Creating jobs and adding value locally


The bioeconomy provides numerous and skilled jobs, thereby safeguarding social fairness in the transition towards a resilient economy including in rural areas.

This is in line with the European Commission’s latest EU Bioeconomy progress report, which found that “there is a need to transform and re-skill the workforce in all parts of Europe for a just transition”25.

The EU biotechnology industry generates over 900,000 jobs – 223,000 directly, 710,500 indirectly. This includes numerous positive spill-over effects in terms of employment throughout the whole value chain. For every direct job in the biotechnology industry, there are more than three created within the overall economy28. The 2.6% annual growth rate in employment achieved by the biotechnology industry is far above overall rate of 0.2% and demonstrates the role this sector plays in stimulating the EU labour market29.

The primary food processing industry uses around 220 million tonnes of agricultural raw commodities (e.g. cereals, sugar beet, rapeseeds, soybeans, sunflower seeds, crude vegetable oil, starch potatoes, cocoa beans) a year, employing directly over 120,000 people in Europe, and, indirectly, an additional one million people. In 2018, 401,000 enterprises were active in wood-based industries across the EU – 20% of all manufacturing enterprises30. Forestry contributes directly to Europe’s rural economies.

The EU wood-based sector represents 3.5 million jobs, while the value-chain structure offers the possibility of a broader distribution of income and jobs across the territory – critical for the inclusive growth sought by the Green Deal31.

These jobs benefit urban areas, but particularly favour rural development32.

For instance, coopera- tives in agriculture and forestry sector are becom- ing a driving force in deploying the bioeconomy, effectively integrating primary producers and revitalising rural areas. In 2018, the primary biomass production sectors in the EU with over 10 million jobs provided 54% of the total employment in the Bioeconomy, mainly in the agricultural sector which alone accounts for 50%33. 83% of BBI JU-funded projects resulted in the creation of skilled jobs, of which 53% are created in rural regions (forestry and agricultural) and 15% in coastal areas.


  • 25.European Commission, Directorate-General for Research and Innovation, European bioeconomy policy: stocktaking and future developments: report from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Commit- tee and the Committee of the Regions, 2022.
  • 26.This represents a 25% increase since 2008. EU Bioeconomy in figures 2008-2018.
  • 27.European Commission website, Knowledge Center for Bioeconomy.
  • 28.Each biotechnology sector – healthcare, industrial, and agriculture – has different employment spill-over multipliers – respectively 3, 4.2, and 0.6. WifOR Institute, Measuring the economic footprint of biotechnology in Europe, Research Report, 2020.
  • 29.WifOR Institute, Measuring the economic footprint of biotechnology in Europe, Research Report, 2020.
  • 30.EFI, How does forest management and the use of wood contribute to economic prosperity and employment?
  • 31.EU forest-based industries generate a production value of €460 billion and provide nearly 3.5. million jobs (European Commission website, Forest-based industries).
  • 32.Based on the latest data collected from the BBI JU Flagship Projects in October 2021, flagship biorefineries producing materials and ingredients from locally sourced biomass plan to create about 20,000 direct and indirect jobs in rural and coastal areas (CBE-JU, Strategic Research and innovation Agenda, 2022.
  • 33.EU Bioeconomy in figures 2008-2018.