People and the Bioeconomy – Missing the Levers and Pulleys

At the NNFCC we do not believe in coincidence, but sometimes they are difficult to explain...

At NNFCC we take pride in our ability to interpret and articulate the twists and turns of the emerging bioeconomy, understanding the impact of innovation and how policies changes affect market development.

As a rule, we don’t believe in coincidences; we work to understand cause and effect, often looking for potential unintended consequences in new bioeconomy policies. As the American science-fiction writer Emma Bull says, “Coincidence is the word we use when we can’t see the levers and pulleys”.

When it comes to NNFCC staff and business partners, it appears there are a few unexpected levers and pulleys at work!

We recently completed a recruitment round and were able to add two talented scientists to the NNFCC team. Recent York graduate Robert (Bob) Horton joins us as a research analyst and Lucy Montgomery joins the team as a consultant after working most recently at the Austrian Centre for Industrial Biotechnology (acib GmbH).

Lucy will join the NNFCC team working to support bioeconomy innovation in SMEs through an Interreg North West Europe project called BioBase4SME. BioBase4SME provides a range of professional services such as market analysis, life cycle analysis and technology scale up to SMEs from North West Europe developing bio-based products.

We noticed a coincidence. We have another Lucie (Dr Lucie Pfaltzgraff) on the project and, unbeknown to NNFCC, Lucy and Lucie were both at school together. Although they didn’t know each other at school, they were both educated at the European School of Luxembourg (ESL), a small school in a small country!

Surprisingly, the coincidences didn’t stop there. The BioBase4SME project is supplied by several partners from across North West Europe, including the Belgium materials research centre, Materia Nova. In the project, Materia Nova offer their expertise and knowledge in life-cycle assessment allowing SME to better understand the sustainability profile of their bio-based products. At Materia Nova the project is coordinated by Guillaume Wegria, also alumni of the ESL.

Finally, to round off our micro network of ESL alumni working to enhance Europe’s bioeconomy, we have Barbara Mendes-Jorge, a contemporary of Lucie Pfaltzgraff, now working at Brussels-based Sustainability Consult. As a leading bioeconomy communications agency and outspoken advocates for the responsible development of emerging technologies and start-ups, Sustainability Consult play an important role in bioeconomy development. In partnership with Sustainability Consult, NNFCC can offer tailored packages around business development, market studies and translating science for business.

Although we’re unable to explain the levers and pulleys behind this coincidence, we’re delighted that the promise and opportunities of the bioeconomy are attracting talented people to the area. Possibly the school’s strong focus on international cooperation, an item crucial in the success of the bioeconomy, provides a partial explanation?


NNFCC, press release, 2017-02-03.


Austrian Centre of Industrial Biotechnology (ACIB)
Materia Nova
Sustainability Consult