Our focal regions


About the focal region

In the Southern Region of Ireland, various bioeconomy initiatives are already in progress. Research and demonstration activities such as Biorefinery Glas, Farm Zero C, and BioWill, along with commercial-level biorefineries and anaerobic digestion plants, contribute to the region’s bioeconomy landscape. Leading research institutions and centers like CircBio, MTU, MarEI, BiOrbic, Shannon ABC, and the University of Limerick drive research and education in this field. Established clusters such as the Irish Bioeconomy Foundation and the Circular Bioeconomy Cluster South-West (MTU) play a crucial role in mobilizing private actors in the region. With a significant agri-food sector and a predominance of grassland and coastal areas, the Southern Region of Ireland holds immense potential for bioeconomy activities, including blue bioeconomy and forestry.

Since the publication of the National Bioeconomy Policy Statement in 2018, the bioeconomy in Ireland has experienced growth and development. The Irish government has invested €57 million in research and development and support activities within the bioeconomy. The awareness of the bioeconomy has increased at a national level, thanks in part to the annual Bioeconomy Ireland Week Activity, which promotes the bioeconomy through various events across the country. Currently, the government is in the process of launching its first national Bioeconomy Action Plan for the period 2023-2025.

The agri-food sector, including the Southern Region, is the most active bioeconomy sector in Ireland. With nearly 170,000 employees, the sector plays a significant role in rural areas nationwide. As the agriculture sector contributes a substantial portion of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, reducing emissions by 25% compared to 2018 levels by 2030 is a binding target. This drives the focus on the bioeconomy as a potential solution to address these challenges within the agri-food sector. Recent initiatives in the sector include Biorefinery Glas and Farm Zero C demonstration projects, U-Protein for sustainable proteins and food production, biochar and bioenergy initiatives, as well as the establishment of the wool hub and hemp cooperative.

Regional feedstock and value chains

Opportunities and Challenges

  • Green biorefineries producing protein and material and energy products from grasses, legumes and green plant wastes
  • High value and bulk materials from hemp
  • Bio-based fertiliser and/or bioenergy from animal slurries
  • Bio-based materials from wool fibre
  • Marine biorefineries for co-producing high value materials and energy from algae and fish wastes


  • Ireland has a significant biomass production, particularly from its livestock sector, presenting a valuable resource for the bioeconomy.
  • Integrating bioeconomy approaches can help utilize biomass more effectively, leading to increased resilience within primary sectors that heavily rely on imported inputs such as proteins, fuels, and fertilizers.
  • The bioeconomy offers the potential to produce higher-value materials to meet the demands of established industries in the region, including biopharma and biomedical.


  • Scaling up bioeconomy opportunities is a challenge, as pilot and demonstration-scale technologies are still relatively low in the region, hindering their commercialization.
  • Greater policy support and investment are needed to create a conducive pathway for commercialization of bioeconomy initiatives.
  • Despite progress, there is a need for further efforts to promote the concept of the bioeconomy and increase awareness of biobased products among consumers and end users.

Context and needs of rural stakeholders

What MainstreamBIO brings

  •  Involvement of rural stakeholders, particularly primary producers, is vital for scaling the bioeconomy.
  • Limited understanding of the bioeconomy concept among primary producers highlights the need for improved awareness.
  • Bridging the gap between research and practical implementation in rural contexts is crucial.
  • Developing farmer-involved demonstration projects can facilitate mainstreaming and replication of successful bioeconomy models.
  • Fragmented primary sectors may require capacity-building support for effective bioeconomy implementation.
  • MainstreamBIO supports the development of groups in the Southern Region of Ireland for small-scale bio-based and nutrient recycling solutions.
  • MainstreamBIO provides tools and services to help participants understand sector opportunities and offers technical and business support.


James Gaffey ([email protected])

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