On November 12th, the fifth internal retreat for BioSC members took place in the Gustav Stresemann Institute in Bonn. All ongoing projects from phase 2 of the NRW BioSC Strategy Project were presented. In addition, four core groups presented successful bioeconomy activities outside the NRW Strategy Project. Dr. Anita Loeschcke (HHU Düsseldorf) received the 2018 BioSC Supervision Award.
As first speaker, Dr. Holger Klose (Forschungszentrum Jülich) gave an overview of the current status of work in the AP3 FocusLab, which establishes and economically validates an integrated biorefinery concept for sustainable implementation of biomass made from perennial plants using OrganoCat technology. Nina Ihling (RWTH Aachen University) then presented the current status of work in the Bio2 FocusLab, which is developing a competitive biorefinery process for the production of next generation biosurfactants made from residual flows from food industry. This was followed by short lectures on projects recently started in the framework of the first SEED FUND 2.0 OPEN calls. Dr. Vera Göhre (HHU Düsseldorf) presented the iBioMass Project, which is investigating pest resistance of new biomass plants using corn mutants with altered lignocellulose composition by way of example. Dr. Ulrich Krauss (HHU Düsseldorf) presented the HySyn Project, which is investigating the representatives of a recently discovered class of alkane/alkene-syntheszised photoenzymes by testing properties relevant to biotechnology. Kevin Herrmann (RWTH Aachen University) presented the QuantiP Project, in whose framework a sensitive methodology is being developed to quantify phosphate in storage molecules in algae, yeasts and plant material.
After the coffee break, Dr. Felix Jakob (RWTH Aachen University) and Dr. Michael Wustmans (University of Bonn) provided information on current work and results from the greenRelease FocusLab, which is developing a new platform technology. The aim is to reduce herbicide and fungicide usage by applying these substances to plants in the form of microgel particles and releasing them in a controlled manner over a longer period. Dr. Stephan Noack (Forschungszentrum Jülich) and Prof. Dr. Dörte Rother (RWTH Aachen University) gave an overview of the current status in the HyImPAct FocusLab. A hybrid process consisting of microbial transformations, enzymatic reactions and chemical synthesis steps is being developed that will allow the production of different chemical substances on the basis of lignocellulose-containing biomass. This was followed by short presentations on the two new projects in the framework of the first SEED FUND 2.0 LINK calls. Prof. Dr. Martina Pohl (Forschungszentrum Jülich) presented the XyloSenS Project. This project is linked to the HyImPAct and AP3 FocusLabs in content and its objective is to develop biosensors that allow the online detection of xylose as alternative carbon source in small cultivation systems. Prof. Dr. Sonja Herres-Pawlis (RWTH Aachen University) presented the R2HPBio Project, which is linked to the HyImPACT and greenRelease FocusLabs. Its aim is to produce biodegradable polymers from platform chemicals made of renewable resources.
After a lunch break, Dr. Anita Loeschcke and Dr. Kerstin Schippper (HHU Düsseldorf) presented current developments in the CombiCom FocusLab; their goal is to use synthetic biology to allow sustainable production of new, valuable natural substances, evaluate their effectiveness, for example in crop protection, investigate the acceptance among the population and develop strategies for market introduction.
Following the presentation of all ongoing projects from phase 2 of the NRW Strategy Project BioSC, four BioSC core groups presented successful bioeconomy projects outside of the NRW Strategy Project. Dr. Alexandra Wormit (RWTH Aachen University) presented the BMBF projectTaReCa, a follow-up to the InducTomE BioSC Project, which is evaluating the potential of residual biomass from paprika production as resource for high-quality bioactive natural substances. Dr. Sylvia Schleker (University of Bonn) presented the BMBF project NemaContAnt, a follow-up to the NovoSurf BioSC Project, which is evaluating the usage of tailor-made bio-based rhamnolipids to control plant parasitic nematodes. Prof. Dr. Henner Hollert (RWTH Aachen University) presented the research area green toxicology and explained the diverse connection possibilities to bioeconomy research, especially with regard to the environmental impact assessment for new bio-based products and processes. Prof. Dr. Ralf Pude (University of Bonn) presented the EFRE-FIS Project “Competence Center Bio-based Products”, the aim of which is to develop bio-based materials, such as building materials and packaging, in collaboration with companies located in North Rhine-Westphalia. The project is in part based on the results of the BioSC projects SPREAD and MisQual.
At the end of the forum, Dr. Anita Loeschcke from the Institute for Molecular Enzyme Technology of the HHU Düsseldorf was presented with the 2018 BioSC Supervision Award. With this prize, the BioSC honors young scientists for excellent achievements in the mentoring of doctoral students. It is endowed with 25,000 € and is awarded within the framework of the NRW Strategy Project BioSC. Dr. Loeschcke was nominated by three of her doctoral students and the nomination was supported by various letters of recommendation from former doctoral students. The jury voted for her due to the outstanding engagement and her commitment in the interdisciplinary education of her doctoral students.
This year`s BioSC Forum was once again well attended by close to 130 participants. Engaged discussions in the plenary hall and in the breaks demonstrated continuous interest by the members in bioeconomy topics and development of the BioSC. The next BioSC Forum will take place in combination with the 4th International BioSC Symposium on 18th & 19th November, 2019 in Cologne.