Model region bioeconomy in the Rhenish mining area


Start of the research network "Model Region Bioeconomy in the Rhenish Revier" - funding of about 72 million euros

Press release of the MWIDE from 31.03.2022

Federal Research Minister Stark-Watzinger: Understanding the coal phase-out as an opportunity and making the Rhenish mining area a region of opportunity for climate neutrality and sustainable value creation

The Ministry of Economic Affairs, Innovation, Digitalization and Energy and the Ministry of Culture and Science announce:

Thanks to a strong agricultural and food industry and a broad-based corporate and research landscape in the field of biotechnology, the Rhenish Mining District offers the best conditions for sustainable, bio-based economic activity. This is a valuable foundation, as new regional value chains and business models are to be established as part of the coal phase-out and structural change. With funding from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) of around 72 million euros, the "Bioeconomy Model Region" is now being developed in an initial funding phase to drive forward the biological transformation in the Rhenish mining region. The federal government and the state of North Rhine-Westphalia are united here in the goal of returning resources to cycles and using new biobased raw materials to develop innovative as well as sustainable products in a wide range of applications. Two projects with broad appeal are now being launched: BioökonomieREVIER PLUS and Bio4MatPro. As part of the initial five-year funding under the regular program, scientists are researching the success factors for the success of the transformation process in parallel with the project "Bioeconomy Understand.Connect.Support".

Federal Research Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger: "Structural change in the German coalfields is one of the great challenges of our time. We want to see the coal phase-out as an opportunity and turn the Rhenish coalfield into a region of opportunity for climate neutrality and sustainable value creation with the "Bioeconomy Model Region". We are focusing on innovations that conserve resources, utilize cycles and replace fossil raw materials. Climate protection is a key issue for the German government. In a first step, we are funding research in over 70 projects with around 72 million euros over five years. This boost to innovation will create regional jobs and added value. Top-class research institutes and strong regional companies are involved. The coalfield can become a model for the whole of Germany."

Economics and Innovation Minister Prof. Dr. Andreas Pinkwart: "The Rhenish coalfield offers ideal conditions for sustainable biobased economic activity. Through the bioeconomy model region, we can strengthen the regional economy and create new, future-oriented jobs in the Rhenish mining area. The bioeconomy model region is intended to lead the way in the biological transformation of the economy and serve as an example for other regions in Germany and Europe. I am convinced that these projects will develop broad appeal."

Culture and Science Minister Isabel Pfeiffer-Poensgen: "Structural change in the Rhenish coalfield poses great challenges, but also great opportunities. Developing into a future region for sustainable, integrated business is one such opportunity. The Rhenish mining area can thus become a model for other regions - even beyond Germany's borders. I am convinced that the sustainable transformation of the Rhenish Mining District into a model region for the bioeconomy with modern jobs will succeed through the joint cooperation of science, industry and society."

  Kick-off event photo of the joint project Bioeconomy in the Rhineland. Copyright: © biotec from left to right: Prof. Berg, Prof. Antons, Ministerialrätin Noske, Prof. Schurr and Prof. Schwaneberg  

To the projects

Competence Center Bio4MatPro

The Bio4MatPro competence center, which is funded with up to 26.3 million euros, comprises 23 collaborative projects with around 50 partners. Under the leadership of Prof. Ulrich Schwaneberg from the Chair of Biotechnology (ABBt) at RWTH Aachen University, applications and examples for the biological transformation of industries are being developed here. This involves a wide variety of sectors, from lightweight construction and industrial biotechnology to the textile industry and medical technology. Science and industry will work closely together here, creating future-proof jobs in the region. A total of eight of the collaborative research projects are coordinated directly by companies.

  Lecture by Prof. Schwaneberg at the kick-off event of the Bioeconomy Model Region.

BioeconomyREVIER innovation cluster

The BioeconomyREVIER (BioRevierPlus) innovation cluster under the overall leadership of Prof. Ulrich Schurr, Director of the Institute of Plant Sciences at Forschungszentrum Jülich, combines bioeconomic research approaches with very good economic implementation opportunities. Adapted to concrete needs in the Rhenish mining area, a total of 14 "innovation labs" are thematically grouped into the areas of "innovative agriculture", "biotechnology and plastics technology" and "integrated biorefinery". In addition to gaining scientific knowledge, the main aim is to demonstrate by way of example that closer integration and knowledge transfer from research to industry can lead to greater value creation and sustainability. Ten partners from regional universities, research institutions and companies are involved in the interdisciplinary research consortium. After a start-up phase in the WSB immediate program from 2019 with funding of around 24 million euros, the research cluster will now receive 38.5 million euros in funding as part of the regular program.

Accompanying research: Bioeconomy Understand.Connect.Support

A total of 6.8 million euros will be used to support professional monitoring of the technological research projects, the "Bioeconomy Understand.Connect.Support" (Bioeconomy VVU) project. The overarching goal is to systematize findings and experiences in the model region and make them usable in order to better understand regional innovation ecosystems with their specific challenges and success factors. The project consortium, headed by Prof. David Antons, Institute for Technology and Innovation Management at RWTH Aachen University (TIM), is made up of institutes from RWTH Aachen University, Forschungszentrum Jülich and TU Dortmund University.

Further links

YouTube video of the entire kick-off event of the research network "Model Region Bioeconomy in the Rhenish Revier"

Press release: Ministry of Economic Affairs, Innovation, Digitalization and Energy of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia
Technology and Innovation Management, RWTH Aachen: