Frankfurt, 12 March 2010 - “It is high time to act in favor of Biosciences, in particular in favor of industrial biotechnology. Otherwise Europe will soon lag behind present and future competitors on the world market like Brazil, Russia, India, China and Korea (BRICK-States)”, stated Dr. Christian Patermann, member of the German BioEconomyTechnology Council (BioÖkonomierat ) of the German Federal Government and former Director of the European Commission, responsible for biotechnology, agriculture and food in the Directorate General of Research and Technology.
How industrial biotechnology could contribute to strengthen European industry was the main topic of an expert panel yesterday at the FIZ Frankfurt Innovation Center in Frankfurt. The event had been organized by the European Renewable Resources & Materials Association EERMA, the German Association of Chemical Industry, via its regional affiliation of the German Land of Hessen, and the Wirtschaftpolitische Gesellschaft WiPOG e. V.
“Europe still provides for a research basis of excellence in general and for a strong chemical industry, well interlinked with various business fields and scientific disciplines, and is even still a world leader in Biosciences. Europe needs to keep this edge over his many competitors and even to increase this edge by a stronger use of industrial biotechnology”, Dr. Peterman emphasized.
In this context he mentioned the recently published new EU strategy Europe 2020 which will replace the Lisbon Strategy. The Head of States are going to discuss it on 26th of March. In this strategy within the EU Flagship Initiative “Innovation Union“ explicitly refers to “building the Bio-Economy by 2020“, a concrete example for “European Innovation Partnerships“ between the EU and national levels to ensure Europe’s industrial future with the help of novel technologies. Dr. Patermann qualified this as an encouraging signal.
Biogases products have already been defined for Europe as one of the 6 lead-markets in the European Lead-Market Initiative. The Coalition Treaty of the new German government also stresses the importance of the Bioeconomy. The newly founded Bioeconomy Council of the Federal Government has got the mandate to work out and implement an international competitive strategy to establish such a knowledgebase bioeconomy in Germany.
Microorganisms, enzymes and plants as renewable resources will become the basis for modern environmentally efficient and resources saving products and processes. Existing best practices and technologies will be linked with each other and combined with relevant other fields, like Chemistry. “The use of enzymatic additives in detergents will achieve an annual reduction of Co2 emissions of about 1 Million tons“ quotes Dr. Holger Zinke, CEO of BRAIN AG as a striking example.
Resources efficiency and sustainable growth
Industrial Biotechnology plays a growing role when delivering ecologically efficient and energy saving products and processes: Therefore their sustainable use demands commonly agreed measures of certification.
Dr. Bernhard Bauske, Director Business and Industry Relations of WWF Germany underlined in his intervention the contribution of industrial biotechnology combating global climate changes, in particular by developing sustainable products and using renewable resources. Speakers from industry, like Rolf Luther, Head of Test Fields and Advanced Development of the Fuchs Europe Schmierstoffe GmbH and Dr. Christine Stiehl, BASF, responsible for Communication and Governmental Relations/Economic Policy demonstrated in concrete cases and results how industry has already successfully self-committed in specific industrial branches with respect to bio-lubricants and bio-polymers. Such ways and methods of self-commitments have already been acknowledged and even regarded as groundbreaking the European Commission. Within this context industry actively contributes to the elaboration of EU-norms and standards, Ecolabels and measures for certification.
During the panel debate there was wide common understanding that such concrete measures on a voluntary basis should be given priority to legally binding requirements.
Demands for support of industrial biotechnology
The panel of experts at the FIZ Frankfurt Innovation Centre Biotechnology formulated the following demands so that industrial biotechnology combined with chemistry could better play its role and use its potentials driving innovation and positively contribute to sustainable growth and more employment:
- Building up and operation of demonstration and pilot plants to increase public acceptance of the so-called white biotechnology;
- Elaboration of commonly agreed quality standards and the relevant legal framework. A positive model would be the results of relevant activities by CEN and DIN, working out norms and standards for biobased products, in particular for bio-lubricants and bio-polymers;
- Implementation of the Lead-Market Initiative of the EU also for Germany by the German Federal Government;
- Launch of an information campaign to increase the acceptance and knowledge on industrial biotechnology.
The participants in the Conference, almost 90 attendees coming from politics, industry, associations, organizations and research, also widely agreed on the need to continue the relevant dialogue aiming at implementing successfully the above posted demands. Particular attention should be paid in the future also to involve NGOs on European and national level in this dialogue.