A competence centre creates strong and innovative research where researchers from different disciplines collaborate with a network of companies. The research focuses on areas and issues that are both scientifically challenging and central to the companies. The competence centre BRC, which is in its third stage (2018–2022), is funded in equal parts by The Swedish Energy Agency, participating partners from business and society and academic partners Linköping University and SLU.
WSP has been tasked by BRC to evaluate the competence centre’s activities with a focus on the impact of the research and how different actors apply it in their organisations. The evaluation has been used to provide input to BRC’s application to the Energy Agency’s new call for a competence centre for a sustainable energy system, starting January 2022, and also as a basis for future development of the centre. The evaluation is based on interviews with members of BRC and external actors operating in the biogas field.
The evaluation´s main conclusions are the following: BRC has a key role as a distributor of knowledge and provides a system perspective within resource efficient biogas solutions that similar research environments lack. The centre also carries out an important consultative role to the political level. Above all, BRC provides an important platform for networking between players in the biogas value chain, which has resulted in new collaborations and a wider customer base for many members of the centre.
Suggestions for development of BRC´s operations involve making research results more easily accessible for non-research players such as small and medium sizes business. A stronger emphasis on the agricultural sector is requested, and BRC can further target public procurers on regional and municipal levels in order to increase the level of knowledge concerning biogas. BRC can also focus more on smaller challenge-driven projects, in parallel with more extensive research projects, something which would fit well in the competence centre model.