More than ever, it is necessary and urgent to transform our production and consumption models in order to meet the many challenges we must collectively face: Combating global warming and its consequences; meeting the new food, energy and health needs of a constantly growing population; mitigating the scarcity of oil resources and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels; to preserve the earth’s ecosystems by ensuring and guaranteeing the continuity of a sustainable production system that benefits the greatest number of people; to ensure the training of future generations, to create jobs and wealth by exploiting resources sustainably for the benefit of all. The bioeconomy is part of the collective response we can provide to preserve our lifestyles in a sustainable way, by meeting all these needs.
What is the bioeconomy?
The bioeconomy encompasses all the activities involved in the production, processing and of agricultural, forestry and aquaculture raw materials, as well as all their secondary flows (co-products and residues). It extracts and exploits from all this living matter, the fibres and molecules that are of interest for food, industrial and energy applications. The bioeconomy offers concrete, clean and sustainable applications in many areas of our daily lives. For example, it transforms beetroot into biofuel, potatoes, maize and wheat into starches and derivatives for bioplastics and bioinputs, wheat and peas into vegetable proteins for human consumption, algae into food additives, fertilisers or cosmetic ingredients, insects into food proteins, flax into a composite material as strong as glass, hemp into ecological insulating concrete, and uses molecules derived from wood to replace those derived from petrochemistry or synthetic chemistry… By using plants as raw materials, the bioeconomy also contributes to the fight against global warming thanks to photosynthesis, which captures CO2 from the atmosphere. This mechanism makes the bioeconomy a circular solution by nature and promising solution to the urgent need for a low-carbon economy.
A local base, wealth for our regions.
The bioeconomy creates local jobs that cannot be outsourced. Biorefineries, in which plant, forest and aquaculture materials are transformed, are located as close as possible to our producers, in France and in Europe. They bring together researchers, farmers and industrialists. They employ thousands of people directly, generate 3 to 4 times as many indirect jobs and transform millions of tons of biomass per year for environmentally responsible food and industrial production. In an agricultural country such as ours, it is possible to set up many high-performing, productive and ecological biorefineries locally, and to significantly increase the share of the bioeconomy in our production ecosystem in the service of green growth and job creation. Several French regions, including Pays de la Loire, have been involved in the development of the bioeconomy for many years. They encourage, support and facilitate the installation of innovation hubs, start-ups, academic centres of excellence and industrial platforms in their regions. The results are convincing: Start-ups, SMEs and large groups, located in the heart of our regions, generate more than 300 billion euros of annual turnover and account for 1.9 million jobs at the national level. France also has public schools, universities and research institutes and ranks 2nd in Europe in terms of patent publication in industrial biotechnology.
Supporting, accompanying and accelerating its development
It is possible to do even more. In order for our Regions and France to strengthen their leadership in the bioeconomy, which provides jobs, sustainable growth and wealth, it is necessary to support and accelerate its development:
- By using the lever of government procurement
- By setting up a tool dedicated to the financing of innovation projects in the bioeconomy, which will accelerate the development of responses to the sector’s challenges
- By facilitating investment in industrial tools and reducing the risks associated with the deployment phase, particularly for start-ups and SMEs due to the high capital intensity of the sector. The aim is also to accelerate and encourage investment in production tools in France, with existing support being directed exclusively towards the first commercial units
- Setting up an “innovation cheque” to provide start-ups and innovative SMEs with support for rapid and low-cost access to the skills needed to accelerate their project
- By creating tax incentives dedicated to investment in the bioeconomy in areas in need of revitalisation by extending the free zone system, such as the regional aid zone system (AFR), to create a “bioeconomy free zone”
- Conducting public information and awareness-raising campaigns on the benefits of products from the bioeconomy (sustainability, sovereignty, etc.).
- By developing teaching and educational opportunities that will enable France and our regions to have the necessary skills for the deployment, strengthening and maintenance of the bioeconomy
- By promoting research excellence (public and private) in our regions.
Together, let’s make France THE world’s most attractive and excellent region of the bioeconomy.