interest in the bioeconomy, by highlighting the size and nature of opportunities and the role government is currently fulfilling in realising this.
It will also be used as a source of evidence to assess where public intervention could help industry realise high-value growth potential which would not be achieved otherwise.
The tender closes on 8 January and the work is expected to be completed by 5 May.