Minister for Agriculture, Food, and the Marine Charlie McConalogue TD, along with his colleagues Ministers of State Martin Heydon TD and Senator Pippa Hackett announced the opening of a new innovation funding measure for the bioeconomy.
The ‘Bioeconomy Demonstration Initiative’ is part of the EU Just Transition Fund for Ireland and is designed to pilot and demonstrate the bioeconomy in action within the Just Transition Fund Territory. The scheme is co-funded by the Government of Ireland and the European Union through the EU Just Transition Fund.
It will offer the opportunity to support close collaboration between stakeholders along the entire bio-based value chain, including SMEs, research performing organisations, universities, local authorities, clusters, primary producers, bioprocessing industries, and consumer brands.
It will support bioeconomy innovation at the Just Transition Fund territorial level and will seek the active involvement of local actors (e.g., NGOs, local and regional authorities, community, and local action groups) alongside the bio-based industries.
In making the announcement, Minister McConalogue stated, “the bioeconomy has significant potential to improve the environmental, economic and social sustainability of the agri-food sector. For example, it is now possible to replace products produced from fossil-resources with those produced by bio-resources from land and sea, including new biofertilisers and biopesticides, high protein food and feed, bio-based plastics and textiles, and much more besides. Utilising biomass, including biowastes, from agriculture, food production and processing in this circular way means we can extract more value from our agri-food system while simultaneously improving overall environmental and climate sustainability.”
Minister of State with special responsibility for research and innovation Martin Heydon TD remarked, “the Just Transition funding for bioeconomy demonstration initiatives in the midlands will build on the research and innovation capacity that has been developed through previous funding of more than €25 million by my Department. With these building blocks now in place, it is critical that we move those bioeconomy innovations from the research lab to scaled up demonstration level. This will help the agri-food system to become more circular, sustainable, and resilient.”
For her part, Minister of State with responsibility for Land Use and Biodiversity, Senator Pippa Hackett commented, “we have secured a total of €20 million for bioeconomy demonstration initiatives in the Midlands under the Just Transition Fund. I am hugely excited by the potential for Midlands farmers, community groups, research organisations, local authorities, SMEs and other enterprises to come together to realise the potential of the bioeconomy for this region and beyond. The 2023 call has a budget of €10 million for two separate projects, each of which will be eligible to receive funding of up to €5 million. Through this year’s call we are seeking proposals to develop biobased products, services and jobs that will help us move to a more sustainable, climate-neutral economy here in the Midlands. I’m looking forward first of all to seeing the successful proposals getting up and running in the Midlands, and ultimately then seeing their pilot projects replicated across Ireland and further afield in years to come.”