Biosintrum is an innovation centre for the circular economy, pioneered by an SME.
This practice takes place within the context of a pioneering family company, that set out not to use damaging pesticides and chemical fertiliser but rather developed natural alternatives that cause no harm to crops or animals. Ecostyle was set up and it grew steadily over more than 50 years, and it steadily grew, developing an important of products sold across the EU.
For further growth a new business was needed, and in line with the company’s philosophy it should cause minimal damage and keep employment local, quite a challenge.
In response, Ecostyle and local government co-developed a site, with a shared facility alled Biosintrum, Frisian for ‘Bio Centre’. This is a breeding ground for everything to do with the circular economy. Business, education and public organisations (as well as involved citizens) meet at this facility and develop innovative ideas that are viable economically.
This aspect of viable economic development as well as having access to tertiary vocational education is important, as this fills a void in this area of the north of the Netherlands that offers a lot of potential for economic development.
It is the public-private cooperation that makes this aspect especially relevant to RELOS3, because here local demand from a local company together with cooperation with public organisations made certain that innovation was kept in this area on a unique business park, rather than moved away to another area in the country.
The Biosintrum needed € 3.85 million in funding, € 1 million from province and local government each, and € 1.85 million as a loan. There are a few employees, but most of the people in the centre are students working on innovative projects and their teachers.
Evidence of success
The first success is the commitment of five educational institues (NHL-Stenden Hogeschool, Van Hall Larenstein, Nordwin College, Friesland College en Friese Poort) to educate students on practical projects, together with about 10 local companies.
Moreover, the facility attracts new companies and stimulates existing companies to product more sustainably.
Where possible, local inhabitants are also involved, for example to discuss sustainable food production.
Because the idea was non-conventional, it was very difficult to convince the local government of the viability of this project. It took a long time before all parties were convinced that a business park of this type would add value for the local community.
Potential for learning or transfer
This practice was found particularly interesting because it shows how the efforts of one company can drive bigger developments that can uplift an entire region.
The actual development of the business park was done in public-private collaboration, with particular attention to the natural qualities of the park. This made it possible to achieve a higher quality business park than would otherwise be possible. Normally much more land would have to be sold, but in this case the natural character of the area could be kept.
As a source of inspiration for public authorities, we think it's important to note that it is crucial to spot and where possible support efforts that are initiated by a private company but potentially may have larger effects. Improved cooperation within the Quadruple Helix can produce results that would be impossible to achieve by just one organisation, whether public or private. Only continuous and productive dialogue is needed.