Exclusive interview with Zurina Che Dir: “In 2020, Bioeconomy’s contribution towards Malaysia’s GDP is targeted to contribute 8%-10%

Palm plantation in Malaysia
Palm plantation in Malaysia

“The Malaysian bioeconomy today is worth more than USD 4.4 billion (RM14 billion) and creates over 83,000 people.  As you can see, bioeconomy is an important component in creating a more sustainable future where resources are used in the most efficient way. In 2020, Bioeconomy’s contribution towards Malaysia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is targeted to contribute 8%-10% from the current 2%-3%”. To say this, in this long exclusive interview with Il Bioeconomista, is Zurina Che Dir, Senior Vice President Bioeconomy Development Division of the Malaysian Biotechnology Corporation. With Mrs. Zurina Che Dir we talk about bioeconomy in Malaysia, where “the Government has identified bioeconomy as one of the key strategic drivers to elevate the nation’s socio-economic development”.

Interview by Mario Bonaccorso

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Hungary relies on the bioeconomy to grow

The Hungarian Parliament in Budapest
The Hungarian Parliament in Budapest

Hungary relies on the bioeconomy to grow. Its capital region has vast untapped biomass resources and R&D competencies, states a recent study on the future landscapes of bioeconomy. The paper was accomplished within the framework of the Bioeconomy platform of Climate-KIC, Europe’s largest public-private innovation partnership focused on mitigating and adapting to climate change.

The Bioeconomy platform aims to support the transition to a bio-based economy by developing an integrated, holistic approach across entire value chains from  feedstock production to efficient processing and conversion, and ultimately the production and marketing of bio-based products. Along these lines the Hungarian study delivers an insight into the emerging field of bioeconomy with emphasis  on the opportunities in Hungary by means of assessing natural endowments, key stakeholders and R&D infrastructure from the perspective of relevant Climate-KIC projects. The main European and global drivers as well as the basic technological knowledge are also presented.

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Exclusive interview with Jukka Kantola, NISCluster: EU policies for the use of biomass are short-sighted

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“At the moment focus in European policies is to endorse biomass utilization for the energy applications. This is short-sighted, as on those applications biomass does not bring the best added value. Also there is not enough biomass in Europe to meet up all energy and climate target in EU-level. Biomass is more valuable on chemical and material applications”. To say it, in this exclusive interview with Il Bioeconomista, is Jukka Kantola, CEO of NISCluster, a Finnish private bioeconomy company with a focus on the woody biomass. With Kantola we talk about the bioeconomy in Finland, the EU policies and the different uses of biomass.

Interview by Mario Bonaccorso

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Exclusive interview with Daniel Gibbs (General Biomass Company)

20th European Biomass Conference
20th European Biomass Conference

“The central question for the development of any new field, such as the bioeconomy, is: ‘Who’s going to do it?’ Which countries and which companies are going to make the investments and do the hard development work to achieve the technology and the infrastructure which are necessary to move forward?  Technologies are important, feedstocks are important, but at the end of the day it is all about who has the will and motivation to fund and develop these systems”. To say it in this exclusive interview with Il Bioeconomista is Daniel Gibbs, Founder and Ceo of the General Biomass Company, which is currently developing advanced industrial enzymes and other technology to convert nonfood cellulosic feedstocks to sugars for bioplastics, sustainable packaging, renewable chemicals and biofuels. With Gibbs we talk about the bioeconomy in US,  the different roles played by America, Europe and Asia, considering the strategic role of cheap nonfood biomass to the further development of the bioeconomy. “We need to realize- says Gibbs –  that production of biobased chemicals and plastics from biomass may be a very significant driver of technology development, since the monomers for bioplastics have a higher oxygen content and thus a higher yield than the alkanes needed, e.g., for biojetfuel or biodiesel. Both chemically and financially, this becomes attractive for consumer brands and sustainable packaging

Interview by Mario Bonaccorso

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Australian Bioeconomy: Leaf Energy to fund first trial program on Actinogen’s bioethanol project

Perth, the capital of Western Australia
Perth, the capital of Western Australia

Actinogen Limited, heaquartered in Western Australia, has entered into a collaborative and royalty agreement with Leaf Energy Ltd in the company’s Bioethanol project. Under the terms of the agreement Leaf Energy, an Australian company focused on turning waste into biofuels, bioplastics and green chemicals, will fund further studies in Actinogen’s Bioethanol project; in which the company previously identified strains of actinomycetes capable of producing cellulases. Cellulase are enzymes used to breakdown cellulose from plant material, papers and industrial waste glycerols (biomass), and are an important step in the production of second generation bioethanols.

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BASF and Renmatix together for the production of industrial sugars based on lignocellulosic biomass

Headquarter of Basf in Ludwigshafen
Headquarter of Basf in Ludwigshafen

BASF and Renmatix will jointly scale up the Renmatix Plantrose process for the production of industrial sugars based on lignocellulosic biomass. The two companies signed a non-exclusive joint development agreement. The parties have agreed to key financial terms for future commercial licenses, which BASF can exercise at its discretion. The collaboration follows BASF’s $30 million investment in Renmatix in January 2012.

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Exclusive interview with Stan Blade, Alberta Innovates: Canada has a tremendous biomass base

alberta

“Canada has a tremendous biomass base. In Alberta we have 22m+ ha of agricultural land and 35+m of forest land. We see groups coming from around the world to access our biomass”. To say it is Stan Blade, Chief Executive Officer at Alberta Innovates – Bio Solutions, a research agency funded by the Government of Alberta that works with partners to identify, coordinate and fund research projects. It helps solve industry challenges with solutions that deliver economic, environmental and social benefits. In this interview with Blade we talk about the bioeconomy in Canada, with a special focus on Alberta, which is investing strongly in converting the province’s biomass resources beyond traditional commodities into higher value products.  These new products increase economic returns from Alberta’s natural resources.  Biomass includes agriculture and forestry fibre, by-products and other feedstocks such as livestock manure and municipal solid waste.

Interview by Mario Bonaccorso

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Exclusive interview with Sebastian Søderberg, VP Novozymes: “The Bioeconomy reconciles growth, jobs and sustainability”

Novozymes Headquarter
Novozymes Headquarter

“The biobased economy has an unprecedented ability to reconcile growth, jobs, rural development and sustainability. The World Economic Forum estimates that by 2020, biorefining could generate globally over € 225 billion Euro per year across the whole biomass value chain. Policy makers around the globe are waking up to the potential of the biobased economy progressively”. To say it in this exclusive interview with Il Bioeconomista is Sebastian Søderberg, Vice President, Biomass Conversion, of Novozymes, the Danish biotech company with a strong focus on enzyme production and world leader in bioinnovation. With Søderberg we talk about bioeconomy, with a special focus on European policies to encourage the development of the sector: “A comprehensive policy – says the Danish top manager – should therefore stimulate both the demand (tax incentives, production support and feed in tariff) and supply (feedstock collection and supply-chain incentives) for biobased products as well as unlock the necessary investments for demonstration and first-of-its-kind commercial-scale plants (e.g. through the PPP on Biobased Industries)”.

Interview by Mario Bonaccorso

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Genetically modified tobacco plants are viable as raw material for producing biofuels

Tobacco plants
Tobacco plants

A Spanish researcher has demonstrated, for the first time, the viability of using specific tobacco proteins (known as thioredoxins) as biotechnological tools in plants.

In her PhD thesis Ruth Sanz-Barrio, an agricultural engineer of the NUP/UPNA-Public University of Navarre and researcher at the Institute of Biotechnology (mixed centre of the CSIC-Spanish National Research Council, Public University of Navarre and the Government of Navarre), has managed to increase the amount of starch produced in the tobacco leaves by 700% and fermentable sugars by 500%. “We believe that these genetically modified plants” – she explained – “could be a good alternative to food crops for producing biofuels, and could provide an outlet for the tobacco-producing areas in our country that see their future in jeopardy owing to the discontinuing of European grants for this crop.”

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The European Parliament called for a 6% cap on the use of traditional biofuels

European Parliament, Brussels
European Parliament, Brussels
The European Parliament called for a cap on the use of traditional biofuels and a speedy switchover to new biofuels from alternative sources such as seaweed and waste, in a vote on draft legislation yesterday. So called “first-generation” biofuels – from food crops – should not exceed 6% of fuel used in transport by 2020, amending the target from 10%.The measures aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that result from the increasing turnover of agricultural land to biofuel production.

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