EU’s chemical powerhouse
Flanders, the Netherlands and NRW have been a powerhouse of industrial innovation in the chemistry sector for decades. By leveraging institutional, infrastructural, macroeconomical and educational strenghts, this mega cluster in Northwestern Europe has become responsible for over half of the EU’s chemical turnover, substantially contributing to overall EU GDP.
To further strengthen this leading position, Catalisti and its cluster colleagues of BE-Basic in the Netherlands and CLIB in NRW established the BIG-Cluster in 2013. This cross-border cooperation initiative aims to transform Europe’s industrial mega cluster into the global leader of biobased innovation growth. Specifically, it seeks to improve regional competetiveness in the bioeconomy, safeguard jobs, and align the region with international sustainability goals.
Three key areas
In the past, the BIG-Cluster has identified three key areas for cross-border cooperation: “Aromatics and Fine Chemicals from Woody Biomass”, “Chemicals from CO and CO2” and “Aviation Fuels from Various Feedstocks”. These are all feedstock-to-product flagships that are of great importance to the European bioeconomy. Within these key areas, the goal of the mega cluster is to establish novel value chains, to comprehensively change feedstocks with a focus on regionally available biobased and sustainable raw materials, and to initiate demonstration plants for the production of chemicals and fuels based on sustainable resources, namely biomass and material streams from industrial waste gasses. To realize these objectives, industrial investments should be leveraged and combined with European and regional funds.
Update to common innovation agenda
According to the BIG-Cluster, an updated innovation agenda is necessary to better tackle the challenges faced by the bioeconomy in Northwestern Europe. In a recently published report, the BIG-Cluster summarizes topical developments in its three key areas of cooperation as a starting point for an updated common innovation agenda. For example, the report specifically references Catalisti’s BAFTA project and VITO’s LignoValue pilot project as enabling important innovations concerning lignocellulosic biomass. For more information on this updated agenda, please contact catalyst Tine Schaerlaekens, read the full report, or visit the BIG-Cluster website.