On April 5th a site visit to DSM Delft was organized by the Young BBE organization. This was the first event of a series of networking activities, such as company/site visits and workshops to stimulate the collaboration of young professionals whose work has a link with bio-based economy. Based on the number of registrations it was already a big success; as the number of visitors was limited we had to disappoint a number of registered Young Professionals.
From the registrations, 30 persons were selected from a wide range of organizations: universities, research & technology organizations, governmental bodies and companies. During the afternoon they were offered introduction talks of the Site Director of DSM Delft and a business analyst of DSM Bio-based Products & Services and it became clear to the audience that the Delft site is like a HUB of biotechnology in The Netherlands. Afterwards, lab tours were organized to the Pharmaceutical factory of DSM Sinochem Pharmaceuticals, the Table-Top Biorefinery lab and the Bioprocess Pilot Facility.
After the tours, everyone was energized to have discussions about the bio-based economy based on statements from the group. During the discussions the bio-based economy was both enthusiastically and critically debated: the promises of enhanced economic growth and sustainability are no guaranteed results. Furthermore, the bio-based economy will not develop automatically, but requires action from companies, NGO’s, government and research institutes. However, not everyone agreed on the type of action that stakeholders should initiate.
The first statements discussed were about the economic aspects of the bio-based economy. There was common agreement that ultimately bio-based products should be able to compete without subsidies or tax advantages with current fossil prices to be really successful. One of its promises is more global economic growth. But to which extend will the Dutch economy profit from the bio-based economy? The group agreed that probably more national economic growth will be caused by the export of technology, increased logistics for, for example, The Port of Rotterdam, and further valorization of the various (agricultural) waste streams. However, there was doubt to which extent the ‘bio-refineries’ will be built in The Netherlands as the high transportation cost of biomass will probably imply that the bio-refineries will be built close to the biomass, which is limited available in The Netherlands.
The next group of statements was about partnerships, a key aspect for overcoming hurdles encountered when implementing bio-based value chains. From the discussion it followed that there were both opportunities and threats associated with bio-based partnerships. The opportunities for partnerships are reduction of (financial) risk and access to market, feedstock or technology. The threat of partnerships is that they make you dependent on the partner and cause issues when for examples the partner runs into financial problems (which occurs regularly in this state of the economy).
The final discussion was about the sustainability. Here a lively discussion was held to which extend sustainability should be enforced on emerging bio-based value chains. Targeting environmental and social criteria is important as any developments harmful for the environment or society would turn the public opinion. On the other hand, too stringent criteria could limit growth, which would lead to reduced sustainability benefits on the long term. Everyone agreed however, that relevant criteria should be defined and the environmental and social impact should be monitored to steer the bio-based economy if required.
The visit at DSM was the first event organized by the Young BBE organization. Based on the enthusiastic discussions and the drinks afterwards where many young professionals continued their discussions for several hours, we concluded it was very successful. The next event will be organized at the Port of Rotterdam somewhere in June. Please sign up for the LinkedIn group “Young Professionals in BBE”, so we can keep you updated.
Read the results here.
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