The article

Bioeconomy clusters, besides stimulating economic and innovative performance, are expected to promote sustainable regional development. Despite their growing popularity, there is still a lack of awareness about how these clusters contribute to sustainability. This paper aims at increasing our understanding of the processes through which bioeconomy clusters generate sustainability effects and promote the bioeconomy transition. We analyze the event-history of the French Bazancourt-Pomacle cluster and interpret its development as a continuous interplay among its geographical, institutional, and structural scales to capture how these dynamics eventually affect specific sustainability scales. The results of the scale analysis reveal that the actors of the biocluster maintain a certain mode of action by organizing their activities along scales related to the valorization of local natural resources, whereas improvements of sustainability appear as a posteriori result of these activities rather than an aim in itself. Our study contributes with novel insights to the literature on sustainability transitions and clusters as well as demonstrates the potential of the scale-perspective for identification and measurement of sustainability trade-offs in a way accessible to policy makers.

The interviewee

David Ayrapetyan, Nicolas Befort, Frans Hermans, The role of sustainability in the emergence and evolution of bioeconomy clusters: An application of a multiscalar framework, Journal of Cleaner Production, Volume 376, 2022

The interview

Hi welcome to Coffee Break with Researchers.  Today I’m having a very special coffee break with the winner of our PhD contest David Ayrapetianm he is a PhD candidate at The leibniz Institute of Agricultural Development. Coffee break with researchers presents you with cutting-edge insights on Regional development and Innovation. We ask researchers directly and in a personal manner about their work. We make scientific knowledge accessible to all.

David it’s a pleasure to have you here in Vienna welcome, how are you doing?

thank you very much I’m happy to be here.

Which coffee are you having?

I’m having a cappuccino made from Colombian coffee.

You like it? I like it, thank you. I’m very happy to hear that, I’m having as usual my Colombian black coffee. David let’s talk about your paper the role of sustainability in the emergence and evolution of bioeconomy clusters, could you please tell me what the paper is about? well the paper is about how we can make the environment more sustainable by applying the concepts of bioeconomy and bio clusters, so the idea was that if we learn more about how bio clusters work we can try to make them more sustainable. And since this is the key concept of your paper could you please define what bio clusters are? yes so generally we don’t find a bioeconomy firm in the middle of nowhere, these firms gather together in one locality and they cluster so to say themselves and we use the term bio cluster to mean that they cluster in one place.

Thank you for that and could you tell us the main findings of your paper?

The main finding uh was that the actors in The biocluster they don’t actually work on making it more sustainable we can say that they act just the way they do and if and how this way of acting leads to sustainability is a different question and in line with the definition of the bioeconomy of course this cluster was using renewable natural resources and if you use them correctly that’s when the sustainability will come up and another finding of the paper is then how this biocluster used them correctly.

In that case and tell us please what was the main motivation behind your paper? why did you choose this PhD topic?

I was previously involved with the field of social ecological systems and in this field you can understand how sustainability comes up by breaking down the system of human nature interactions into its constituent parts and then you see how these parts interact with each other over time and through this interaction mechanism you can then see the mechanism of sustainability, how it comes up and regarding the relevance I mean bioeconomy strategies are pursued by many countries nowadays to address the issues of environmental sustainability and climate change and many policies do this through bio clusters because bio clusters offer the possibility to work both on technological development in the bio economy and also on environmental development

Well let’s talk a bit about that now about the the police implications of your paper, if you had a policy maker in front of you what would you say?

I would say that if you want to make bioeconomy and specifically bio clusters more sustainable you shouldn’t really try to force the sustainability directly, instead it’s better to shape the conditions for sustainability to happen like in the case of our bio cluster is the the actors there they didn’t work on sustainability they worked on new ways to valorize Natural Resources they worked on improving trust among each other they worked on creating new businesses they worked also on new ways of sharing the available resources among each other in the most efficient way and all these conditions together brought to a place where sustainability came in and of itself and in this regard I think I like to make this comparison that it’s a more General principle in life that if you want something new and valuable to happen in your life you don’t often force it directly you instead create the conditions for it to happen and then it can happen by itself so it was interesting to observe a somewhat similar pattern in this case as well how nice reflection thank you for sharing that and we have to let it flow so maybe it comes naturally

David it was a pleasure thank you so much also for these amazing Armenian candies, which I really enjoyed, chocolates with nuts and it was really nice to read your paper all the best for your defense of your PhD and hope to see you next time as a doctor in our coffee break.

thank you very much, thank you for watching, if you’re interested in more details about this academic publication you can find here the link below find us on Twitter Facebook and YouTube or listen to our podcast on Spotify see you next time bye.