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Project description:

Project no:
Challenges and potentials for the societal transformation towards a sustainable bioeconomy in China
1st project leader:
Pyka, Andreas - Department of innovation economics, University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart
2nd project leader
While the bioeconomy can—in principle—help to achieve many of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (El-Chichakli et al. 2016), sustainability of new bio-based industries and technologies is not guaranteed by itself. This is not least due to diverse focus areas of national bioeconomy strategies as well as cultural and geographical particularities of the innovation system. The European perspectives on the bioeconomy and implementation strategies have received much attention from both researchers and policy makers (e.g., Hausknost et al. 2017; McCormick and Kautto 2013), whereas China’s bioeconomy with its geographical diversity and specific socio-economic challenges remains under-researched so far. Bioeconomy and bio-industries play a central role in China’s various policy documents, strategies, and five-year plans, especially regarding the potential contribution to economic growth. However, there seems to be no clear vision as to what social and environmental challenges and potentials can arise from the transformation to a bioeconomy. Put differently, it can be observed that the normative dimension of the transformation towards a sustainable bioeconomy has received little attention in the context of centrally-planned innovation systems in comparison to the Eurocentric perspective that dominates the academic discourse.

Research steps / milestones
In this four-year research project at the department of innovation economics (led by Prof. Dr. Andreas Pyka) at the University of Hohenheim, the doctoral student will tackle the following issues:
- Create a systematic review and mapping of the bioeconomy-related political documents, initiatives, and actors in China,
- Conduct case study research (e.g., by means of interviews and network analyses) in at least two of the seven subdivisions of the Chinese bioindustry (biomedicine, biomedical engineering, bio-agriculture, bio-based manufacturing, bioenergy, bio-based environmental protection, biotechnology services; cf. Wang et al. 2018) with an eye to the particularities of the regional, sectoral, and technological innovation systems.
- Explore the challenges and potentials regarding the normative dimension of the Chinese innovation system with regard to directionality, legitimacy, and responsibility (e.g., Schlaile et al. 2017).
El-Chichakli B, von Braun J, Lang C, Barben D, Philp J (2016) Five cornerstones of a global bioeconomy. nature 535:221–223

Hausknost D, Schriefl E, Lauk C, Kalt G (2017) A Transition to Which Bioeconomy? An Exploration of Diverging Techno-Political Choices. Sustainability 9:669. doi: 10.3390/su9040669

McCormick K, Kautto N (2013) The Bioeconomy in Europe: An Overview. Sustainability 5:2589–2608. doi: 10.3390/su5062589

Schlaile MP, Urmetzer S, Blok V, Andersen A, Timmermans J, Mueller M, Fagerberg J, Pyka A (2017) Innovation Systems for Transformations towards Sustainability? Taking the Normative Dimension Seriously. Sustainability 9. doi: 10.3390/su9122253

Wang R, Cao Q, Zhao Q, Li Y (2018) Bioindustry in China: An overview and perspective. New biotechnology 40:46–51. doi: 10.1016/j.nbt.2017.08.002

Methods that will be used:
Modern Innovation Economics, Evolutionary Economics, Transformation research, Social Network Analysis, Agent-Based Simulation
Collaboration partners:
European Bioeconomy University
Expected candidate‘s qualification:
Prior experience with case study research, empirical social research, social network analysis, and document analysis would be an asset. Familiarity with evolutionary economics and especially the literature on innovation systems and sustainability transitions is recommended.
The doctoral student is expected to be fluent in both Chinese and English.
Knowledge Diffusion, Transformation of Economic Systems, Bioeconomy, China, Innovation Systems