From a broad economic perspective, the bio-economy refers to the set of economic activities relating to the invention, development, production and use of biological products and processes. It concerns economic activity derived from research focused on biotechnology understanding mechanisms and processes at the genetic and molecular levels and its application to industrial process. This line of thinking advocates the transition from an economy predominantly performing with fossil-fuel and mining raw materials to an economy running on biomass as the raw material. In a bio-based economy, it is about the utilization of ‘applications’ already invented in nature and now put to use in man-made processes and constructions. There is a strong emphasis on the technological aspect while, at the same time, the fear of endangering the ability to cultivate food. These applications, for example, include chemicals, materials, transport fuels, electricity, construction industry, and warmth. While research, especially on a European level, is exceptionally supported, the debate on what constitutes appropriate approaches in regard to transition is only minimally addressed.

The bio-based economy aims to contribute to a more sustainable future by tackling challenges posed by population growth trends, pollution, scarcity of food and resources and not to forget; climate change. Critics claim that solutions towards these issues are being overshadowed by new challenges and concerns. The answer for this multi-complex debate lies in not defining the bio-economy too narrow. Not in its definition, not in its application, and definitely not in its potential future. In short, the bio-economy is part of a bigger whole. ‘Biocomplexity’ might therefore be the right term to explain the bio-economy.

Bio-based economy – Creating a sustainable future by providing a substitute for scarce goods, like fossil-fuels, through the invention, development, production, and use of biological products and processes.