The Irish Bioeconomy Hub Open for Business


Published on 30-11-2016 09:37:49 by AGRIFORVALOR

CakePHP Almost 100 delegates participated in the launch of the AgriForValor Irish Biomass Innovation Design Hub on Wednesday 23rd of November at CityWest Hotel, Dublin, Ireland.

AgriForValor, a Horizon 2020 bioeconomy thematic network, aims to close the research and innovation divide by connecting practitioners from agriculture and forestry with researchers, bioindustry, and innovation agencies in order to valorize and exploit sidestream biomass resources.

The launch of the project attracted multi-actor participants from Ireland and beyond who were keen to see the latest good practices and innovations in the bioeconomy. Leading experts from across Europe introduced participants to a selection of the key enabling technologies, and good practices leading the charge to add value to agricultural and forestry residues. Following an introduction to the AgriForValor project by co-ordinator Harmut Welck (Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum), Prof. Kevin O’Connor, Chair of Scientific committee for the Biobased Industries Joint Undertaking, set out the current status of the bioeconomy at a European level and focused specifically on the array of opportunities for developing a biobased economy in Ireland.

A session on Bioenergy commenced with talks from Paul Kenny CEO of Tipperary Energy Agency and Tom Bruton of BioXL, focusing on biomass technologies, renewable heat and carbon counting. Jack O’Connor, Founder and Director of BSHL then provided the first good practice case study of the day, with a fascinating account of BSHLs journey from concept to commercialisation of fluidised bed combustion technology. This technology produces renewable energy from chicken litter with such efficiency that the abundance of heat energy generated has been found to promote animal welfare with the added bonus of close to zero emissions, and residue produced has significant nutrient recycling value A panel discussion involving all three bioenergy speakers along with Prof. Kevin O’Connor and Frank Groome (Department of Climate Action and Environment) was then initiated, with a focus on the much awaited Renewable Heat Incentive which is entering its final consultation phase. There was a lively discussion on the shape format and merits of the RHI and an acknowledgement on the need to proactively progress policy developments to create the market conditions required to enable the development of a biobased economy.


Dr. Caitlin Burns of NNFCC and AgroCycle opened session 2 which focussed on the production of value-added biobased products. Caitlin gave a number of exciting demo and commercial examples of valorisation of feedstocks like whey, cellulose and lignin to biobased products along with key insights on market and policy aspects. Edwin Keijsers from the Food and Biobased Institute at Wageningen University, provided an insight into valorisation of grass through green biorefineries, presenting a case study on Biowert GMBH on the production of bioplastic composites, insulation material, food additives and energy from grass silage. To close the session, Dr. Claudia Pretschuh of Kompetenzzentrum Holz GmbH (Wood K plus) gave an overview on production of wood polymer composites from wood/forestry residues, during which Tecnaro GMBH were presented as the final case study of the day.

After lunch the focus switched from the commercial to the new with Dr. Maeve Henchion from Teagasc discussing the efforts of the BioÉire project to identify a number of novel near-term high potential value chains for the Irish Bioeconomy. Dr. Lieve Hoflack of the Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant in Ghent followed inspiring the audience on how new ideas could be taken from concept and lab to commercial scale through piloting. In addition to providing an overview of services offered and funding available for SME’s, Lieve also provided specific examples of agricultural and forestry-based resources such as straw, sugar beet, lignin which have been piloted in the Bio Base facility. Patrick Barrett, NCP for Horizon 2020 Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Marine, concluded session 3 with an overview of bioeconomy developments in Ireland and Europe, detailing funding opportunities available and highlighting recent successes of Irish organisations in securing project funding on bioeconomy-related projects.


The day concluded with a workshop facilitated by Hub members to secure feedback from the multi-actor participants on the ideas presented, opportunities and barriers as well as the role that the Biomass Innovation Hub can play in furthering the bioeconomy in Ireland. There was a strong interest amongst attendees for more information on the potential opportunities for creation of added value for the Irish farming and forestry sectors, an openness to new models of cooperation, creation of new value chains and additional opportunities to come together to network and share ideas and insights. Overall the Irish Hub Launch was a great success, bringing together a large number of multi-actors committed to the further development of the Irish Bioeconomy by adding value to agricultural and forestry sidestreams. Below you can download the various presentations from the expert speakers who participated on the day. The Launch will be followed throughout 2017 with a series of events aimed at providing practical supports and a platform for the development of new innovation and business ideas. The next event – “High Potential Innovation - Exploring Cutting Edge Technologies for Biobased Product Development” will take place on January 25th 2016.



Welcome & Introduction to AgriForValor - Hartmut Welck, Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum, Germany

The Biobased Economy – Ireland: Is the Future Now? – Dr. Kevin O’Connor, UCD, Ireland

Biomass Technologies & Carbon Counting – Paul Kenny, Tipperary Energy Agency, Ireland

The Potential of District Heating in Ireland – Tom Bruton, bioXL, Ireland

Niche Biomass Opportunities – Jack O’Connor, bhsl, Ireland

Proposed Renewable Heat Incentive – Frank Groome, DCCAE, Ireland

Biobased Products, Markets & Policy – Dr. Caitlin Burns, NNFCC, UK

Grass Biorefinery – Edwin Keijers, Wageningen University, the Netherlands

Wood-based Polymers – Dr, Claudia Pretschuh, Kompetenzzentrum Holz, Austria

New Value Chains: Ireland’s Opportunity Landscape – Dr. Maeve Henchion, Teagasc, Ireland

Towards Commercialisation – Dr. Lieve Hoflack, Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant, Ghent, Belgium

Funding Opportunities – Patrick Barrett, NCP Horizon 2020, DAFM, Ireland