BIO World Congress agenda shows industrial biotech diversifying, differentiating, disrupting, disintermediating

May 15, 2017 |

This July, industrial biotech returns to its largest and grandest stage at the BIO World Congress, which convenes in Montreal on July 23rd through the 26th, and the plenary program offers convincing proof that the industry is diversifying fast into chemicals, nutrition, packaging, personal care, Every day, it is touching the consumer more and more directly in a shift away from pure bulk commodities and policy chat and into differentiated end-user product and packaging experiences that speak to customers whether they are looking for more sustainable products or novel performance.

Show me the Money

The pitch to Wall Street comes up first on July 24th when the World Congress opens the plenary program with “Why Bet on Renewables? Attracting Private Capital for Renewable Chemical Commercialization”. The investor panel features Brian Baynes, Partner, Flagship Pioneering  William Byun, Principal, Conchubar Capital Advisory and Pavel Molchanov, Senior Vice President and Equity Analyst, Raymond James & Associates.

The Flava Brigade

But the pitch to Main Street will come quickly in view — and you’ll know it’s not your Dad’s industrial biotech when the focus shifts to “Biotech and the Future of Food Ingredients, Flavorings, and Personal Care” and the speakers include Andreas Birmoser, Senior Vice President Strategy and Business Development, Stora Enso Biomaterials, John Melo, President and Chief Executive Officer, Amyris , Markus Pompejus, Vice President White Biotechnology Research North America, BASF Corporation, and Jill Zullo, Vice President, Bioindustrials NA, Cargill.

The Fuel Disruptors

Fuels will be in evidence early on July 25th, but it’s all advanced technology and advances around the globe in “Second Generation Biofuels Poised for Big Wins,” with Pramod Chaudhari, Executive Chairman of Praj Industries Ltd., Marc Delcourt, Chief Executive Officer, Global Bioenergies, Jonas Markusson, Innovation and Product Development Manager, SEKAB, Hermann Pengg, Head of Renewable Fuels & Lifecycle Analysis Department, Audi AG, Mario Pennisi, Chief Executive Officer, Life Sciences Queensland, and Mena Salib, Manager of Aircraft Noise and Emissions, Air Canada.

Telling the Story

With product experiences more likely to touch the consumer through advantaged and differentiated brands, a new plenary session we’ve not seen before on the stage debuts on the 25th, “Effectively Communicating the Benefits of Industrial Biotechnology”, with Herman Betten, Global Head of Public Relations, DSM, Melody Bomgartner, Senior Business Editor, Chemical & Engineering News, Doris de Guzman, Senior Consultant – Bio-Materials, Tecnon OrbiChem USA, Stephan Herrera, Vice President, Strategy and Public Affairs, Evolva, and Sylvie Latieule, Director, Info Chimie Magazine.

Big Things Come in Sustainable Packages

The World Congress turns back to the the “Revolution in Biobased Products and Packaging” — a second plenary session on July 26th aimed at the emerging world of biomaterials and taking into account the changes in packaging. We’ll see Thijs Rodenburg, Chief Executive Officer, Rodenburg Biopolymers, Michael Saltzberg, Global Business Director, Biomaterials, DuPont Industrial Biosciences, Gustavo Sergi, Renewable Chemicals Business Director, Braskem, Puneet Trehan, Material Innovation and Development Leader, IKEA and Bob Walsh, Senior Vice President, Energy Sector, Intrexon.

Takeaways from the World Congress line-up this year?

First of all, it’s worth noting that there is hardly a speaker on stage whose organization is not multi-national in character or at least based entirely outside of North America. Industrial biotech is spreading around the globe and there’s a capital W in “World Congress” this year. Also worth noting that one-half of the plenary sessions take on renewable chemicals and biomaterials this year in some form — fuels are still in the foreground for many players — but the focus on materials and on products that more permanently sequester carbon is patently on view.

We also note the rise of big-budgeted major players and technologies in advanced states of technical readiness — there’s been quite a shift from the R to the D — players like Cargill, DuPont, DSM, IKEA, SEKAB, Air Canada, BASF, Stora Enso, and Braskem are clear evidence in the plenaries. Not to mention listed industrial biotech companies like Evolva, Intrexon and Global Bioenergies.

Finally, we note a shift away from the tradition of policymakers and consultants talking up the promise of industrial biotech and the opportunities they see for market access and decarbonizing the economy. The themes have changed from role-definition and roll-call to roll-out, roll-up. and roll-on — and that’s a potent and welcome sign of the times.

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