News - December 19, 2011

New centre for bio-based economy

Wageningen University and four applied sciences universities will develop specialized education courses related to the bio-based economy in the yet to be set up Centre for Biobased Economy. Small and medium-sized enterprises will be able to carry out applied research here.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation will invest five million euros in the centre. While this amount has been pledged by minister Verhagen during his visit to Wageningen UR in February, the plan has now been worked out. The centre also expects to have another five million euros, to be contributed by participating companies and the knowledge centres themselves. This will bring its total budget to ten million in the next five years.
The centre will focus on developing education courses and on applied research. Wageningen UR will join forces with the agricultural universities of applied sciences VHL, CAH Dronten, HAS Den Bosch and InHolland (Delft branch). These applied sciences universities will start or continue giving lectures in the development of products, energy or bulk chemicals from biomass. The centre will support two PhD candidates in each applied sciences university to enable teaching staff to carry out applied research under the supervision of Wageningen UR. This research will generate a knowledge base from which new teaching materials can be developed. The participants will jointly set up BSc programmes and the university will set up a specialized MSc course.
In addition, the centre will make knowledge vouchers available to companies for purchasing knowledge in areas such as manure fermentation, grass refining, algae breeding or bio-based product development. The companies are also required to make monetary contributions. Rene Wijffels and Mathieu Streefland of the Bioprocess Engineering Group will head the centre initially.
The centre will probably come under one or two of the government's top sectors. The top sectors associated with the bio-based economy are the chemistry and the agro-food sectors.