BIO Celebrates Day One of its 2013 Pacific Rim Summit

On Monday, December 09, 2013, BIO kicked off its Pacific Rim Summit on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy with five track sessions showcasing the latest innovative technologies in feedstocks, renewable chemical platforms, advanced biofuels and synthetic biology and algae and marine biotechnology.  Monday’s sessions of note included Optimizing Algae Production for Beneficial Bioproducts, Production of Drop-In Hydrocarbon Fuels from Cellulosic Biomass, and Renewable Chemicals and Consumer Products.   

Moderated by Jim Flatt of Synthetic Genomics, Optimizing Algae Production for Beneficial Bioproducts, panelists touched on modern tools and technologies used to enhance and manipulate algae in order to get the most out of it for the production of bioproducts.  Panelists included Valerie Harmon of Cellana, Jose Sanchez of OriginOil, and Brian Gooddall of Valicor Renewables.  Jim Flatt provided a brief preview of Tuesday’s Plenary Lunch where CEO of Synthetic Genomics, J. Craig Venter, will provide his keynote.  By discussing how algae is a key feedstock, especially in areas where conventional crops, such as corn and soybeans are scarce, Jim set the stage on how algae is an essential next generation platform for biofuels and bioproducts.  Cellana highlighted how its open as well as closed pond systems allow for a successful biorefinery business model.  OriginOil showcased its EWS algae harvesting solution which dewaters algae more efficiently, preventing the crashing of pond solutions.  Lastly, Valicor Renewables discussed how it strives to create more cost efficient products that do not follow a one-size-fits-all model.

BIO was fortunate to have the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) moderate its sessions titled Production of Drop-In Hydrocarbon Fuels from Cellulosic Biomass.  Additional panelists included Jesse Q. Bond, Syracuse University, Charles Cai, University of California Riverside and Brittany Syz of Oberon Fuels.  The NREL provided the attendees with a wonderful discussion on the pros and cons of various cellulosic biomass used in the production of drop-in fuels.  Focusing on gasification, lipids, sugar or soluble carbon and bio-oil intermediate, Tom provided a great transitioned into the university perspective on the use of cellulosic biomass.  “Lignocellulosic biomass is the best renewable fuel replacement for fossil fuels,” argued Charles Cai of the University of California Riverside.  Specifically, he concentrated on using an aqueous platform to convert biomass into drop-in fuel while stressing the importance of focusing on Furfaral by overcoming the barriers it creates as an unstable fraction.  Oberon Fuels opened by discussing its full grade di-mythl ether (DME) from domestic feedstock technology.  This technology allows Oberon to use food scraps and feed waste, which have high energy content, and turn them into a usable products.  Tools such as Oberon’s DME can allow companies to start at a small scale but still continue to grow with the market.

Representative Scott Peters (D-52) provided opening for BIO’s lunch plenary titled, Building a Successful Chemicals Business Across the Pacific Rim.  Moderated by Roger Wyse, Managing Director, Burrill & Company, panelists included Christophe Schilling, CEO, Genomatica, Bas Melssen, Executive Vice President, Strategic Innovation Projects of Malaysia Innovation Agency, Dan Simon, President & CEO of Heliae and Ajarin Pattanapanchai, Senior Executive Investment Officer of Thai Board of Investment.

Welcoming Remarks by The Honorable Scott Peters

“Good afternoon, and welcome to San Diego, home to the second or third largest life science cluster in the country. These companies and research institutions make up about a third of San Diego’s regional economy and, together, generate almost 220,000 thousand jobs.

“These numbers will only get bigger and more significant in the years ahead. That’s because San Diego’s future economic growth will be driven by our ideas and our innovation economy. The life sciences are a substantial part of it…..

“These San Diego companies are creating cleaner, better, renewable chemicals, products and fuels that will help protect and improve our natural environment today and in the future.

“To name a few:

“Genomatica has partnered with some of the largest companies in the world to produce widely used chemicals from renewable feedstocks instead of petroleum — reducing costs and their carbon footprints.

“DSM has found a way to use enzymes to increase capacity and quality in food and beverage production.

“Verenium is creating a way to use eco-sensitive enzymes to break down waste — at landfills for example – instead of using harsh chemical processes.

“And at the brand new Venter Institute, Dr. Craig Venter, who most of us know as a pioneer of the human genome, is also doing some trailblazing in synthetic genomics. He is a working on a way to use micro organisms to produce renewable hydrogen fuel.  I understand Dr. Venter is speaking here tomorrow, and I know that will be a highlight.

“And finally, I’d call out the California Center for Algae Biotechnology which opened at UCSD earlier this year….

“The upshot of all this great work: last year, San Diego’s Industrial Biotech and Biofuels industry generated more than $2.6 billion in regional economic impact…..

“As a member of the House Armed Services committee, I know how important it is for our military to have a diverse and reliable energy supply. The Navy and the Marines are investing heavily in doing that.  The advancements in algae biotechnology, and other renewables should be a bigger part of America’s energy portfolio in the years to come — not just because they keep our air and water cleaner, but also because as a nation, we must continue to move toward more energy independence, security and affordability.

“I recently re-started the Congressional Algae Caucus and serve as co-chair. And, earlier this year, with the support of BIO and BIOCOM, I introduced the Renewable Chemicals Parity Act of 2013, which would treat renewable chemicals, biorefinery projects and other biobased programs more equally in the Farm Bill’s energy title.

“I’m also supporting industrial biotech — algae, renewable chemicals, and R&D funding in particular….

“I want to thank BIOCOM and the Biotechnology Industry Organization for helping me learn a lot this, my first year in Congress, and for inviting me to speak to you today.  I look forward to our continued partnership.”

BIO Pac Rim rounded off its first day with a session on gases as feedstock, renewable chemicals and consumer products, financial barriers to construct biorefineries, advancements in Biohydrogen production as well as a session on metabolic engineering of aquatic photosynthetic organisms.  Renewable Chemicals and Consumer Products garnered the most interest from BIO attendees.  With a packed room in front of them, panelists Max Senechal, Metabolix, Emmanuel Petiot, Deinove SA, Jeff Uhrig, Bioformix and John Bissell, Micromidas discussed the challenges of bringing industrial biotech products to the consumers.  What made this session stand out to attendees is that it showcased an area not always in the industrial biotech spotlight – marketing.  Panelists deliberated on the difficulties of bringing industrial biotech to the consumers and the marketing techniques companies utilized to get their products out.  “When consumers have an issue, we want our product to be unique in that they will know BioFormix has the solution,” stated Jeff Ultrig of Bioformix.  “Our unique approach to green energy, allows for a reduction in energy consumption, improved product performance and radically increasing production speeds.”  Overall, the panelists agreed that this industry requires unique marketing strategies tailored to a unique set of consumers that bring greater awareness to these one-of-a-kind products.

This year’s Pacific Rim Summit on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy is taking place from December 8-11, 2013 at the Westin Gaslamp Hotel located in San Diego, California.  It is being co-organized with biocom.

The Pacific Rim Summit is the original conference dedicated solely to the growth of the industrial biotechnology and bioenergy sectors in North America and the Asia-Pacific region. Industrial biotech covers the application of biobased tools to traditional industrial processes and the manufacturing  of biobased products including fuels, chemicals and plastics from renewable feedstocks. The evolution of our ability to manipulate microbial genomes has revolutionized the field of biotechnology and produced a rapid increase in innovation for industrial uses.

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