Ciara Beausang (School of Biosystems and Food Engineering, University College Dublin) represented AgroCycle at the recent Agriforvalor Study visit to Hungary. Agriforvalor is a Horizon 2020 funded project which aims to enhance biomass valorisation by bringing together relevant practitioners from agriculture and forestry with research and academia to form multi-actor partnership networks. Agriforvalor has organised three study visits for practitioners and researchers, the first of which took place in Hungary on the 19th & 20th of September, 2017.  A total of twenty researchers, farmers and foresters participated in the study visit, with representatives from Hungary, Ireland and Spain.

The first day consisted of site visits to Hungrana Ltd. and Pannonia Ethanol Ltd in rural Hungary. Both enterprises process corn into a variety of bio-based products including sugars, animal feed and bioethanol. Hungary is the fourth largest producer of maize in Europe after France, Romania and Italy. In the evening participants put forward innovative ideas in their relevant areas of expertise in a pitching session.

The second day of the study visit took place at the National Agriculture and Food Exhibition (OMÉK) in Budapest, Hungary, which included participation in the Bio-East Conference. Bio-East is a Central-Eastern European initiative to promote knowledge-based agriculture, aquaculture and forestry in the bioeconomy. Low participation in Horizon 2020 in Central-Eastern Europe is seen as a challenge which is hindering the development of the bioeconomy in the region. The Bio-East initiative aims to promote sustainable growth in the bioeconomy by greater participation in Horizon 2020 at a macro regional level along with more vigorous EU-wide cooperation.

The Bio-East conference included speakers from the European Commission, FAO, as well as representatives from government and industry. Davide Amato from the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation referred to the AgroCycle project when discussing the concept and importance of the bioeconomy. The Estonian and Spanish national bioeconomy strategies were presented and representatives from industry provided their experience in the session “What do we need from policy makers?”. The Bio-East conference highlighted that the concepts of the bioeconomy and macro-regional cooperation need to be made more understandable, and practical tips on how to succeed in widening participation should be shared.

Agriforvalor has established three Biomass Innovation Design Hubs, in Ireland, Spain and Hungary. The Irish Hub is managed by IT Tralee and the next study trip will take place in Spain.