The 6th NRW Doctoral Students' Day on 28 September 2021 on the topic of "Future Bioeconomy" took place again this year exclusively as a virtual event due to Corona. With this year's topic "Future Food - sustainable and efficient production", the excellent presentations by the invited speakers in the morning were able to impressively convey to the doctoral students how far-reaching the relevance of the topic "bioeconomy in the food industry" is for science and business.
This year's greeting notes came from Prof. Dr. Frauke Melchior (Member of the Board of Directors of Forschungszentrum Jülich) and Dr. Sonja Brandt (Ministry of Culture and Science NRW), who addressed the doctoral students very directly and clearly pointed out the potential of the bioeconomy as a future employer, but also the importance of networks and the use of diverse, existing opportunities for professional development. The subsequent first lecture by Dr. Ananya Manna (European Circular Bioeconomy Fund) gave an excellent overview of the highly active Start-Up landscape and the large number of young and innovative companies in the field of the bioeconomy in Europe, as well as showing the very different development directions in which the bioeconomy can be evolved, also and especially in the food sector. A special focus was on the possibilities of significantly reducing the CO2 footprint in food production. A topic that was also addressed in the presentations by Dr Katarzyna Wolińska-Griese (Infarm) and Dr Britta Winterberg (Formo), but from completely different perspectives. Infarm produces the vegetables more or less directly in the supermarket and thus eliminates many intermediate steps, especially in logistics, such as harvesting, packaging and transport. Formo, on the other hand, uses bacteria to produce milk that contains almost all the classic components of cow's milk, so that dairy products such as cheese etc. can also be made from it without any problems. But this is done without the very high CO2 emissions associated with dairy farming. The other two presentations of the morning, on the other hand, focused on individual ingredients. Sören Schilasky from Pfeifer & Langen was able to impressively demonstrate that even such a large family-owned company in the region, which is otherwise mainly associated with beet sugar products, is thinking and developing completely new approaches in the direction of "new sugars". In addition, Sören Schilasky, just like all the other speakers, also described his own professional career path, which in his case was always regionally oriented, but with a wide range of content and taking advantage of the very good opportunities in the context of bioeconomics, especially in the region. His appeal to the doctoral students was clear: look beyond your own nose and have the confidence to take the initiative and apply to the companies that are of interest to you. Dr. Peter van der Schaft (Axxence Aromatic GmbH) gave the second lecture, which focused on ingredients, and very clearly demonstrated that the biobased production of aromas can have very different bases, ranging from bacterial conversions to classic substrate conversions through plant enzymes and the extraction of aromas directly from plants.
The afternoon was then devoted to discussion and networking. The PhD students, the speakers of the morning and the coordinators of the organising organisations and graduate schools had an extensive opportunity to discuss relevant issues of the bioeconomy, personal professional development and the skills needed in the bioeconomy. Thus, this year we were once again able to achieve the goal of the NRW Doctoral Students' Day to bring together young doctoral researchers from different scientific fields and locations in NRW and to provide them with a framework for networking and discussion about future developments and career paths in the bioeconomy.