According to UNO estimations, the world population is going to increase significantly from at present 7 billion to more than9 billion people by 2050. Simultaneously, the available agricultural area and grassland will decrease rapidly due to climate changes and soil degradation and fossil fuels will be exhausted in the foreseeable future. For these reasons, humankind will be confronted with great challenges and has to change its dealing with natural resources. Existing biological resources must be used by innovative processes more sustainably than before. Bioeconomy can significantly contribute to meeting these challenges. The basics of bioeconomy are the biotechnological research and the resulting innovations in the agricultural economy and the manufacturing sectors and all related services, which develop, produce and process or otherwise use the biological resources (plants, animals, microorganisms).

Plants are the central column of the bioeconomy, as they are the basis of all life. Photosynthesis provides the material basis on which our society is built on. Even today, we do not only depend on plants for our food and nourishment, but plants also provide the raw material for the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries and are used as fuel.

The plant-based bioeconomy is one of the key industries of the 21st Century to secure the future provision of food, feed and renewable resources and to overcome the dependence on fossil fuels. The ScienceCampus Halle - plant-based bioeconomy (WCH) unites leading experts in the field of plant science, agricultural, economic and social sciences in order to meet these social challenges of our time.


(Foto: Michael Deutsch)

Saxony-Anhalt’s key topic of the future: biobased economies

International experts from business and science met in Halle (Saale) at the fifth International Bioeconomy Conference on the 1st and 2nd of June 2016. They discussed the pre-requisites and opportunities for changing to biobased resources as the basis of a climate-neutral, biobased economy. In addition to biorefinery concepts and value chains, conference topics included socioeconomic aspects, as well as the stress tolerance and productivity of plants. The specific regional approaches being used in the model region of Saxony-Anhalt and Central Germany were presented for the first time in their own sub-sessions. The conference was organized by the ScienceCampus Halle - Plant-based Bioeconomy (WCH) and the BioEconomy Cluster.

Once again the organizers of the two-day conference invited a number of renowned speakers with the aim of advancing the development of the biobased economy in the region of Saxony-Anhalt and Central Germany through the use of European synergies. Partner countries of this year’s conference were from the BeNeLux region. Particular attention was paid on both days to the countries’ bioeconomic developments. More than 240 participants from science, politics and business discussed the requirements and opportunities for a change in raw material away from petroleum towards renewable, biobased resources. The partner cluster Biobased Delta from the Netherlands was, naturally, among the guests. At the conference, held at the Leibniz Institute for Agricultural Development in Transition Economies (IAMO), it was shown that the bioeconomy is a key topic of the future for Saxony-Anhalt.

Conference representatives were united in wanting to strengthen and expand the common pioneering role of this economic and scientific issue within the European context. Speaker Prof. Hans van Meijl from the University of Wageningen in the Netherlands explained how necessary it is for science, business and policy to work closely together in this context. “In order to achieve positive macro-economic effects and emission reductions, we need a number of measures, like a tax on CO2, as well as further research activities.” This effect can be achieved by combining rapid technological change with global markets that have low prices for biomass. Prof. Erik Gawel, from the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research, also pointed out that the competition between renewable raw materials and fossil fuels is skewed as a result of the limited internalization of environmental costs.  

Science is on the right path and process intensification in biorefineries is in full swing. Prof. Ludo Niels, from the Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO) in Belgium, vividly explained that the trend towards sustainability and resource efficiency is ongoing, whereby the main focus is on energy efficiency and environmentally friendly processes. Hence, the overall focus is directed towards process intensification. 

The 5th International Bioeconomy Conference once again highlights the role of Saxony-Anhalt as a model region for the bioeconomy in Germany and Europe. Two leading organizations, the Science Campus Halle (who launched the conference in 2012) and the BioEconomy Cluster, are headquartered in Halle (Saale). Hans-Joachim Hennings, Head of the Department of Research, Innovation and Europe at Saxony-Anhalt’s Ministry of Economic Affairs, considers his state to be heading in the right direction in terms of a biobased economy. With its state-of-the-art agriculture sector and a wide research base for plant science, the state is best equipped to meet the goals of the national research strategy “BioEconomy 2030”, which aims to establish as stronger biobased economy. Says Hennings: “Saxony-Anhalt has developed into a center of biomass use in terms of cultivation and utilization. In 2014 the State of Saxony-Anhalt declared “chemistry and bioeconomy” to be one of its five lead markets. The bioeconomy provides new markets and opportunities to grow, which we want to take advantage of.”  

The global population is expected to rise to 30 billion people by 2030 – with the size of the land available for food cultivation remaining unchanged. Climate change will prompt an increase in extreme weather and a scarcity of natural resources like food and water. There is a growing consciousness about this issue, however courses of action are still being sought. The bioeconomy is considered to be one of the key concepts of the 21st century.  

The 6th International Bioeconomy Conference will take place on the 10th and 11th of May 2017 in Halle (Saale). More information can be found at www.bioeconomy-conference.de

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First own WCH-grant awarded

The natural science and economic research network ScienceCampus Halle - Plant-Based Bioeconomy (WCH) promotes from 1st November 2015 the student Christin Mannewitz of the Burg Giebichenstein University of Art and Design Halle. The student in textile design examines the potential of plant (waste) for the development of new materials and had already produced in first attempts compostable bags from agricultural waste. For six months she will receive for the realization of her Master's thesis monthly the BAföG maximum rate.

With her bachelor thesis Christin Mannewitz had developed an own material which has enough strength to make bags or similar products. She is using the technique of papermaking from different plant waste such as straw or rhubarb and asparagus peelings. Based on these results the experiments for papermaking are now being further developed. The analysis of the experimental use of the material in terms of aesthetics, stability and processing is paramount. According to a circular economy, more detailed experiments are carried out in terms of durability and coatings. The theoretical analysis of the work deals with bioeconomy, its necessity and criticism.

Against the backdrop of increasingly scarce resources, it is among other things necessary, to improve the extensive utilization of all parts of plants to provide plant-based, healthy food and products for the world's population. One of the aims of the WCH, a association of experts in the field of plant, agricultural, economic and social sciences and biotechnology sponsored by Saxony-Anhalt and the Leibniz Association, is to strengthen the teaching in this area and to work transdisciplinary. At the initiative of the WCH three industrial scholarships for Master Students of Crop Sciences of the Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg have been raised. The grant for the project of the Burg-student is the first scholarship specially awarded by the WCH.

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Dr. Nico Dissmeyer, Nadja Sonntag, Prof. Klaus Pillen at the Hugo-Junkers-Award-Night

Hugo-Junkers-Award: ScienceCampus Halle honored twice

The ScienceCampus Halle – Plant-Based Bioeconomy (WCH) has been awarded with the Hugo-Junkers-Award for research and innovation from Saxony-Anhalt 2015. In the Ständehaus Merseburg Hartmut Möllring, Minister of Science and Economy of Saxony-Anhalt, presented on the 15th of December the award for the 3rd place in the category "Most Innovative Alliance". The prize is endowed with 3,000 Euros. In addition, the junior research group of the WCH by Dr. Nico Dissmeyer at the Leibniz Institute of Plant Biochemistry (IPB) also received in this year's special category "Chemistry and Bioeconomy" the 3rd place with 2,000 Euros in prize money.

"The award is credit to our previous collaborative work in the field of plant-based Bioeconomy and a good incentive for our future projects," says Prof. Dr. Klaus Pillen, co-speaker of the ScienceCampus Halle. The seven-headed and independent jury of experts from science and business of the Hugo-Junkers-Award honored with the award the inter- and transdisciplinary collaborative research of the ScienceCampus Halle. The so far unique combination of plant science and economy under the roof of the WCH takes up with the pressing social issues of our time. Existing biological resources must be used more sustainable than before through innovative methods. Here the WCH with its interdisciplinary research can help to meet these challenges. The prize money will now be used to develop an event format to integrate further potential industrial partners in the research network and to realize innovative and sustainable product ideas.

For the past 25 years, the Ministry of Science and Economy praises industry with this innovation award. With the Hugo-Junkers-Award for Research and Innovation in Saxony-Anhalt, the proficiency of innovative entrepreneurs and scientists is honored and their work is supported. A total of 74 applications from companies, universities and research institutions have been received, of which 15 were recently awarded. The competition is endowed with a total of 90,000 Euros and is awarded in five categories.

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Promoted by:


National Research Strategy BioEconomy 2030

Spitzencluster BioEconomy

European Commission

The International Consortium on Applied Bioeconomy Research

EuropaBio - the European Association for BioIndustries

Cooperations of the Leibniz Association with universities

FACCE JPI  - Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change

Founding Members Associated Members
WCH-Founding Members WCH-Associated members