"BIO Centre: Bioindustries, Biorefineries, and Bioproducts" project consists in the creation of a new technological facility coming from an internationally emergent area: Biorefineries, Bioindustries and Bioproducts. It is an unique infrastructure for the development of "Smart Economy and Regions" and Circular Economy.

A new technological area for Portugal with potential for implementation, since lignocellulosic resources and hydrocarbons are widely available and can be transformed in new valuable products, thus promoting the development of new industries and companies in this area.

BIO Centre project was implemented in Oliveira do Hospital, through the requalification of an old abandoned facility, with a total area of 3.8 ha. The requalification process consisted on the remodelling/conservation of six buildings, outdoor areas arrangement and the acquisition of equipment to design new spaces with the most advanced technology in the world.

The main purpose of this project was to recover the abandoned facilities and transform it into several infrastructural units, functionally different but all essential for management, operation and promotion of the overall infrastructure in terms of research, support to the economic fabric and idea/project development (pre-incubation/incubation and enterprise acceleration).

This project was co-funded by NSRF in the "Mais Centro" Programme through the European Regional Development Fund, in a total of 2,685,150.00 €.

BioREFINA-TER is a multidisciplinary project of R&D designed to apply advanced technologies, within a network, to the conversion of wastes from forest exploration and farming, and also from land which does not have any farming potential, to 2nd generation biofuels intended to replace fossil fuels.

The present project has managed to bring together an international knowledge network of 55 R&D organizations from 9 European countries. It started in 2011 with a Portuguese State fund, through IFAP, of 0.5 million euros. The first stage, allowed progression of the scientific and technical knowledge regarding the conversion of heathland biomass and forest residues to 2nd generation advanced biofuels (direct replacements for gasoline and diesel).

The BioREFINA-TER project aims the construction of an industrial demonstration biorefinery unit, with a capacity of 25 million litters per year of 2nd generation biofuels, which do not compete with the food sector or the wood processing industry. The pilot territory will cover the cities of Arganil, Góis, Oliveira do Hospital and Tábua. It represents an investment of 125 million euros in 4 municipalities and the pilot unit will be used for replication throughout Portugal. Also aims to create the first internationally country with full energy autonomy, meaning that the natural resources existent are enough to generate energy for the current economic activity consumption.

This innovation project, which aims to rejuvenate and revitalize the socio-economic fabric of the region, has already been considered by the Portuguese State as a project of national interest and currently is the largest Portuguese ongoing project in the area of biorefineries/biodindustries. It is considered an alternative to the fight of large-scale forest fires and the mitigation of the environmental, economic and social impacts caused by this paradigm.

According to a recent survey made by BLC3, forest fires may represent a national economic loss of 800 million to 1 billion euros. Also, an annual saving of 4.500 to 6.000 million euros in petroleum import will allow Portugal to tackle two of the major problems currently facing - forest fires and petroleum dependency.

EU 2020 Strategy, announced in 2010, includes Bioeconomy as an important component with three major strategic priorities:

  • Smart growth: developing an economy based on knowledge and innovation;
  • Sustainable growth: promoting a more efficient, greener and more competitive economy; and
  • Inclusive growth: fostering a high-employment economy delivering social and territorial cohesion.

Bioeconomy refers to the sustainable production and transformation of organic natural resources in a variety of bioproducts, food, biomolecules, other industrial products and energy. Includes all industries, sectors, management operations and any other way to use natural resources, including organic wastes.

Modern Bioeconomy is based on knowledge and innovation from life sciences and other technologies such as engineering, chemistry, computer science and nanotechnology. The development of bioeconomy allows the territory "re-industrialization" through its own resources and the primary sector revitalization.

At the enterprise-level, the Inner Region economic fabric needs technical and structural support, and also the introduction of innovative ideas, new technologies for resources transformation and valorisation: "value the Land". It also requires the settlement of young critical mass to counterattack the increasing desertification. The "Bioeconomy and Smart regions" project has been developed within these concepts, being nowadays working towards the development of "Bioeconomy and Smart Regions" in territories with specific economic development needs, low population density and in menace.

Lab-i-DUCA is an R&D project that appear as a response to the "Agenda 21 Escolar" and follows the UE strategy for the promotion of smart growth. This project is being developed by BLC3 Association in consortium with the schools from the region "Beira Serra", since 2012.

BLC3, in association with several national and international institutions, has been developing work strategies and taking great efforts in the educational field for a sustainable juvenile development, in which this project is integrated, having the support of "CiênciaViva" to carry out to scientific literacy activities promotion for a year.

Thus, this project aims to promote/contribute to a sustainable development in its main areas (Economic, Social and Environmental), advocating: (1) the promotion of self-worth by stimulating physical/mental skills and well-being, as well as the stimulation and personal development of students, taking into account the local values; (2) the economic valorisation of endogenous resources, through human capital qualification; (3) promotion of an entrepreneurial and innovative spirit in young people, by encouraging creativity and other mechanisms; (4) the utilisation of information technologies and informatics in order to monitor/track the development of the aforementioned skills and assist in the development of tools and methods to evaluate them and stimulate the students.

Cheese factories effluents are a problem and an existing obstacle concerning all direct and indirect economic agents. The difficulties in treating and minimizing the environmental impacts of these effluents and, on the other hand, the significant importance of this activity for the region and the primary sector, are major reasons that makes these effluents a real issue.

After two years of extensive research performed by BLC3 staff, the project concerning the alternative use and valorisation of cheese factory effluents is currently in patent process. The environmental impact reduction and the production of new products will valorise the region. Besides, an improvement in the quality of life, in water and soil resources of the affected population will be a reality.

BLC3 managed to gather cheese producers from Oliveira do Hospital. The characterization performed to this sector allowed to conclude that the effluents volume from cheese factories in the region is high, approximately 18 million litters per year. At this stage, several cities and entities showed interest in these project developed by BLC3, being that Oliveira do Hospital is highlighted, for having supported and encouraged this project from the beginning.

This project results from the Young Farmers Club, created by the Centre for Technology and Innovation. Currently, it represents an investment of around 1.7 million euros and a cultivated area of approximately 60 ha of apples and S. Bartolomeu pears. This is the first professional structure of young farmers created in the region of Arganil, Oliveira do Hospital, Tábua and Seia.

Dried fruits have been highly valued in international markets as the search for this type of food has grown bigger and bigger worldwide. Following this trend, Fruit ECO-Drying Line project aims at innovating and valuing one of the richest fruits of the region: S. Bartolomeu pear, also known as Dried Pear, which almost disappeared from the market due to the lack of technological investment.

The R&TD project, co-financed by NSRF, with a global investment of € 603,623.10, foresees the creation of a pilot unit that automatically peels, dehydrates, presses and packs pears, in an entire circuit that extends from production to its entry in the marketing chain, in order to make this eco-efficient line a competitive process. Experiments performed in the pilot unit will later lead to the industrialization of this great regional wealth and to its reappearance in national and international markets. The main area of S. Bartolomeu pear production is located in the cities of Oliveira Hospital, Tábua, Seia, Viseu, Nelas, Gouveia, Mangualde and Santa Comba Dão.

The main goal of this R&TD project, financed by QREN/MaisCentro with a global investment of € 338,647.93 is the valorisation of a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) cheese, through applied research for the construction of a prototype to manufacture single units of this soft cheese.

This project has two partners besides BLC3, University of Minho and Paulo Rogério’s company. Serra da Estrela PDO cheese is considered one of the best in the world. Nevertheless, it is at risk of extinction given the existent large market indiscipline and the inability to value this product to the consumer. In order to enhance the value chain for both milk producers and cheese factories that produce this protected cheese delicacy from the milk of "Bordaleira Serra da Estrela" sheep's, the project will include the following stages: (a) Creation of an analytical "kit" that distinguishes the cheese made with milk from "Bordaleira Serra da Estrela" sheep from those who use milk from Spain or other geographical regions; (b) Elimination of mould, that hinders the cheese conservation after 35 to 40 days of maturation; (c) Slicing the product into individual doses to respond to new consumption patterns, packing it at the peak of its quality, using a packaging that keeps the slice texture and allows its conservation, without moulds.

Mushrooms have a key role in ecosystems. Changes in natural resources and habitats relating to land use, pollution, fires, invasive species and climate, have potential to influence the structure and composition of mushrooms communities. In this way, the value of diversity and the mushrooms characteristics in their natural habitat are critical research topics in order to address the health, productivity and sustainability of ecosystems. Therefore, it is critical to evaluate the significance of native mushrooms diversity at a local, national and international scale to increase the mushroom reserves in Europe. Similarly, mushrooms with high-added value have a major representation in the emerging support of Bioindustries (e.g. biotechnology, biomedicine, bioenergy), while providing an attractive economic return and services to the ecosystem. Some of the high-added value mushrooms species gain importance not only because of its value to ecosystem functions, but also for their organoleptic and nutritional properties or due to the presence of bioactive compounds. In addition, some mushroom establish a symbiotic relationship with plant roots, called mycorrhizae, recognized as critical mediators in biological and ecological processes, which include nutrient cycling, plant health, soil protection and control of roots biological diseases.

The Centre of Applied Mycology (CAM) mission is to provide basic applied research regarding the diversity and characteristics of value-added mushrooms functional reserves, focusing on the decline of biodiversity, environmental threats and socio-economic problems that Mediterranean forests face nowadays. Besides, it seeks to obtain opportunities for sustainable and innovative business initiatives and support for decision-making policies. The CAM | BLC3 seeks also a new national and international research platform in order to understand and improve the identity of value-added mushrooms reserves to restore and protect native biodiversity and ecosystem services, as well as to determine solutions of productive efficiency, thus ensuring environmental safety. The main objectives of CAM | BLC3 are: (1) report the diversity of value-added mushrooms in the natural territory throughout Europe; (2) develop biotechnological knowledge; (3) build the valorisation capacity of the characteristics and bio-diversity of native mushrooms species to support a sustainable planning management and industrial innovation; (4) build the capacity to support agroforestry and bioindustrial management at European level (e.g. products, production systems, and development of a set of quality and sustainability criteria indicators); (5) develop and promote networks of knowledge and awareness regarding the value of native biodiversity in Europe, in addition to actions related to conservation and sustainability.

Currently the CAM | BLC3 already cooperates with Portuguese, Spanish and Italian research centres.

The goal of this BLC3 biotech project is to explore the economic potential of valuables and co-products of forest ecosystems. The project has a partnership with the Centre for Functional Ecology of the University of Coimbra and Voz da Natureza - an incubated company and "spin-off" of BLC3, whose area of operation is scientific and technological research for the development of innovative products.

The project aims to develop in the central Inner Region of the country the production of native wild mushrooms and search the necessary conditions for truffles production. This project was co-financed by NSRF, with a global investment of € 465,554.18. The Value MicotecTruf contributes not only to the health of plant ecosystems, but also to the development of a high-added value economic activity.

The textile sector of Beira Serra region is an important employer and economic activity sector. Therefore, BLC3 is promoting a textile cluster for the valorisation of this sector, to develop new products and a connection with the Scientific and Technological System. This cluster consists of nine companies in the Central Region.

This union allows an increase in the capacity to generate added-value products with the existent production lines.

The S-MOBIL is an electric mobility project based on 5 cornerstones: "Smart", "Small", "Self", "Security" and "Sustainable". This project is in the pilot stage of development and the main objective it to create a new business model based in a low cost electric mobility, able to meet the challenges inherent to mobility systems.

The main aim of this project is to evaluate, demonstrate and disseminate the sustainable use of ash (from forest biomass residues combustion) combined with organic waste materials (sludge from the pulp and paper industry or compost) to regenerate degraded soils from mining areas in compliance with the EU "Thematic Strategy for Soil Protection". The project will reduce the impact of wastes from the pulp and paper industry on the environment while making better use of valuable resources according to the End-of-Waste criteria and contribute to mitigate greenhouse gases emission.
To show the potential of organic waste in combination with ash to regenerate soils the project will focus on in-situ application of soil amendments using a combination of two types of materials which present alkaline pH and high contents of Ca, Mg, Na, K and P (biomass ash) and high organic matter content (sludge or compost) on a pilot scale at three mining areas located at the Iberian Pyrite belt and to develop a decision support system for the sustainable management and large-scale use of biomass ash.

Coordinating Beneficiary: Universidade de Aveiro
Associated Beneficiares: Association BLC3 - Campus of Tecnology and Innovation, EDM - Empresa de Desenvolvimento Mineiro, S.A., Instituto Politécnico de Beja, Portucel, S.A. and RAIZ - Instituto de Investigação da Floresta e Papel