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, the network for biotechnology in North Rhine-Westphalia established its thematic focus area, to support 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 or you can find another small selection of the topic below here:


Bioeconomy & Biotechnology

The above definition of the knowledge-based bioeconomy thus covers nearly all industrial and economic sectors, such as agriculture and forestry, food production, fisheries, aquaculture, but also the chemical-, pharmaceutical-, cosmetics-, textile- or construction industries, and energy production.

Biotechnology, on the other hand, is a cross-sectional technology that generates innovations in all these industrial and economic sectors. Be it in the development and production of more sustainable textiles, detergents and surfactants through the development and production of innovative biotechnological enzymes and biotechnological processes, or through the more environmentally friendly production of biobased plastics (biopolymers) and energy sources (bioethanol) through the conversion of biogenic resources, or through the biotechnological development of new vaccines (mRNA vaccines) or new diagnostic- and therapeutic approaches.

Biotechnology is therefore a key technology within the bioeconomy, which contributes to its establishment and therefore to a more sustainable (circular) economy and to the realization of climate protection and the UN sustainability goals.


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.