More than 130 BioSC members joined this year’s internal retreat, the fourth BioSC Forum, to learn about latest developments from BioSC projects and to network with other BioSC members. While the focus of the morning session was on projects financed in the frame of the NRW strategy project BioSC, the afternoon presentations included as well talks about externally funded projects of BioSC consortia and information about national and international funding programmes in the framework of bioeconomy.
In the first talk, new results from the project PhytaPhos were presented by Ana Alejandra Robles Aguilar (FZJ). The consortium achieved to develop thermally resistant enzymes which facilitate the extraction of phosphate from sugar beet residues. Subsequently, Katja Koschorreck (HHU) gave insights into the project BioDeg. The project partners successfully tested combinations of lignin- and cellulose-degrading enzyme sets for plant biomass degradation. In the course of the project BiFuProts, presented by Caspar Langenbach (RWTH), a fusion protein was developed, which attaches to the leaf surface and can protect the plant from diseases, e.g. Asian soybean rust, due to its antimicrobial properties. Subsequently the first poster session took place.
After the coffee break several projects were presented that cover besides experimental approaches as well theoretical or modelling approaches. Vera Jäger (HHU) presented a fast, simple and economic method for enzyme immobilization, which was developed within the CatIBs project. The project HiQFlux, which just started one year ago, succeeded to develop a metabolic model which can significantly increase the quality of flux estimations, presented by Birgitta Ebert (RWTH). Tobias Ploch (RWTH) demonstrated the implementation of a framework for multi-scale biorefinery process, which was developed in the frame project BeProMod.
After lunch break Vera Göhre (HHU) started with her presentation about the project PlaMint which aims to characterize the communication between plants, e.g. oil seed rape, and fungi, e.g. Verticillium longisporum and could already identify important plant factors and signals. As last BioSC project of the day, presented SPREAD was presented by Elena Pestsova(HHU). In field trials and in the greenhouse the project partners are currently analysing new Silphium variants with promising properties.
As one of two new programme items, the BioSC Forum this year as well included presentations about follow-up activities of BioSC members. Based on the results from BioSC projects, external funds were raised, e.g. on national level in the BMBF calls “Bioeconomy International” or “Tailor-made biobased ingredients for a competitive bioeconomy” and on a European level in the frame of an ERA-NET Industrial Biotechnology. Furthermore, several projects successfully submitted patent applications.
During the afternoon poster session, previously presented SEED and BOOST FUND projects as well as the new BioSC FocusLabs presented their approaches. The FocusLabs will have a significant function in terms of thematic profiling of the BioSC.
As a further new programme item representatives from external funding agencies were invited to introduce current funding opportunities in the frame of bioeconomy. Stefan Rauschen from the Nacional Contact Point Bioeconomy (NKS) fostered on the recently published Horizon2020 programme for the years 2018-20. Funding opportunities of the central coordinating agency in the area of renewable resources (Fachagentur für Nachwachsende Rohstoffe, FNR e.V.) was presented by Susanne Baars. During the subsequent get-together both representatives were available for further questions regarding the funding programmes.
Finally, the winners of the Supervision Award 2017/18 were honoured. This year, Dr. Ulrich Krauss (HHU) and Dr. Markus Schwarzländer (Bonn) received the 25.000 € prize for excellent supervision of master and PhD students.
As in the years before, the 4th BioSC Forum was very well visited and demonstrates the successful transition from the first BioSC funding period into the second one. Fruitful discussions during the talks and the poster sessions represented the huge interest of participants on bioeconomy topics.