Supporting possibilities of SMEs in bio-based circular economy

The pandemic has set enormous challenges for small and medium-sized companies (SME) all over the world. However, the situation can also offer the potential for new opportunities. Believing and supporting research and development is a key to finding and nurturing these new openings. Even in the times of COVID-19 and possible next pandemics or other crises, we cannot stop and forget about the development.

BIOREGIO – Regional circular economy models and best available technologies for biological streams is an Interreg Europe co-funded project. The project aims to develop bio-based circular economy in six partner regions in Finland, Spain, Slovakia, Greece, Romania, and France. As a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, the BIOREGIO project has received an extension of its duration to mitigate the effect through bio-based circular economy. BIOREGIO has started its activities in January 2017 and continues until the end of 2022.

On 25 January 2022, BIOREGIO organized an online workshop to boost bio-based circular economy together with SMEs to overcome the impact of the global pandemic. Also, the focus was on how the SMEs can better access funding from Structural Funds or other instruments, as it was recognized as challenging. The BIOREGIO partners and their stakeholders had their slots dedicated to sharing concrete examples from their regions. (Interreg Europe 2022.)

A printscreen of a word cloud – a visual representations of words that give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently, generated by the audience of the workshop. It is a collection of one to three words texts of different colours and placed whether horizontally or vertically, such as ideas, interaction, knowledge, share experiences, new ideas, presentation. On top of the screen, there is a question of What do you expect from this workshop. In the centre, there is the wordcloud and on the left bottom, there is a BIOREGIO project logo and on the bottom right, there is an icon indicating the number of 24 people participating in the wordcloud.
Picture 1: A printscreen of the word cloud of the audience’s expectations to gain in the BIOREGIO workshop emphasized learning from each other and sharing ideas and experiences. (Picture: Katerina Medkova)

Insights and feedback

Over 40 people participated in the workshop. Using Mentimeter, an online interactive tool, kept the audience engaged and provided valuable insights and feedback in real-time (Picture 1 and 2). Based on the initial question concerning the expectations from the workshop, the audience stressed sharing experiences, knowledge and ideas, as well as interactions. Also, feedback confirmed that the presentations were inspiriting and may be put into practice in other regions.

A printscreen from the online workshop in TEAMS. On top, there is a line of pictures of some of the participants, who had the camera on. Underneath, there is a question of based on today’s workshop, what you’re your next regional project(s) be about? On the right, there is the BIOREGIO project logo. Under the question, a collection of ideas and replies form the audience is displayed in small text boxes. Altogether nine replies have been generated.
Picture 2: A printscreen from the workshop with replies confirming what will be the next regional project inspired by the presentations and examples shared. (Picture: Katerina Medkova)

Sharing inspiring examples

Two examples of inspiration shared at the event come from Päijät-Häme, in Finland and Nitra region, in Slovakia. Kimmo Heponiemi from LAB University of Applied Sciences (LAB) shared the Päijät-Häme region’s example about how the regional grain cluster is developing a pilot laboratory together with LAB. The aim of the structural fund project is to support companies to develop and prepare for new types of product launches, for example, vegan products. Link to Grain Cluster pilot plant project

Jaroslav Michalko from the Faculty of Biotechnology and Food Sciences at the Slovak University of Agriculture shared an example of a startup company “BioConvert”. The company uses fly larvae to convert food waste into protein-rich animal food. The startup has been awarded as a European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) Jumpstarter at the end of the year 2021.


Katerina Medkova works as an RDI specialist at LAB University of Applied Sciences and is the BIOREGIO Communication Manager. BIOREGIO is an Interreg Europe funded project, which started in January 2017 and lasts until December 2022. LAB University of Applied Sciences acts as BIOREGIO lead partner. Link to BIOREGIO project

Susanna Vanhamäki works as Chief Specialist at LAB University of Applied Sciences and is the Project Manager of BIOREGIO.



Interreg Europe. 2022. BIOREGIO online workshop. BIOREGIO. Cited 26 Jan 2022. Available at

Link 1. LAB University of Applied Sciences. Viljaklusterin pilot plant. Cited 29 Jan 2022. Available at

Link 2. Interreg Europe. 2022. Project Summary. BIOREGIO. Cited 26 Jan 2022. Available at