Representative Subtheme Challenge:

SCR-02: Economics and Value Chain in the Bioeconomy

Imagine a world where your shopping experience is transformed by the bioeconomy's innovations. As you pick up a biodegradable package of plant-based protein, you're not just choosing a sustainable food option, you're participating in a revolutionary economic model. This product, emerging from a collaborative effort among researchers, industry leaders, and policymakers, is a testament to the transformative power of biotechnology. It represents a sustainable value chain, one that prioritizes environmental stewardship while fostering economic growth and job creation. Behind this product is a story of strategic investment in research and development, bringing together diverse expertise to redefine production and consumption. This scenario isn't just about a sustainable choice; it's about realizing a future where the bioeconomy's innovations drive societal progress, economic resilience, and global leadership in sustainable practices. A future where once idealistic concepts of environmental sustainability and equitable access have become tangible, everyday realities, reshaping the way we interact with our planet and its resources.

The evolution of the bioeconomy's economic models and value chains is pivotal. This evolution involves creating sustainable economic models that integrate novel investment strategies and shared services. Key challenges include scaling bioenergy feedstocks and addressing supply-demand balance. Opportunities emerge in developing products that ensure equitable access and considering distributed production versus economies of scale. Urgent adaptation of these economic models is essential to foster a more inclusive and sustainable bioeconomy, particularly as the world faces pressing environmental challenges.

CASA-Bio stakeholders representing government, industry, and non-profit sectors, identified areas of mutual interest where concerted effort among them may lead more quickly to the realization of the envisioned future. These are a few of their ideas. There is a need to focus on advancing sustainable economic models and supply chain optimization. Research could emphasize developing predictive analytics for efficient supply chain management, factoring in regional resource/biomass availability and market demands to help producers, forest landowners, and manufacturers make business decisions. Additionally, the exploration of sustainable economic models tailored to the bioeconomy's needs, including investment in renewable resources and adherence to circular economy principles, is essential. To improve efficiencies, research is needed on the optimization of preprocessing of biomass feedstocks at farms, depots, and manufacturing facilities. Innovating bioprocessing technologies for seamless integration into existing manufacturing networks, alongside comprehensive environmental and economic impact evaluations through life cycle assessments, is critical. These efforts necessitate a multidisciplinary approach, combining economics, engineering, biology, and data science, to ensure scalability, economic viability, and sustainability in the bioeconomy. We emphasize that this list is not comprehensive; we need you to help us think deeper within this subtheme!

As a member of the R&D community, you too are a CASA-Bio stakeholder, and providing your insight on R&D projects that undergird this sub-theme and lead to solutions is critical. Your ideas will matter! Your individual project ideas and those developed as part of the collaborative Town Hall process will be combined to produce an aggregate view. This view will help us understand not only the interests of the R&D community, but also what they are willing to do to advance the bioeconomy. Topics among the R&D project ideas we receive will help government, industry, and non-profit stakeholders see the potential of the US R&D community to address critical future needs and help define topics for future exploration through workshops and roadmapping.

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CASA-Bio is based upon work supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation under Contract No. 49100423P0058. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. National Science Foundation.
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