The bioeconomy is generally conceived as an economy based on land- and marine-based natural resources including eco-system services and biowaste. The dominant research has focused on the resource approach, i.e. the supply of different biomass products and services. Less emphasis has been put on the products and services stemming from the bioresources and the value differences these may have for individual entrepreneurs, for circular economy clusters or for municipalities and regions. This article is a first attempt for a more comprehensive assessment of regional economic and social impacts of the new bioeconomy in the Nordic countries. Combining employment statistics and empirical cases, we show how the new bioeconomy makes important contributions to more environmentally and socially sustainable economic growth, particularly in the rural areas of the Nordics. The data and cases show the importance of the regional and local levels in creating the new institutional structures for cooperation between firms and public authorities that pave the way for successful synergistic clusters. Such clusters allow for a reduction in waste streams and the replacement of fossil fuels and other inputs, while also creating significant local added value, local jobs and reducing climate emissions.
Keywords: Bioeconomy; Circularity; Employment development; Governance; Institutional innovation; Nordic region.
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