A collaborative research project as FRACTION could deliver a wide range of results spanning across incremental results to new discoveries. In reality, results from a research project often appear as incremental or for the more advanced, as evolutionary results.
Figure 1 illustrates how incremental results are anticipated to connect quite easily with existing users (i.e., the industry), current techniques and practices. However, more work and new collaborations are usually required before evolutionary results could be deployed by industry.
Figure 1. Positioning incremental and evolutionary research results for their exploitation routes. (K. Hamann, 2011)
Results that are near to applied knowledge, known techniques, existing products or value chains may lead to diversifications in current solutions, new customer groups or improved technologies and processes. This points to a high potential for industrial exploitation of this kind of incremental results in the short term hence, a rather broad dissemination and uptake. In other words, industry typically turns incremental results into innovations appearing as new products, improved technologies, new value chains or even new business models.
Deeper research and high-level development work is required for taking evolutionary results to the next level: Industrial innovation. This is because the evolutionary results could induce changes that would significantly advance the current state-of-play in dimensions including technology, materials, and organizations. Evolutionary results in the FRACTION project could materialize as enabling the use of new types of feedstocks, improving the feasibility of chemical pathways, or facilitating the development of new products.
Therefore, evolutionary results lead to technological advancement, innovative solutions, and new partnerships and practices. Given the high ambition level of the FRACTION project it is expected that one or more of the results would be characterized as evolutionary with significant potential for changing procedures, demands and applications within the biobased industry. However, there could be major challenges in industry for the uptake of such results. The challenges could relate to e.g., the need to identify and build new partnerships, connecting with existing technologies, or that end-user applications are only at pilot-scale. This calls for an exploitational approach to discover how to connect evolutionary research results with industry.
The R&D work in the FRACTION project has the potential to deliver results that may appear as gamechangers for the biobased industries and their value chains. With better exploitation of feedstocks, improved processes and new value chains, it is the ambition of the FRACTION project to underpin a transition to a more sustainable and biobased society.
CEO, Head of Research
IFAU Institute for Food Studies & Agro Industrial Development