The alpine region is recognized as one of the most innovative regions in Europe with a high potential to develop bio-based solutions for the current crucial environmental and societal challenges. This undisputedly represents huge innovation opportunities for businesses. But what sounds fancy on paper turns out to be pretty complex in practice. What is needed to turn lofty opportunities into action are hands-on solutions and tools for both research and industry partners to jointly embark on research, development and innovation (RDI) ventures across borders.
In May 2018, the Plastics Innovation Competence Center (PICC), welcomed representatives from across the alpine region to kick off the Interreg project AlpLinkBioEco with a clear objective in mind: to develop a hands-on, data-driven approach to support the ongoing strategic bio-economy efforts in the participating regions.
Two and a half years into project, its results are taking shape. With the support of our 14 project partners from 8 regions we have built up a knowledge base on actors of the bio-based economy including data on nearly 2000 actors. At the Institute of Complex Systems (iCoSys) of HEIA-FR, we have developed the Value Chain Generator (VCG), a software based on natural language algorithms allowing to match actors from the database to create bio-based value chains (“biolinks”). The VCG is intended for companies and researchers looking for new ideas in the bio-economy. The software enables the linking of individual actors to value chains and the search for similar actors at a specific node of a chain. In its current version, the software is mainly aimed at cluster managers as users who can develop new value chains in cooperation with companies in their region. Exciting first practical trials with the VCG have indeed been made during the summer. In spite of complicated sanitary circumstances, the project partners have been able to take to the (virtual) field and use the data and software to initiate real-world business opportunities with companies across the Alps. The experience is currently being published in a series of videos on the project’s Youtube channel: https://bit.ly/32yxMDK.
The source code of the software will be made available under a free software license at the end of the project (April 2021). We hope that clusters, companies and researchers from different regions will team up in the future to exchange data and generate value chains with the help of the software application. To give interested parties an insight into the tool, we will also provide a web-based demo version with anonymized actors as of February 2021.
Plastics Innovation Competence Center (PICC)
Institute of Complex Systems (iCoSys)