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Industry expectations regarding the transition toward a biobased economy



The transition from a fossil-input-based economy toward a bio-based economy is not an easy process. Although policy-makers in the European Union (EU) advocate this transition, still most companies and economies in the EU rely on fossil fuels for the production of materials and goods. However, the transition will not only depend on policy but will also involve all stakeholders: consumers, firms, and supporting policy with industry playing a major role. This paper focuses on the perceptions and expectations of industry regarding a possible transition toward a bio-based economy. Based on the multilevel perspective emphasized in transition theory, the opinions of Flemish captains of industry active in the bio-based sector are analyzed. The case of Flanders is taken because it is a good example of a small European economy relying heavily on imported fossil inputs. Based on the views of the captains of industry combined with the multilevel transition perspective, we argue that the transition toward a bio-based economy follows a typical sequence of pathways starting with a transformation pathway and evolving toward a technological substitution or de- and re--alignment pathway. This theoretical transition perspective helps to define which issues related to market development, technology, research, science, and policy, can influence the transition toward a bio-based economy which helps to describe some future directions for Flanders as well as other European regions. © 2012 Society of Chemical Industry and John Wiley & Sons, Ltd