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In the Circular Biobased Delta – the region of West Brabant, Zeeland and South Holland – considerable efforts have been made in recent years to develop new circular and biobased technologies. Wonderful innovations for a sustainable future are on the shelf, but technology alone does not immediately create new jobs or added value in the market. That requires taking the step toward business. That is the only way we can grow into a circular and biobased economy.

With a new lectorate, we are taking a step in that direction! A lectorate engages in practical research at the higher vocational level and consists of a team of researchers headed by a lector. What does the market need? And more importantly, what do consumers need? In a feasibility study, five partners, including Centre of Expertise Biobased Economy (CoE BBE) and Rabobanken Zuidwest Nederland, are investigating what a lectorate aimed at the development of circular and biobased business should look like.

Bridge between businesses and students
The new lectorate mainly focuses on bringing existing biobased technologies to the market. Douwe-Frits Broens from CoE BBE: “This requires a multidisciplinary approach. Students and researchers from different disciplines such as marketing, legal, chemistry and commercial participate in practical research projects with companies. This creates mutual involvement, which offers opportunities for both these young talents and the companies. Regional companies have direct access to the students through the lectorate and there is a need for this”.

Circular and biobased business opportunities
More and more knowledge about circular and biobased materials is available. Companies need to take the next step towards practice. Where are the opportunities? How is it that certain technological developments do not lead to business? Typical questions that fit within this lectorate. And when we talk about market development, what does the consumer really want?

Wibo van Hekken on behalf of the eight Rabobanks in the southwest of the Netherlands: “The demand for biobased materials start with consumers. The trick is to link this demand to the strength of our region. After all, this region as a whole has both sustainability and economic opportunities. We have teachers, chemists and farmers in the region; the potential is enormous. By working together more and better in biobased chains, we can achieve great things”. As an example, Van Hekken mentions household plastics. “How great it would be if we replaced all household plastics in the region with bioplastics. That would be a massive statement from all of us. This does involve some challenges and obstacles. Consumers throw their bioplastic toothbrush out with their organic waste with the best of intentions, but waste processors are not so happy with that. That could be a nice challenge for the lectorate.”

Look ahead
The goal is to start the new lectorate at the beginning of 2021. At the moment, companies are being approached to help come up with ideas about this lectorate and to possibly later participate in the knowledge circle and practical projects. “We want to set up this lectorate together with companies. We also talk to designers and marketers in order to get a better picture of today’s consumers”, says Broens.

In short, we are working hard on a circular and biobased economy. Would you like to help think about or participate in the lectorate? We will be happy to talk to you!

Partners:

Centre of Expertise Biobased Economy (HZ University of Applied Sciences)
Rabobanken Zuidwest Nederland
Havenbedrijf Moerdijk
Green Chemistry Campus
Circular Biobased Delta