#BIOWC18 | Day 1 Wrap-Up

#BIOWC18 | Day 1 Wrap-Up

Programming for the 15th BIO World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology kicked off on Tuesday, July 17 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia.

BIO’s President and CEO Jim Greenwood provided welcoming remarks ahead of the lunch plenary session, highlighting the growth of the biobased economy and BIO’s commitment to fostering innovation in industrial biotechnology.

“I’ve been BIO CEO for more than 13 years, and it has been amazing to see World Congress grow into the biggest showcase of industrial biotech in the world,” said Greenwood.

And the showcase began early, as breakout sessions started at 8:30 a.m. and ran throughout the day.

Breakout Sessions

The breakout sessions gave a glimpse into the not-so-often talked about intersection of biotechnology and industrial and environment. From advancements in the food industry, including flavors and fragrances, algae and enzymes, to industrial biotechnology investments in South America, to biobased products and renewable chemicals, Tuesday’s breakout sessions covered a range of new innovations.

During the “Bio-Industrial Investment in South America” breakout session, panelists looked at the investment climate and national support for bio-industrial solutions in Uruguay. Hank Krakowski with Agrisoma described his company’s work with carinata in the region, an oilseed crop grown to produce renewable, sustainable source of oil, which can be refined into diesel and jet fuel, and a high protein meal for animal feed.

At the “Renewable Chemicals Making Headway into New Materials and Consumer Biobased Products” breakout session, panelists showcased their companies work in developing renewable chemicals that can then be used in partnerships with companies making biobased consumer products. David Sudolsky of Annellotech touched on his companies four guiding principles in partnering on the development of biobased products, including that the product must result in a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, be accessible to large, global markets, and must be reliable and cost effective.

In the “Emergence & Commercialization of Next Generation Ingredients in F&F and other Markets” breakout session, representatives from biotech companies Amyris, Conagen Inc., DEINOVE and Evolva described how biotechnologies such as synthetic biology, advanced fermentation and bioconversion technologies are used by their companies in the development of unique products such as natural sweeteners, cosmetics and skin care – even pest control. And in each of the case studies, speakers emphasized the need to address consumers’ increasing demand for products that are natural and sustainably produced.

To provide for a growing population, “we will need 2.3 planet earths by 2050,” explained Kathy Oglesby of Amyris, which provides more than 2,000 brand products to 250 million consumers every day. “But we only have one planet Earth – biotechnology offers the solution.”

From flavors and fragrances, breakout sessions continued to focus on the trends in production of consumer products, including algae and enzymes for food.

In the “Advancements in Industrial Production of Food Enzymes and Ingredients from New Microbial Platforms” session, panelists examined the bio-processes involved in the manufacturing of novel food ingredients and flavorings.

Henrik Busch-Larsen, CEO of Danish biotechnology company Unibio, explained the conversion of methane and natural gas into protein-based feed additives for livestock. “We’re turning fuel into food, rather than food into fuel,” Busch-Larsen says.

Unibio’s Uniprotein® is produced in an eco-friendly way and is part of the company’s mission to supply the world with innovative, sustainable solutions to overcome the food challenge faced by a growing global population. Watch this video to learn more!

Matt Carr with the Algae Biomass Organization opened the “Algae: A Top Food Trend Today, Potential for Food Security for Tomorrow?” breakout session saying about the intersection of algae and food: “We’ll tell the story to anyone that will listen.” Carr and other panelists went on to highlight the various opportunities for algae in food production, a new trend for the plant that was previously only thought of to advance agriculture and fuel production.

Panelist Jill Kaufman Johnson with Corbion expanded, noting the increasing demand for plant-based protein and the role algae can have. Her lab developed an algae-based goldfish snack that resulted in 30 percent less sodium, 35% less flour and, because of the cell wall that encapsulates the protein, it prevents the cracker from becoming soggy and preserves its “crispiness”.

GreenTech Investor Sessions

Also taking place Tuesday at the BIO World Congress, were GreenTech Investor Sessions, where early stage industrial biotechnology companies had the opportunity to present in front of potential investors and strategists. Included in the GreenTech Investor Sessions were panel discussions in which expert investors and strategists discussed the opportunities and challenges of investing in the industry.

In summarizing the current investment climate, BIO Industrial and Environmental Board Member, and panel moderator, Roger Wyse with Spruce Capital Partners alluded to the challenges the industry has faced as promising technologies have come and gone: “The industry has been through a lot of trauma.”

Underlining previous challenges, Ganesh Kishore, also with Spruce Capital Partners, highlighted the desire of investors to fund companies that make products that are “adaptable” to ensure commercial success.

CRISPR and Gene Editing Tools to Advance Industrial Biotechnology Plenary

Roger Wyse also moderated the lunch plenary on “CRISPR and Gene Editing Tools to Advance Industrial Biotechnology,” featuring a collection of experts and company representatives discussing the future of gene editing technologies.

Most notably, panelists emphasized the need for customer acceptance to allow gene editing to continue progressing and continue to strengthen the biobased economy.

“It’s not rocket science, it’s social science,” said J.J. Jones of Roots & Legacies Consulting during the plenary panel discussion. “Don’t ask ‘what can we do?’ Ask ‘what should we do?”.

Panelist and SR Strategy’s President Sylvia Rowe added that transparency is key. “Transparency is the gateway to trust,” she said. “We’re talking about building a foundation of trust. I think there is a real opportunity to proactively take control of the dialogue.”

Company and Technical Presentations

And not to be missed in the flurry of breakout sessions, investor panels and plenary lunches were company and technical presentations. Several companies presented during Tuesday’s schedule, including Hideyuki Tsukii from Advanced Biochemical Co. in Thailand.

Tsukii presented on his company’s 100 percent bio-based epichlorohydrin (EPI), which when combined with a bio-based BPA will lead to bio-based epoxy resins. During his presentation, Tuskii outlined the benefits of bio-based EPI which is the most sustainable EPI in terms of CO2 emissions and process environmental performance, and enables downstream industries to reduce its carbon footprint, while increasing the bio-content of finished products.

Read more about Thailand’s presence at the 2018 BIO World Congress here.

With day one in the books, attendees can look forward to even more programming on Wednesday, July 18, with sessions focused on biobased materials, biofuels and the announcement of the 2018 George Washington Carver and Rosalind Franklin Award recipients.

For those attending the 2018 BIO World Congress in Philadelphia, be sure to be on the lookout for the Iowa Biotechnology Association booth next to registration, where you can learn more about the 2019 BIO World Congress in Iowa. We look forward to seeing you in Des Moines!

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