Institute for Technology Assessment and  Systems Analysis (ITAS)

Systems analysis on goals, visions, value chains, and implementation steps of a bioeconomy in Baden-Württemberg

Project description

The transformation of the economic production base from fossil to biogenic resources, residues, and renewable energy sources which is intended by the European and German bioeconomy strategies affects all areas of society. Such a fundamental transformation process, which is linked to far-reaching changes of the prevailing production systems and material flows, requires a detailed analysis of possible social, ecological, economic, and political impacts at different spatial and temporal scales. The accompanying research project “Bioeconomy in Baden-Württemberg – systems analysis on goals, visions, value chains, and implementation steps related to three pathways – biogas, lignocellulose, and microalgae” (project no. 145) in the framework of the research program “Bioeconomy” of the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Science, Research, and the Arts seeks to contribute some elements to such a systematic analysis of bioeconomy transformations and to strengthen the system understanding.

First step in the analysis was a discussion of the guiding principle, i.e. an analysis of visions, goals, and expectations associated with bioeconomy. The focus here was on a comparative analysis of official bioeconomy strategies. On this basis, scientists of the Baden-Württemberg research clusters biogas, lignocellulose, and microalgae were interviewed to find out about their attitudes regarding the goals of selected bioeconomy strategies, their assessments of certain problems, and the individual project approaches.

The next step was an actor analysis. The systematic assessment of actors first of all includes those actors who develop, realize, and are potentially directly involved in the value chains in the three fields biogas, lignocellulose, and microalgae. Apart from those who are directly involved in the new value chains, also actors from traditional bioeconomy (and other sectors of the economy) are considered who are affected by the innovative bioeconomic value chains, for example by land use competition, new competitive products, or a changing consumer demand. Furthermore, potential conflicts of interest were systematically identified to develop an understanding of the interests and motivations of the actors present in Baden-Württemberg’s bioeconomy. In June 2016, a stakeholder workshop was carried out to discuss different societal positions on shaping the bioeconomy. . The workshop was attended by stakeholders from the three pathways biogas, lignocellulose, and microalgae (which also represent different stages in the value chain) as well as representatives of the Baden-Württemberg government and environmental associations.

Subsequently, a systematic overview of the value chains in the three fields biogas, lignocellulose, and microalgae was prepared, especially with regard to relevant value chains in Baden-Württemberg which already exist or are currently under development. Based on this, a system of potential competitive relationships both between and within the three basic fields material use, energetic use, and use as foodstuff was developed. Within the framework of this analysis the current level of knowledge on cascade use was eventually reviewed.

The next step, an impact analysis, assessed which potential effects on the environment and society are related to the expansion of bioeconomy in the three pathways. The objectives of the impact analysis were:

  • to develop a system of potentially relevant effects which might have to be considered in impact analyses;
  • to give an overview of the important approaches of sustainability assessment and discuss their possibilities and constraints;
  • to identify important aspects of the ecological, social, and economic effects potentially related to the three pathways biogas, lignocellulose, and microalgae;
  • as well as to work out important open research questions for the three pathways against the background of the already realized sub-projects in the research program.

Finally, a policy analysis was conducted to examine the political framework conditions of bioeconomy. Its aim was to systematically identify the policy fields that are relevant for bioeconomy as well as to discuss the impacts of important legal terms on the development and characteristics of bioeconomy at EU, national, and federal state level. Here facilitating, inhibiting, and formative framework conditions of applicable law were considered, important modifications and adaptations of recent years were highlighted, and controversial debates regarding the further development of legislation and the need for adaptation were analyzed. As a final step and based on all the analyses carried out in the project, options for action for a bioeconomy policy were formulated. The options for action identified address policy making in Baden-Württemberg, but in general they are also relevant for bioeconomy policy at the national and EU level.


The above mentioned workshop “Stakeholder perspectives on bioeconomy as societal transformation process” was held on June 20, 2016 in Stuttgart as part of the overall event “Participation workshop bioeconomy”, which was organized together with the BIOPRO Baden-Württemberg GmbH. The following documents provide information about topics, participants and results of the discussion:


Journal Articles
Meyer, R.; Priefer, C.
Herausforderungen des systemischen Ansatzes in der Bioökonomie.
2018. Workshop “Bioökonomie nachhaltig gestalten”, Universität Hohenheim (2018), Stuttgart, Germany, February 28, 2018 
Priefer, C.; Meyer, R.
Rekonstruktion von Visionen und angestrebten Transformationspfaden in Diskurs und Politik zur Bioökonomie.
2018. 8. Internationale Konferenz des Netzwerks Technikfolgenabschätzung (NTA 2018), Karlsruhe, Germany, November 7–8, 2018 
Priefer, C.
Shaping the bioeconomy: Key issues and major lines of conflict in the current discourse.
2017. 3rd European Technology Assessment Conference, Cork, IRL, May 17-19, 2017 
Priefer, C.
The systems analysis approach in bioeconomy research.
2017. Workshop ’The Social Sciences Perspective on Bioeconomy’, Marsilius-Kolleg, Heidelberg, 31.März 2017 
Priefer, C.; Böschen, S.; Meyer, R.; Kuppler, S.
Bioeconomy in the spotlight: TA-perspectives in a contested terain of transformation.
2017. 3rd European Technology Assessment Conference, Cork, IRL, May 17-19, 2017 
Priefer, C.
Systems analysis on goals, visions, value chains and implementation steps of a bioeconomy in Baden-Württemberg.
2016. Meeting of the Research Area Microalgae, Stuttgart-Hohenheim, February 26, 2016 
Priefer, C.; Meyer, R.
Making interactions visible and enabling self-reflection - Technology assessment and systems analysis as part of the transition towards a bioeconomy.
2016. 2nd Status Seminar and Interim Evaluation of the Bioeconomy Research Programme Baden-Württemberg, Stuttgart, October 13, 2016 


PD Dr. Rolf Meyer
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS)
P.O. Box 3640
76021 Karlsruhe

Tel.: +49 721 608-24868