A bio energy powered future
13th March: Key players in the global explosion of discoveries and
interest in technologies that will fast track the development of
affordable bio-based products, including bio fuels, will be in New
Zealand this year for ABIC 2012.
Among the international leaders
confirmed to attend the agricultural biotechnology event is Dr Gunter
Festel, the founder of Swiss-based investment firm Festel Capital,
which is putting considerable capital into bio energy projects. Also
attending is Michael Christiansen who heads the China arm of Novozymes,
producer of a wide range of bio solutions, including enzymes suitable
for bio fuel production. Additionally, United States energy crop
producer Ceres is sending its Chief Scientific Officer, Dr Richard
ABIC, the world’s top agbiotech conference, is taking
place in Rotorua in September, hosted by New Zealand’s biotechnology
industry organisation NZBIO with support from its Australian
counterpart AusBiotech. The Ministry of Science and Innovation is the
founding partner for the event.
With the global industrial
biotechnology industry set to grow by more than 400 per cent over the
next five years, ABIC 2012 organisers say the industry’s potential to
revolutionise sectors such as energy and consumer products will be an
important topic in Rotorua.
“In those areas, there is a huge
flowering of research and business uniting organisations ranging from
chemical companies to agbiotech firms and energy providers, says
Elspeth MacRae, General Manager Manufacturing and Bioproducts at crown
research institute Scion, and a member of the ABIC programme committee.
very relevant for many countries, including New Zealand which has a
fund of biological knowledge, an excellent environment, and is
beginning to develop the bio-based products of the future.
example, Scion has developed a bio plastic/bio fibre technology that
could replace agricultural fibres, such as hemp, flax and sisal, in
plastic manufacturing. The major advantage of Scion’s new wood fibre
dice is their ease of handling in conventional extruders, plus the
strength they give to traditional polymers.”
Scion, which is
also sponsoring ABIC 2012, is carrying out a range of cutting-edge
research to create new materials, energy products and green chemicals
with bio fuels and bio refineries – key elements of the emerging
industrial biotechnology sector - a major focus.
Keynote speaker Dr Gunter Festel has predicted that bio energy
technologies in particular will grow rapidly in the next decade as
prices for crude oil steadily rise.
Greg Mann, General Manager
of Whakatane-based forest biotechnology business ArborGen, which is
breeding new tree stocks for a range of bio power and bio fuels
applications, hopes a focus on bio energy at ABIC 2012 will kick-start
change in New Zealand.
“Given that New Zealand has an energy
strategy that envisages a future characterised by rising oil prices,
penalties for greenhouse gas emissions and new bio energy technologies
coming on stream, bio energy is a no-brainer.”
While it’s widely
agreed that growing crops for bio fuel is not an option for New
Zealand, Mann says we are well positioned to produce new fuels and wood
pellets for bio power from trees.
“Wood is the best scale
biomass option we have as an alternative to fossil fuels. We could
supply 10 per cent of New Zealand’s transport fuel needs from forest
residue and waste right now and we have the land to develop purpose
grown forests, without compromising agricultural production, to
dramatically increase that percentage.
“We could also be
generating power from wood pellets, which is a sustainable alternative
to lignite when Maui gas runs out, and exporting wood pellets to
countries like Japan and South Korea.”
He backs the view of New
Zealand’s Commissioner for the Environment that replacing imported
diesel with locally produced bio fuels is a realistic target for New
Zealand “Of course there are challenges, including immature
technologies for conversion to bio fuels and a lack of infrastructure
to distribute bio fuels to users but, around the world, a lot of
resources are going toward finding solutions to those kinds of issues.”
The theme of ABIC 2012 is Adapting to a Changing World.
is attended by industry leaders, researchers and scientists, investors
and policy makers who come together to learn about the latest advances
in agbiotech and discuss how technologies can be applied to global
issues. It will be held in Rotorua from 2- 6 September.
Lynley Browne Tel +64 21 226 8223
first ABIC conference was held in Canada in 1996 and in 1998 the ABIC
Foundation was set up to ensure the continued success of ABIC meetings.
The Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation overseen by a board of
directors with representation from several countries and based in
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Its goal is to ensure ongoing opportunities
for continuous learning and networking within the agbiotech community
through the annual Agricultural Biotechnology International Conference.
ABIC conferences are held on a four year rotation in the following
regions: Europe/Africa/Middle East; Asia Pacific; United
States/Canada/Mexico; and South America.
is a vibrant member-based organisation focused on growing New Zealand’s
prosperous bioeconomy. With hundreds of individual and corporate
members from across agbiotech, human health, industrial and
environmental and food bioscience, NZBIO plays a leading role in
providing practical support for companies to grow. NZBIO’s
activities include member events, seminars and conferences, policy
advocacy, national and international outreach and promotion. Our
membership base ranges from start up bioscience companies, to mature
corporates and major multinationals. We also represent New
Zealand research institutes and universities, specialist service
professionals, corporate, institutional, individual and student members
from New Zealand and around the world.
is an important voice of the New Zealand bioscience sector informing
policy makers, enabling collaboration and investment, showcasing New
Zealand’s capability to the world and demonstrating how biosciences can
contribute to societal, economic and environmental challenges.
About the Ministry of Science and Innovation
Ministry of Science and Innovation (MSI) has an exciting and ambitious
mandate to coordinate and harness the scientific and innovative
capability of New Zealand. MSI has a strong enabling and connecting
role across the government, business and science sectors within New
Zealand and a role in building New Zealand’s international profile as a
smart country. By increasing collaborations and connections, MSI aims
to create an environment where cutting-edge science and innovation can
As a major supporter of New Zealand's Bio sector, MSI
is proud to support the 2012 Agricultural Biotechnology International
is Australia's biotechnology industry organisation representing 3,000
members covering the human health, agricultural, medical devices and
diagnostics, food technology, environmental and industrial sectors in
biotechnology. AusBiotech is dedicated to the development, growth and
prosperity of the Australian biotechnology industry, by providing
initiatives to drive sustainability and growth, outreach and access to
markets, and representation and support for members nationally and
around the world. Its membership base includes biotechnology companies,
ranging from start-ups to mature multinationals, research institutes
and universities, specialist service professionals, corporate,
institutional, individual and student members from Australia and
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