The year is 2073, and the world runs on 100% sustainable resources and energy sources. The market value of oil giants like Shell and Saudi Aramco has evaporated. What has led to the emergence of companies with a market value of 1,000 billion euros, deriving their value solely from biobased resources? What were the, at the time small, transitions that laid the foundation for overcoming the addiction to fossil resources? We proudly welcome Martijn Zieverink as the head of the new Biobased Transitions research group. Together with his team, he will be seeking answers to these questions in the coming years.
Every year, an impressive amount of approximately 16 gigatons of fossil resources are extracted worldwide. Of this vast quantity, roughly one-eighth is converted into materials, while the rest is utilized for energy generation. This leads to a concerning emission of approximately 34 gigatons of carbon dioxide (CO2), with severe consequences for our climate and our planet.
Potential in Biobased Applications
However, these challenges also present opportunities. Simultaneously, there is significant potential in biobased applications. Annually, the agriculture sector globally generates gigatons of residual streams, which have largely remained untapped until now. These residual streams can be transformed into valuable biobased materials and sustainable sources of energy, enabling us to reduce both our reliance on fossil resources and CO2 emissions.
Martijn explains: “If we truly want to make a difference in the transition from fossil to biobased, we need to create companies and processes that have not existed until now. The question from the introduction naturally leads to numerous new questions; technical, social, financial, commercial, legal, and societal. But this type of thinking also encourages us to think outside the box. Take banks and investors, for example: how can we get them to invest in projects where the impact will only be felt in the long run?”
Martijn aims to explicitly investigate the economic and business aspects. The Biobased Transitions Research Group is a valuable addition to the existing research groups at MNEXT. While other research groups often focus on technical aspects, the research within this group follows a more holistic approach. This means that the focus will not be solely on technical aspects but also on broader societal and economic issues related to biobased transitions. With his background in chemical technology and expertise in business development, food tech, new materials, innovation, and sustainability, Martijn is well-equipped to harness this potential.
This research group offers excellent opportunities for collaboration with other research groups, including, for example, the Centre of Expertise Wellbeing Economy & New Entrepreneurship at Avans University of Applied Sciences. The synergy between various centres of expertise and research groups will contribute to an integrated approach to the challenges associated with the transition to biobased materials and processes.
We have full confidence that Martijn is the right person to lead us towards a more sustainable future. His passion for raising awareness among businesses and students and reconsidering sustainability-related choices will have a significant impact on a regional and national level.
For more information about Martijn’s work and the Biobased Transitions Research Group, please contact MNEXT at +31 88 525 0394 or email@example.com.