The Research Council of Norway’s (RCN) Work Program 2012-2021 on sustainable innovation in food and bio-based industries presents itself as a “visionary framework” for the development of a “bioeconomy.” As the combination of multiple transitioning socio-technical systems (e.g. forestry, farming, fisheries, biosciences, industry) the move to a bioeconomy does indeed require “visionary” work. In particular, developing a “smart” bioeconomy (integrated, human-capital and technology based, and wisely implemented) requires development across and between the biosectors. In addition, as a societal transition, it needs to be acceptable by citizens and consumers alike, while the reconfiguration of the resource base to biomass and move to a knowledge economy raises issues for intellectual property (IP) and other property rights. BIOSMART promotes a “smart” transition by conducting a major foresighting exercise on stakeholders in the bioeconomy. An initial extensive foresighting process will cover 1500 businesses from the farming, forestry, fisheries, bio-science and industry sectors to develop SEPARATE industry scenarios of bioeconomic development.
A number of key scientific studies will be conducted around the foresighting exercise. These look at bio-tech transitional processes in Norway, issues of IP and land use rights, how the resources envisaged for the bioeconomy might be sourced, optimal location of bioeconomic development, whether the new bioeconomy will be environmentally sustainable and energy efficient, and what level of value creation we might expect. These will provide input into a second round of foresight aimed at developing 4 INTEGRATED scenarios of bioeconomic development across all sectors and stakeholders and suggesting ways of achieving the transitions. While there are numerous scientific, advisory and policy outputs from BIOSMART, the main outcome will be to prepare industry, government and society for the coming transition to a “smart” bioeconomy.