Chemistry, biobased economy and circular economy join forces in new TKI to accelerate innovations

The implementing organizations in the field of knowledge and innovation for chemistry (TKI Chemie) and the biobased economy (TKI BBE) are pooling their expertise and resources in a new Top Consortium for Knowledge & Innovation (TKI). ‘More synergy and more striking power for BBE, Chemistry and the circular economy,’ says the quartermaster for the new TKI, Tom van Aken (CEO Avantium). The new TKI with a new guiding name should be operational by January 2023.

With this joining of forces, we are making an efficiency improvement in the innovation policy of the Top Sectors Chemistry, Agri&Food and Energy,” says Jacqueline Vaessen, Chair of the Top Sector ChemistryNL. The Biobased Economy (BBE) is an economy that uses crops and residual flows from the agriculture and food industry for non-food applications. Until now, the innovation agenda for the biobased economy was organized in three top sectors (Chemistry, Energy and AgriFood) via the TKI BBE foundation.

Peter Molengraaf, Chair of the top sector Energy: ‘The decision of the top sectors Energy, Chemistry and Agri&Food to merge biobased economy and chemistry is very logical from the content of the agendas. Most innovations for the biobased economy are in the field of (bio)chemistry and only to a limited extent in the field of bioenergy.

Dirk Duijzer, Chair of the Agri&Food top sector: ‘We are building on our good collaboration to ensure that all biomass contributes optimally to meeting human needs for high-quality food, sustainable non-food products and, where possible, energy.

Biomass is an indispensable link
Vaessen, together with her colleagues from the sectors involved, wants to ensure that the biobased economy remains a recognizable center of gravity in the new organization in which the TKIs Chemistry and TKI BBE will merge. ‘For a circular economy, alternatives to fossil sources are limited: it is recycling, CO2 from the atmosphere or biomass. The question is not whether, but especially how quickly and on what scale biomass will herald the fossil era‘, says Vaessen. There is already close cooperation between various sectors in the field of BBE: by the chemical sector (use of bio-based raw materials), the energy sector (biomass for biofuels, biogas and bioenergy) and the agri and food sector (agricultural crops as raw materials and for food). Vaessen is grateful to former TKI BBE director Kees de Gooijer. ‘Kees has given BBE an innovation agenda, and has built up an extensive network and portfolio of innovation programmess in a diverse playing field. That is a very strong basis.

To a new organization
The merger of the TKIs BBE and Chemistry creates a new organization. The TKI will be responsible for developing and expanding the innovation agenda of the chemistry and biobased economy, aimed at groundbreaking innovations, circularity, CO2 reduction and sustainable economic renewal and growth. The new TKI also implements the Circular Economy (CE) mission team in close collaboration with the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management (I&W). The government is also a big supporter of this merger. David Pappie, Director of Top Sectors and Industrial Policy at the Ministry of Economic Affairs & Climate (EZK): ‘This organizational change clearly yields synergy benefits. The recent letter from the government about bio-based raw materials and the importance of high-quality application in chemistry and materials means that a decisive entity with a focus on biochemistry and materials is important.” Quartermaster Van Aken wants to complete his work this autumn so that the new organization can start in January 2023.

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