Please tell us about your vision for the BioEconomy
My view is that bio-based goods and associated services should be concerted to replace the use of fossil fuels as much and as quickly as possible. Stretching the persistence of renewable materials through circularity and their pervasiveness with innovation. My vision concerns the forest bioeconomy in Michigan and the ‘lakes states’ of the US. My vision is that regions/states develop their bioeconomies based on their natural resources, human resources and industrial capabilities and potentials. Raw materials should typically travel less than finished ones. Value added products are then traded between regions and countries and continents. My vision of course includes larger perspective that regional efforts will compliment those taking place in agricultural and aquatic systems; and other regions of the US and world.
How are we going to get there?
A good vision is a good start. However, a broad inclusive view of the bioeconomy is largely without Federal or State level policy support in the US. Without government incentives, we resort to finding where industry is willing to engage. We work to engage those interested in at least some aspects of the bioeconomy or circular economy to find common group and ways to move forward. Working across sectors to build a value chain is and find ways to link interests and sectors.
It seems to me that several States in the US are developing visions and plans more aligned with a European style or interpretation of the bioeconomy rather than the US federal government, whose definition is largely relegated to fuel products from agricultural biorefineries. For instance, the Mass Timber movement that is taking off in the US is largely federally supported by the US Department of Agriculture, but outside their own view and definitions of a bioeconomy.
How will the event in Ruka help with your vision and strategy for the future of the BioEconomy
As the concepts of the bioeconomy evolve and solidify, those with a firm understanding of it and its direction should be able to utilize this insight to execute initiatives that grow the bioeconomy ‘back home’. I do expect to bring back examples of ongoing efforts and proven success to my state/regions with the intention to spread that success. The undertaking of the bioeconomy is imperative, yet still early in development, so I again look forward to participating in the collegial setting found at the meeting in Ruka.