What role does the bioeconomy play in the transformation of regions towards sustainable development?


Many regions are still characterized by a dominance of unsustainable production and technology patterns, even though more sustainable alternatives are available today. The knowledge-based bioeconomy has attracted a lot of attention as contemporary economic development encounters ‘limits to growth’ due to the scarcity of natural resources and increasing concerns about climate change (Dabbert et al., 2017). The bioeconomy promises to contribute to the creation of new economic opportunities – for instance, through new business formation and entrepreneurship, increased resource efficiency, energy independence, and employment creation. The concept of the bioeconomy is therefore not only closely associated with goals of environmental sustainability and energy independence but also with new opportunities to localize regional value chains, and create new connections between rural and urban regions (Bugge et al., 2016).

However, transition towards a more regional sustainable development, requires a dramatic rethinking of firms, research institutes and government agencies in their strategies and behavior (Hermans, 2018). In an increasingly competitive and uncertain environment, firms’ R&D cooperation and network positioning strategies provide key advantages such as access to new knowledge stocks, costs and risks sharing (van der Valk et al., 2011).

In this special session, we turn our attention on R&D cooperation, clusters and innovation networks to gain an in-depth understanding of how these hybrid organizational forms may affect sustainable economic development at the regional level, i.e. the advancement of environmentally friendly technologies, innovative products and services, and production processes within the field of the bioeconomy. At the same time, many open questions arise when looking at appropriate policy design strategies for sustainable regional development.

We particularly welcome submission in the following on sustainability focused transition processes at micro, meso and macro levels, for instance:

  • The role of entrepreneurs in innovation networks for the bioeconomy
  • Regional change agents and change management
  • The drivers of sustainable transitions in regional innovation networks and their impact on regional bioeconomy development
  • Comparative studies assessing regional innovation networks and sustainability transitions in the bioeconomy and the agricultural, energy, or transport sector.
  • Innovation policy as a tool for path breaking and path creation of regional economic development towards a bioeconomy
  • The role of bioeconomy clusters in regional development and their implications for sustainability at different scales (trade-offs and
  • The localization of regional value chains and circular and industrial ecology approaches in bioeconomy clusters
  • The drivers of eco-innovation in regional innovation networks

Further topics related to these issues are highly welcomed as well.


BUGGE, M. M., HANSEN, T. & KLITKOU, A. 2016. What Is the Bioeconomy? A Review of the Literature. Sustainability, 8.

DABBERT, S., LEWANDOWSKI, I., WEISS, J. & PYKA, A. 2017. Knowledge-Driven Developments in the Bioeconomy: Technological and Economic Perspectives, Cham, Switzerland, Springer International Publishing.

HERMANS, F. 2018. The potential contribution of transition theory to the analysis of bioclusters and their role in the transition to a bioeconomy. Biofuels, Bioproducts and Biorefining, 12, 265–276.

VAN DER VALK, T., CHAPPIN, M. M. H. & GIJSBERS, G. W. 2011. Evaluating innovation networks in emerging technologies. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 78, 25-39.

Session organizers (in alphabetical order):

Milad Abbasiharofteha, Aitziber Elolab, Teis Hansenc, Frans Hermansa, Suyash Jollyc, Muhamed Kudicd, Daniel Schillere,f
a) IAMO: Leibniz Institute for Agricultural Development in Transition Economies, Halle (Saale), Germany
b) Orkestra – Basque Institute of Competitiveness, Donostia-San Sebastian, Spain
c) Department of Human Geography, Lund University, Sweden
d) Chair of Economics of Innovation and Structural Change, University of Bremen, Germany.
e) Economic and Social Geography, University of Greifswald, Germany
f) Steinbeis Research Centre on Regional Economics and Innovation Systems, Germany


  • University of Stavanger - Norway


  • Lyse Energi
  • Research Council of Norway
  • stavanger kommune
GEOINNO2020 is over. Thank you all 411 who came to Stavanger for these three days!