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Value Chain Configuration in Traditional Sectors –Potentials for a Bio-Economy Transition in the Sugar Industry

Authors: Max Mittenzwei*, University of Greifswald
Topics: Economic Geography
Keywords: bio-economy, value chains, traditional sectors, sugar industry
Session Type: Paper
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In recent years, the research field of bio-economy has experienced significant global growth. The topic is receiving more and more public attention and is being discussed intensely in political and scientific spheres. The bio-economy received a strong political push by European policymakers after the installment of a “knowledge-based bio-economy” 15 years ago. While playing an essential role in EU politics, the bio-economy still lacks a coherent understanding across multiple actorial layers. Especially low-tech companies are at risk of getting overlooked by policymakers because of the focus of innovation policy on R&D activities and high-tech innovation. However, long-established companies in traditional sectors may play an essential role in the transition from a fossil-based economy towards a bio-based one.
Against this backdrop, the paper aims to examine the value chain configuration in traditional sectors by taking the sugar industry as an example and to assess the potential for a bio-economy transition. By applying an actor-based perspective, value chains of the sugar industry in four different regions in Europe are compared with each other. Based on specific barriers and drivers for a bio-economy transition within the four regional value chains, the findings are scaled up to inform the broader bio-economy discourse. From a conceptual point of view, the paper discusses whether the value chain approach is still practicable in a bio-economic context and suggests possible adaptations.

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