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SCI responds to call for evidence on bioeconomy

Hand holding a plant and money

1 Feb 2017

In December, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) opened a call for evidence regarding the future of the UK bioeconomy. The bioeconomy covers a broad range of industries, including agriculture, energy sustainability and biopharmaceuticals, from which SCI draws many members and has several interest groups.

In response to this call for evidence from BEIS, SCI presented a written submission, highlighting the following key points:

  • The UK government’s focus on the bioeconomy will provide economic and societal benefit for the UK and support the UN Sustainable Development Goals, but a strategy needs to focus on areas where UK has key resources to deploy and/or has critical competencies.
  • The bioeconomy is a broad term, covering a complex mix of different industries and sectors. It will be important to narrow the definition in order to determine where sustainable value can be created. A definition that is critical, too complex or too broad does not facilitate a focus on where value can be created or where UK’s resources are best placed to realise value.
  • The UK is behind other countries in this area and can take learning from others to increase its focus and raise aspirations.
  • Developing a bioeconomy requires recognition that a strategy for bio resources needs to sit alongside one for synthetically derived materials. In other words, the Industrial Strategy should cover a strategy for the bioeconomy in addition to strategies for traditional industries.
  • Uncertainty over the future of trade make it imperative the UK becomes more self-sufficient, through more efficient use of primary and secondary feedstocks.
  • Skills required are complex and there are varied needs for different parts of the bioeconomy. Detailed analysis is required to determine skills gaps that needs to be addressed for the future.

The submission date has now passed, with BEIS reporting that a UK bioeconomy strategy should be published in the spring of 2017.
If you would like to read the full submission, please contact communications@soci.org

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