Director, Industrial Biotechnology, EuropaBio
City of Brussels, Belgium
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IYC Interests:Increase the public appreciation and understanding of chemistry
Encourage interest of young people in chemistry
Generate enthusiasm for the creative future of chemistry
Celebrate the role of women in chemistry
Industrial biotechnology is an emerging and vibrant technology area entering its ‘growth’ stage. This technology is making an increasing impact in the chemical sector, enabling both the conversion of renewable resources, such as sugars or vegetable oils, and the more efficient conversion of conventional raw materials using biotechnological processes (including biocatalysis) into a wide variety of chemical substances, many of which cannot be made directly by synthetic routes.
These products include fine and bulk chemicals, pharmaceuticals, biocolorants, solvents, bioplastics, vitamins, food additives, biopesticides and liquid biofuels such as bioethanol and biodiesel.
In short, this technology is helping improve industrial sustainability by bringing environmental advantages and economic competitiveness - as well as creating new job opportunities.
But industrial biotechnology needs to be developed to overcome a number of challenges before its full potential can be realised.
These challenges include, securing access to sustainable renewable feedstock, supporting more targeted research and innovation, building bridges between research and market and stimulating market demand as well as better communication and education about biobased products and chemicals. At the same time, Europe is facing fierce competition in this area from the USA and Japan which have long term plans and significant R&D commitments in place.