On 18 and 19 November 2019 the 4th International BioSC Symposium took place in Cologne with about 180 participants. The speakers` contributions covered a broad spectrum from research to product development and market launch and reflected very different expertise and points of view. In addition to the presentations, 49 posters, three of which received awards, were points of contact for intensive scientific discussions. The conference has once again demonstrated the need for an integrated approach to bioeconomy and provided a platform for interdisciplinary exchange and future cooperation.
After the welcome address by the speaker of the BioSC, Ulrich Schurr (IBG-2, Forschungszentrum Jülich) the programme started with a keynote lecture by Frans Hermans from the Leibniz Institute of Agricultural Development in Transition Economies (IAMO), Halle. He analysed the role of clusters in the development of the bioeconomy and stressed that policy strategies for cluster development are best conceived and implemented at the regional level. Prof. Josef Glössl then presented the concepts for bioeconomy research at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU) Vienna, which has long been based on the combination of natural sciences, engineering, economics and social sciences. In the third keynote speech, Thomas Müller-Kirschbaum presented the sustainability strategy of the Henkel company, which encompasses the entire value chain from raw materials through production, packaging and use to recycling.
The first poster session and the lunch break were followed by the lecture session „User experience and user-centered design methods in the bioeconomy“. Rainer Harms (University of Twente) presented how the early involvement of potential users can support the efficient and successful development of new products. Michael Wustmans (TIM, University of Bonn) presented new methods for involving users which were developed in connection with the BioSC FocusLab greenRelease. Tiina Kymäläinen (VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, Tampere) presented the concept of „Science Fiction Prototyping“ which is based on the idea to describe the possibilities and effects of future technologies by creating science fiction stories. Afterwards, a one-hour World Café offered the participants the opportunity to discuss the topics of the lectures intensively with the speakers and other participants.
After the second poster session the evening lecture session „Innovative concepts for green value chains“ started. Moritz Wagner (Department Biobased Products, University of Hohenheim) explained that renewable raw materials are only sustainable under certain conditions, for example when perennial biomass plants are used in the context of a circular economy. Karel De Winter (BioBase Europe Pilot Plant, Ghent) used impressive examples to show how a biorefinery designed as a service facility can enable product developments for small and medium-sized companies. Stefaan De Wildeman presented the start-up company b4plastics (Maasmechelen), which develops and produces new biodegradable plastics based on renewable raw materials. Finally, results from the BioSC FocusLabs Bio2 and CombiCom were presented. Nina Ihling (BioVT, RWTH Aachen) and Anita Loeschcke (IMET, HHU Düsseldorf) demonstrated the successful use of Pseudomonas putida for the production of biosurfactants from agricultural residues as well as for the production of high-value natural substances and their chemical derivatives.
Three poster prizes were awarded at the end of the first day. The winners are Alina Herrmann (Bioinorganic Chemistry, RWTH Aachen) with „Renewables to high-performance bioplastics by sustainable production ways“, Liudmyla Goncharenko (Biotechnology, RWTH Aachen) with „greenRelease: Technology advancement“ and Samer Habash (Molecular Phytomedicine, University of Bonn) with „The plant secondary metabolite nootkatone inhibits plant parasitism of cyst nematode“.
The second day of the symposium began with a keynote speech by Thomas Gries (ITA, RWTH Aachen), who highlighted the special challenges and opportunities for textile production in the transition to renewable raw materials. In the following lecture session „BioSC meets friends“, the three clusters in North Rhine-Westphalia were presented which are funded within the framework of the Excellence Initiative of the Federal Government. Cyril Stachniss (University of Bonn) introduced the PhenoRob cluster, which aims to develop digital methods for the efficient cultivation of crops. Andreas Weber (HHU Düsseldorf) presented the CEPLAS cluster which focuses on the cultivation of crop plants in view of current and future global challenges. Bastian Lehrheuer (RWTH Aachen) introduced „The Fuel Science Center“ in which new fuels based on biomass, CO2 and hydrogen are developed. In all three lectures possible starting points for cooperation with the BioSC became clear.
The concluding lecture session dealt with the topic „(Regional) Implementation of the Bioeconomy“. Michael Schweizer (Ilsfeld) introduced the company TECNARO which develops and produces plastics based on biopolymers and natural fibres. Johannes Rupp (Institute for Ecological Economy Research, Berlin) presented a concept for the establishment of the bioeconomy in rural areas, with a local and decentralised creation of value which goes beyond the pure cultivation of biomass. Christian Klar (IBG-2, Forschungszentrum Jülich) presented the project „BioökonomieREVIER“, which aims at the development of the Rhenish lignite mining area into a model region for bioeconomy within the framework of the coal phase-out, involving civil society and other stakeholders. Finally, Sandra Venghaus (IEK-STE, Forschungszentrum Jülich) spoke about transformation processes and stakeholder discourses using the example of structural change in Rhenish lignite mining and presented first results from the BioSC project Transform2Bio.
The next International BioSC Symposium will take place on 16 and 17 November 2020 in Berlin, in the context of the 3rd Global Bioeconomy Summit. Further information will be announced in time on the BioSC homepage.