The agricultural sector is increasingly becoming multifunctional. It is the entry point of several value chains. Agricultural raw materials are increasingly being used for multiple industries or sectors beyond the traditional fiber and nutrition industries—energy in the form of ethanol and biodiesel, industrial products such as polymers and bio-based synthetic chemicals and fibers, and pharmaceutical/health products such as functional foods, growth hormones and organ transplants. The lynch-pin to the development of these new end-uses for agricultural raw materials is the improved scientific base for understanding plant and animal product growth and processing. Genetic manipulation, enzyme development and biotechnology combined with traditional biological, chemical and engineering advances have resulted in innovations that are disruptive. A combination of the new science of biotechnology, the new potential end uses of the products of that science and the broadened social/public goals that these products can respond to surfaces at least three fundamental challenges or dilemmas: (1) the competing goals dilemma, (2) the incumbent vs. new entrant competition dilemma and (3) the industry boundaries dilemma. The purpose of this paper is to review the innovation and adoption research related to renewables and the bioeconomy, and then frame the three dilemmas with the objective of identifying some of the important research questions in this area and the conceptual frameworks that might be useful to analyze these issues.
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