Toulouse and Berlin, 29. October. The 11th EFIB attracted around 240 companies and stakeholders from 31 nations. EMBRIC joined the conference to speak about and highlight the potential of the blue biotechnology.
The 11th European Forum for Industrial Biotechnology & the Bioeconomy (EFIB) attracted around 240 companies and stakeholders from 31 nations. The participants came to Toulouse to discuss and demonstrate that innovative approaches to some of the most pressing challenges worldwide exist and can be technically implemented. For the first time in EFIB history, the event had a dedicated section on marine biotechnology. EMBRIC used this momentum to join the conference and to highlight the potential of the blue biotechnology. And the marine focus was not limited to the speakers’ sessions – two innovative marine start-ups presented their ideas at the start-up village of the event.
Lise Kingo, CEO of the United Nations Global Compact, started the opening session of EFIB highlighting one pressing challenge, namely that the world is currently heading for a future in which the “oceans will have more plastics than fish”, a scenario which should incentive “to stop making business as usual”. Responding to this, Wolfgang Burtscher, Deputy Director General, DG Research & Innovation from the European Commission underlined the potential of a sustainable circular bioeconomy including carbon neutral green technologies, closed-loop production and new protein sources. From an investor or company point of view one of the main obstacles to the much needed bio-based innovation remains the difficulty to get paid for a sustainable product, which usually has higher production costs than its established competitors.
In the marine biotechnology track, companies, investors and cluster projects such as EMBRIC continued to debate the most important “blue challenges” of the future. Among them: increasing societal acceptance for products from the sea, meeting customers’ expectations and optimizing the still young products. It was also demonstrated that marine resources build the basis for products in very different industrial markets, ranging from human care and cosmetics, animal and human nutrition, medical technology up to new marine-based colours for the textile industry or alternatives for pesticides in agriculture. Discussions during the track also highlighted the challenges for SMEs to enter into these markets, in particular with regard to new food ingredients that fall under the Novel Food Regulation.
For this reason, it was agreed that stakeholders in the marine biotechnology science and business area need platforms for exchange. Bernard Kloareg, director of the Roscoff Marine Station and project leader of EMBRIC counts on closer cooperation, he wants to “create an alliance between peripheral maritime regions” in which research infrastructures play a leading role in supporting the sustainable use of marine bioresources. And the ocean discussions were not confined to the marine session – its pollution and the careful use of its diverse resources triggered debates all over the different EFIB tracks.
Both the PitchFest and the newly introduced start-up village witnessed innovative, close to market industrial biotech solutions. Ingmar Høgøy, chairman of the start-up AlgaePro stated during his pitch: “Our vision is to be part of a new international industry within a circular bioeconomy”. AlgaePro produces microalgae using CO2 from oil refineries, nutrient from fish farms and energy from process water to create new sources for renewable food production and satisfy the rising global demand for marine oils and proteins. Hoekmine, another blue biotech SME which joined EFIB 2018 on the initiative of EMBRIC, focuses on biomimetics – the company copies structural colour from marine bacteria to translate into coloured materials. These new colours allow a higher intensity of colours, are free of dangerous solvents, use less energy and water and still outperform natural dyes. Colin Ingham, CEO of Hoekmine, participated at the start-up village and summarized after the event that “being a small company, participating at EFIB was an opportunity to network with business sectors that we normally do not reach”.
Not only is the blue biotechnology gaining grounds in the industrial biotech community, but it also plays an increasingly important role in the European bioeconomy debate. On October 22nd, the updated European bioeconomy strategy was presented in Brussels, including a focus on “Oceans and the Blue Bioeconomy”.
Scientific and technical manager of the EMBRIC project:
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Media contact EMBRIC:
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