In October 2020, we began our cooperation with BioBoosteRR, which was initially planned to run until June 2021. We would like to take this opportunity to look back on this time together. To put it all in context, we still need some background on what the BioBoosteRR actually is. Very roughly speaking, it is an accelerator program that brings innovations from research into commercial application through consulting (https://www.biooekonomierevier.de/gruenden_mit_bioboostrr). The program is a cooperation between the BioeconomyREVIER structural change initiative funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), which is coordinated from Forschungszentrum Jülich, and the Cologne-based consultancy compreneur GmbH (https://compreneur.de/). In the context of the end of lignite mining in the Rheinisch Revier (mining area in north rhine westphalia), the structural change initiative is pursuing the goal of developing a model region for a sustainable bioeconomy in this region. In a sustainable bioeconomy, biobased raw materials, such as plant or animal residues, are economically utilized and introduced into a cycle-oriented economic system. The economic transformation in the lignite region therefore offers the opportunity to create such alternative forms of economy with new jobs through new business models and innovations, which is supported by programs such as the BioBoosteRR.

We became aware of the BioBoosteRR through a visit to the Forschungszentrum Jülich (https://www.fz-juelich.de/portal/DE/Home/home_node.html, FZJ) in the summer of 2020, where we were able to exchange ideas with Prof. Ulrich Schurr and with Dr. Christian Klar, initiator and head of the BioeconomyREVIER coordination office, from the Institute of Plant Sciences IBG-2, among others. On this occasion, we presented our association – and together we discussed ideas for the further development of our association. This is when we learned about the BioBoosteRR.

In October 2020, we had the first telephone conversation with the business economist Ingmar Stock and the biologist Niklas Hielscher from the BioBoosteRR program to explore together how the booster could support the association. The constellation of business and scientific expertise was of course ideal for us. Once we had agreed on the framework conditions of how cooperation could look, we met twice a month to map out a plan for the short-, medium- and long-term development of the association and what work would need to be implemented to achieve the various goals. Among these were self-imposed goals such as our own digital events, a concept for financing and implementing our research ideas, and of course ways and means to put the association on an economically independent footing.

What helped us a lot in the cooperation with the BioBoosteRR were many different things. The most important aspect was certainly the regular meetings, to which we naturally wanted to show success and development. A fitting comparison would probably be that you can resolve to go jogging regularly by yourself, but when you arrange to go jogging with a partner, the motivation to jog is much greater because of the shared responsibility that you have for each other.

Another important aspect was the networking character. Our association is broadly diversified by natural and active substances, which leads to many different points of contact with the free economy or with academic research.  BioBoosteRR was always able to offer us a way to contact or establish contacts for our ideas with SMEs from various industries, such as cosmetics or food, but also specifically with certain companies. On the other hand, we were very happy to provide new contact opportunities and experiences ourselves, such as around our move into the co-working space LabAix in Aachen, or our contact to FutureLab Aachen or to the editorial team of Quarks & Co. 

Ultimately, we also learned a lot from a business perspective, for example when we worked with BioBoosteRR to develop business models for the association or for specific business concepts of the association. Of course, as a non-profit association that does not operate for profit, we are not a classic start-up, yet there are economic aspects that the association must take into account when it comes to developing financial independence.

The bottom line is that we would like to express our gratitude to BioBoosteRR and specifically to Ingmar Stock, Niklas Hielscher and Carlotta Muhle, for the stimulating discussions in a trusting working atmosphere and for the professional advice that we have been able to enjoy at this point in time for eight months now. We were very happy that the BioBoosteRR was extended beyond June 2021 until the end of the year 2021, and that we were thus able to continue our journey together a little longer.

Review of eight months with BioBoosteRR

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