Fraunhofer Strategic Research Field

Bioeconomy

The combination of a growing global population, climate change, dwindling resources and the loss of agricultural land presents global challenges that can only be overcome by a new understanding of sustainable value creation. This transformation requires us to leave behind economic models based on the exploitation of fossil fuels. Instead, we need to move toward bio-based production, working methods and lifestyles – the bioeconomy.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft study biological systems and combine their findings with creative technologies to develop pioneering innovations for a sustainable, bio-based economy. They strive to use the materials, material streams, structures and principles of living nature in technology and channel them into circular production models and concrete products. Examples include the development of highly stable and resilient materials from renewable resources, the re-shaping of mobility and energy systems based on the model of resilient ecosystems and the replacement of animal testing in medicine with intelligent, cell-based test systems.

To create a livable future, we need innovations that get the right balance between environmental issues and the interests of business and society. The bioeconomy is a key driver of the transition toward a sustainable and climate-neutral economic system. It opens up the potential for sustainable solutions that preserve resources and create prosperity at the same time.

 

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Biological Transformation

Biological Transformation means nothing less than the increasing application of materials, structures and principles of living nature in technology and management with the goal of sustainable value creation.

Impact on society as a whole

Digitalized value chain

Digital transformation affects almost every area of our lives and opens up new opportunities for our society and economy. The impact of new developments and solutions extends far beyond individual applications and provides a stimulus to entire sectors of industry. The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft drives forward targeted aspects of digital transformation in order to accelerate and enhance digital value creation across all areas.

Digital transformation poses both major challenges and tremendous opportunities. Entirely new value chains are emerging on the back of increasing connectivity and automation, the pooling of data from diverse sources and the creation of digital interfaces to customers. Digitalization is radically changing our economy by transforming the nature of production, retail, services, logistics and transport. For many years, Fraunhofer has been one of the key drivers behind connected manufacturing and digital innovation in Germany. Its contributions help companies harness the full potential of digitalization.

Fraunhofer researchers tackle key aspects of IT security, data sovereignty, Industrial Data Space, artificial intelligence, next-generation computing and IT infrastructures. Their expertise plays a key role in driving digital transformation and boosting the competitiveness of German and European companies. All in all, our research and development work helps our economy and society to meet the challenges of digitalization and harness the opportunities that digital transformation offers.

Fully circular economy

Several million tonnes of waste are produced each year, ranging from construction waste, scrap wood and municipal solid waste incineration bottom ash to carbon fiber-reinforced composites and electronic waste. With resources becoming scarcer and sustainability moving up the political agenda, the time has come to move away from our current mostly linear approach to resource use and switch to a circular economy.

A circular economy is the opposite of the "take, make, dispose" model of production that still prevails today. In our current linear or “throw-away” economy, most of the natural resources we use are sent to landfill or incinerated once a product reaches the end of its useful life. Only a small proportion is re-used or recycled. In contrast, a circular economy promotes a renewable or regenerative system of industrial production. Its goal is to minimize the use of resources and the generation of waste and emissions and to make a more efficient use of energy. This can be achieved by slowing, narrowing and closing energy and material loops. Key tools for this purpose include long-lasting design, maintenance, refurbishing, repair, reuse, remanufacturing and recycling. 

The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft actively seeks to help shape the transition from today’s primarily linear economy to a circular economy. It does this by conducting research into the necessary systemic, technical and social innovations and the new value creation networks these innovations entail.