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Business Partnerships

Take Five: Bio-based businesses aiming to stimulate positive environmental change via successful partnerships.

Many companies promoting the bioeconomy have realised that they cannot develop their innovations alone. They can boost their offerings via partnerships with other companies or research institutions. It’s a wise choice. This is because the bioeconomy covers many different sectors (forestry, food production, chemical industries, fisheries, packaging production, and many more). As a result of this heterogeneity, the development of a sustainable, inclusive and balanced bioeconomy requires a holistic approach with broad multi-stakeholder and cross-sectoral collaboration.

In essence, companies are increasingly working together to develop renewable and circular solutions. 2019 saw this trend take off and it shows no signs of stopping in 2020. And, this year will be an important one to step up action on tackling climate change and promoting positive environmental change. Scientists have said that we only have a decade to halve carbon emissions if we are to avoid climate disaster. So, what is the bio-based doing to help achieve this?

Here, Bio Market Insights picks some examples of successful collaborations among sectors and stakeholders with high replication potential.

1) Michelin and other major public and private players in BioImpulse project

Tyre giant Michelin (@Michelin) is leading a six-year project to create a new adhesive resin without any ‘substances of very high concern’ (SVHC). Last October, it announced that it was working with well-known public and private players, including technological institute FCBA, agricultural research institute INRA and engineering institute INSA, as well as Lesaffre through its Leaf (fermentation specialist) business unit, on its BioImpulse project. An SVHC is a chemical substance (or part of a group of chemical substances) for which it has been proposed that the use within the European Union be subject to authorisation under the REACH Regulation.

Industrial adhesive resins historically contain SVHC compounds. The global market for substitution represents significant potential, primarily in the automotive and construction markets.

In a statement, Michelin said that one of the main objectives of the BioImpulse project was to create a new adhesive resin without any SVHC compound, “with an improved impact on both health and the environment”.

The project also aims to develop an industrial-scale fermentation production process of a molecule of interest at a lower cost than its oil-based equivalent.

2) Marrone Bio Innovations and Valagro

From adhesives to agriculture.

US-based biopesticides specialist Marrone Bio Innovations (@MarroneBio) said that it had entered into a strategic partnership to collaborate on research and development efforts with Italy-based biostimulant firm Valagro, last year.

The global, non-exclusive research collaboration will leverage a subset of Marrone Bio’s collection of 18,000 microorganisms in conjunction with Valagro’s biostimulant and plant nutrition products that enhance crop yield and quality. Speaking to BMI last July, Dr. Pam Marrone, CEO of Marrone Bio Innovations, said: “The bio-based plant nutrition market is growing due to the need to find new ways to increase crop yields while increasing sustainability. Biologicals do that! Combining traditional solutions with biologicals provides more efficient uptake of plant nutrients with less environmental runoff.”

3) Ikea and H&M group collaborate on ‘chemicals in recycled textiles’ study.

From agriculture to textiles.

Fashion giant H&M Group (@hm) and furniture giant Ikea (@Ikea) are collaborating on a large-scale study which looks at chemical content in post-consumer textile recycling.

According to H&M, the chemical content of collected pre-owned textiles are unknown, so to ensure the safe reuse of materials in the circular system, the fashion giant and Ikea are hoping to “ensure good chemical management”.

The research for the study began in May 2018. However, H&M and Ikea only presented some initial findings from the study last year at the Textile Exchange Sustainability Conference. “Recycled materials are key elements in a circular economy. However, increasing the use of recycled materials whilst ensuring that we keep these textiles free of toxic chemicals presents a challenge for the industry. We’re pleased to announce that H&M Group and IKEA have joined forces in a study to address this challenge,” said Anna Biverstål, Global Business Expert on Materials at H&M Group.

4) Ford and McDonald’s link up to use waste and give car parts a coffee boost.

From textiles to food and vehicles.

Car giant Ford (@Ford) will be teaming up with fast food giant McDonald’s (@McDonalds) to recycle coffee waste from the restaurant into vehicle parts.

Ford will be taking food waste from McDonald’s and diverting it from landfill to its laboratory, where it will be engineered into bioplastics, the automaker said in a statement.

The recycled materials will be used to make parts like headlamp housings and other interior and under hood components.

“McDonald’s commitment to innovation was impressive to us and matched our own forward-thinking vision and action for sustainability,” said Debbie Mielewski, Ford senior technical leader, sustainability and emerging materials research team. She added: “This has been a priority for Ford for more than 20 years, and this is an example of jump starting the closed-loop economy, where different industries work together and exchange materials that otherwise would be side or waste products.”

5) Covestro and Genomatica team up to research plant-based ‘high-performance’ materials.

And finally, from vehicles to materials.

Germany-based materials manufacturer Covestro (@Covestro) and US-headquartered biotechnology company Genomatica (@Genomatica) have joined forces to research and develop high-performance materials based on renewable feedstocks.

Both companies are aiming to reduce the use of fossil-based resources such as crude oil, which is still the most commonly used raw material for the chemical and plastics industries. Using carbon from plants instead would help reduce CO2 emissions and close the carbon loop in another move towards a circular economy, according to Covestro and Genomatica. This long-term partnership involves teams from both companies working together to drive commercially-focused innovations.

In a statement, Genomatica said that it will deploy its strengths in developing industrial-scale bioprocesses to produce widely-used chemicals. Covestro complements the collaboration with strong know-how in chemical process technology and application development.

The above link ups are just scrape the surface on some of the bio-based companies working hand in hand to have a positive environmental impact. Throughout this decade, there are sure to be more firms within the bioeconomy teaming up with like-minded companies in the value chain to get access to expertise, capabilities, feedstock, assets, markets and capital. Watch this space!


If you were interested in this bioeconomy story, you may also be interested in the ones below.

Read: AVA Biochem links up with Michelin Group to develop bio-based platform chemical.

Read: Carbios inks agreement with Novozymes to scale up PET-degrading enzymes

Read: Industry experts unite to present global plastic recycling plan.

Read: 5 Minutes With… Martin Stephan, deputy CEO of Carbios.

Read: Researchers produce enzymes which could create ‘perfect’ bio-recycling loop for plastics.

Read: Coca-Cola to use bottles made from 100% recycled plastic for three of its brands.

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