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Systems innovation - facilitating the transition from agrifood to bioeconomy

Subject: adapting existing and configuring new value chains, logistics, new institutional arrangements, facilitating and organizing (system) innovation processes, the design of resilient systems (business, sector, technology, agro-food systems), introducing a systemic perspective in research, adapting policy, legislation and legal frameworks.

A transition to the bioeconomy requires a reconfiguration of the entire socio-technological system. In other words, the current infrastructure, technology, policy, markets, industries, and ways of thinking need to be adapted to successfully develop the bioeconomy. This system innovation requires important incremental as well as more radical innovations.

In addition, new or adapted logistic processes and value chains are also needed, between related industries and between industries that until now had little to do with each other in order to valorise the available biomass as much as possible, cf. the biomass cascade principle. All this requires a holistic approach that takes into account the various socio-economic and technological aspects. Finally, the resilience and resilience of these new systems must be tested and ensured.

Different modelling approaches are applied to gain more insight into how the bioeconomy can be formed. General equilibrium models and optimization models can determine the best possible results under given conditions, but multi-agent or agent-based models are tools that provide insights into how to achieve the best possible outcomes, using different policy measures.

Current ILVO focus

Thematic orientation:

  • Design, organisation and follow-up of system innovation processes within the bioeconomy
  • Value chain organisation for multiple valorisation paths in accordance with the cascade principle
  • Study of supporting public and private institutions and institutional arrangements along the entire value chain.
  • Ex-ante cost/benefit analysis from organisation and value chain perspective

Methodological orientation:

  • Integration of techno- and socio-scientific research approaches
  • Establishment and organisation of participatory approaches with stakeholders along the entire value chain (farmers, logistic parties, processing industry, policymakers, end user), during the design and implementation phases, as a strategy to increase the successful implementation of new technologies in the bioeconomy in Flanders and beyond.

Direction of future research

  • Enlargement with a view to adding other agricultural sectors
  • Logistics
  • Multi-agent business models for value chain organisation
  • Resilience of multiple valorisation processes


  1. The organisation of value chains within the bioeconomy
  2. Innovating in the bioeconomy is not something you do alone
  3. Bio-economy = system innovation. Composting in Flemish agriculture
  4. Your idea sounds good, but is it feasible?
  5. Business Modelling: converting new concepts into value
  6. Towards sustainable agriculture and nutrition
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