The bioeconomy refers to the knowledge-based production and use of renewable resources to provide products, processes, and services in all economic sectors within the framework of a sustainable economic system (acatech). To achieve this, the bioeconomy often, but not exclusively, uses biotechnological methods and processes. To ensure the use of biotechnological methods and processes in the sense of a bioeconomy, a wide variety of actors from different value-chains and often also from different industries and economic sectors must work together. However, in most cases, cooperation is not enough to create

a) a legal framework supported by the politics and

b) an acceptance within the society

for innovative processes, products, and services.

To ensure successful networking, BIO.NRW, as the network for biotechnology in North Rhine-Westphalia, supports actors from science, industry, politics, and society in collaborating to establish a sustainable economic system based on the model of the bioeconomy.

You can find more detailed information on the topic of bioeconomy on this website under the tab “Bioeconomy” (coming soon) or you can find another small selection of the topic below here:


Opportunity of the bioeconomy for NRW

North Rhine-Westphalia is confronted with global societal challenges such as climate change, dwindling resources, loss of biodiversity, urbanization, demographic change, and structural change. The bio-economy could play a role in addressing some of these issues, as North Rhine-Westphalia offers good conditions for establishing a bio-economy model region:


  • NRW has agricultural and forestry land that can supply biogenic raw materials.
  • NRW is an agglomeration for population and industry and thus has a large quantitative and qualitative selection of residual, side-streams/by-products and waste-streams that can be used as source materials for new products/services.
  • NRW is embedded in a good infrastructure network, which means that materials and goods can be easily exchanged between the various agglomerations.
  • NRW has existing industrial value chains, especially in the chemical and pharmaceutical industry, the biotechnology, the energy sector, and the agriculture sector, can be further expanded or linked across industry sectors in the sense of a bioeconomy.
  • NRW is a multi-center conurbation which complies with the principle of the bioeconomy, since the bioeconomy also has the potential to generate regional and decentralized value creation and jobs.
  • NRW has the highest density of scientific institutions in Germany. These institutions are the basis for innovation in the bioeconomy and they are also the foundation for education and training for new job profiles in the bioeconomy.
Bioeconomy in the EU - some numbers

EU28 [1]:

  • Bioeconomy worth 4 trillion EUR to the European economy.
  • Turnover of the bioeconomy in the EU increase by 25% between 2008 and 2017.
  • The often-underrated bio-based industries continue their ascent marking a total contribution of 750 billion EUR to the European economy in 2017, a notable increase of 50 billion EUR (+>7%) compared to 2016.
  • The bio-based industries employ 3.6 million people.
  • Figures for the bio-based chemical industry (including plastics) alone reveal a turnover of 60 billion EUR and an increase of the bio-based share to 15%, up from 7.5% in 2008


The post-Brexit EU27 [2]:

  • The post-Brexit bioeconomy generates 5 trillion EUR (≈ 10% of its GDP) when the tertiary bioeconomy sector (bio-based services) is included.


[1] European Bioeconmy in Figures 2008 -2017, nova-Institute for Ecology and Innovation (2020).

[2] Fritsche, U., Brunori, G., Chiaramonti, D., Galanakis, C., Hellweg, S., Matthews, R. and Panoutsou, C., Future transitions for the Bioeconomy towards Sustainable Development and a Climate-Neutral Economy – Knowledge Synthesis Final Report, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, 2020, ISBN 978-92-76-21518-9, doi:10.2760/667966, JRC121212.