BIG-Cluster is an initiative of clusters and networks in the trilateral area Flanders-Netherlands-NRW established in 2013. The focus of BIG-Cluster is to support the bio-based approach of the transition of the chemical industry towards climate neutrality and circularity. BIG Cluster’s scope includes all processes using bio-based feedstocks and biotechnological processes using any feedstock.
What we do
The chemical industry plays a key role in the bioeconomy because its products are used in agriculture, forestry, the food industry, the paper and textile industries, the bioenergy sector, and not least in the production of biobased chemicals and pharmaceuticals. Chemistry thus makes a significant contribution to the success of the bioeconomy, which now generates €2.3 trillion and employs 18.5 million people in Europe.
The center of the European chemical industry is formed by Flanders, the Netherlands, and the German region of North Rhine-Westphalia also called the ARRR or Antwerp Rotterdam Rhine Ruhr Region, producing almost half of the European chemical turnover: In order to keep this region competitive and to align with sustainability goals (climate neutrality and circularity), we have set up a collaboration on Biobased Economy in 2013 named BIG-Cluster.
From this strong position, science and industry in BIG-Cluster accept the challenge to increasingly use biobased raw materials in production. Already today their share is over 10%. Our aim is to increase this share by developing processes based on conventional vegetable raw materials such as sugars and oils, but also to make greater use of raw materials that have not yet been established, such as lignocellulose, industrial and municipal waste and carbon dioxide emissions. BIG-Cluster will continue to work on initiating research and development partnerships for new biobased value chains that fit into a circular economy approach. Therefore, in addition to developing new biobased products and processes, a lot of attention goes to the use of secondary raw materials and waste, in order to contribute to the realization of a circular economy.
This is our contribution to the development of the European bio- and circular economy. BIG Cluster receives political support for this in the Action Plan „to develop a sustainable and circular bioeconomy that serves Europe's society, environment and economy4 published by the EU Commission in 2018.