The government’s €116 billion development plan for the next decade, Project Ireland 2040,
highlights the potential of the bioeconomy in terms of Ireland's future economic and environmental wellbeing.
The bioeconomy relates to the production of renewable biological resources and turning these resources and waste streams into value-added products, such as food and bio-energy.
For example, the production of whey used to be an unwanted by-product of the dairy industry. Now, some of Ireland's innovative bioeconomy companies are using that whey to manufacture whey protein - a dietary supplement that is used by athletes. There are many more examples across a range of sectors, including agriculture, marine, forestry and energy as well as biopharmaceuticals.
The potential benefits for Ireland from the bioeconomy – to contribute to climate change mitigation, promote rural employment and drive economic development – are well recognised.
Ireland also has a number of well-established and early-stage companies that are promising pioneers in the bioeconomy. However, there is scope to promote further development to realise the full potential of the bioeconomy for Ireland.
The National Policy Statement outlines the key actions needed to expand the bioeconomy, including:
promoting greater coherence between the many sectors of the bioeconomy
strengthening the development of promising bio-based products
accessing funding available at EU level as well as leveraging private investment
These actions can only be progressed by cooperation between the public service, industry and the research institutes.
The focus over the next few years when it comes to the bioeconomy in Ireland include:
ensuring that there is coherence between all sectoral strategies which impact on the bioeconomy in Ireland
establishing a network comprised of people who work in the bioeconomy industry and those in public bodies and institutions
encouraging the translation of research into real world applications through promoting collaboration between research institutions (academia) and industry
assessing the current legislative definition of waste and recommend whether a re-designation is necessary
progressing the leading value chain propositions identified in the Bio-Eire project
by establishing the conditions required for their commercial viability and how these might be fulfilled
examining how greater primary producer, public and consumer awareness of the bioeconomy and its products could be built up