Brazil Joins Programming at 2014 BIO World Congress – Part I

Workshop Overview 

Known for their investment and R&D in cellulosic sugars, Brazil is leading the way in modern innovations in industrial biotech. The World Congress was held May 12-15, 2014, at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia.

BIO World Congress held its Workshops on Wednesday, May 14, 2014 which included unique programming on industrial biotech in Brazil. 

This year’s Workshop on Brazil was titled “Not a “One Note Samba”: The Future of Brazil – US Collaborations, Tech Transfer, and IP

Highlighting the Amyris Brazil-U.S. model, the workshop discussed collaborations between the U.S. and Brazil and showcased various licensing and IP opportunities and challenges for such international collaborations.

Moderated by Gustavo de Freitas Morais, Dannemann, Siemsen, Bigler & Ipanema Moreira, the panel included Joel Velasco, Senior Vice President, Amyris; Dr. Larry P. Walker, Professor in the Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering at Cornell University; Manuel Teixeira Souza Júnior, Director-General, Agroenergy Nacional Research Center (EMBRAPA Agroenergia); and Mariana Doria, Manager Technology & Innovation, Abiquim.

Mariana Doria opened up her remarks by commenting that Brazil is the 6th largest chemical industry in the world economy with 60% of its workforce having a higher education degree. Over the past 30 years, Brazil has consolidated its capacity to generate scientific knowledge according to Doria. From 2008-2010, 58% of Latin American scientific studies were Brazilian. Abiquim brings competitive feedstock prices, great biomass productions and fast track patent applications, all helping to make Brazil a leader in this industry.

EMBRAPA Agroenergia is Brazil’s top research center for Agroenergy, argued Manuel. Each of its four labs focus on one key area – 1. Genetics & Biotechnology; 2. Biochemical Processing; 3. Chemical Processing; and Chemical & Industrial Processing. He noted that the EMBRAPA works under the biorefinery concept focusing on bioenergy, chemicals, and polymers. Manuel concluded that the key to a successful industrial biotech industry is international action via partnership.

Dr. Larry Walker opened by arguing that innovation is more than just science. It’s opportunities with challenges. The bioeconomy should be characterized as global science without borders and Brazil being prime example of this. He commented on how great it is to see the bioenergy sector evolving so rapidly around the world especially in Brazil. Walker stressed that positive competition is important in driving innovation. He concluded by arguing that Universities should be part of this positive competition and that patents & licensing is one aspect of how they can engage in it.

“We understand how to do business in Brazil!” – Joel Velasco, SVP, Amyris. Amyris is a synthetic biology company that relies on sugarcane, which is abundant in Brazil. Issued 135 patents, Amyris’ technology involves designing microbes, primarily yeast, and then using them as living factories in a fermentation processes to convert plant-sourced sugars into target molecules. Velasco commented on how his company’s technology and strain development pipeline are meeting such high demand markets as biodiesel, jet fuel and synthetic rubber. Lastly, Joel argued on the stringent and strict Brazilian regulatory approval process that his products must meet in order to go commercial.

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