Press releases
29 November 2011, Zwingenberg, Frankfurt

IntInternational Summer School – A scientific platform for the next generation of researchers

The 2011 Summer School for Biotransformations was organised, among others, by Jürgen Eck (BRAIN AG, Zwingenberg), Andreas Liese (Hamburg University of Technology, TUHH), Andreas Schmid (Dortmund University), Jens Schrader (DECHEMA, Frankfurt) and Christoph Syldatk (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, KIT).

Participation in the Summer School was limited. A distinguished panel of experts selected 86 up-and-coming researchers from a total of more than 200 applications. The participants flocked to the northern part of the Black Forest from 18 different countries to converse about applied biotechnology issues. A particularly noteworthy item on the agenda were the so-called “speed lectures” – a true challenge for the 86 young scientists, as they were asked to present their work in a mere two minutes to the audience. A total of 26 speakers from the worlds of academia and business discussed the development of novel enzymes and production processes and provided insights into state-of-the-art methods to optimise enzymatic properties for applications in industrial processes.

Many lecturers also touched upon innovation management, highlighting the need to speed up the development and implementation of processes leading to new biotech products - from the first scientific idea to market maturity.

Alfredo Aguilar, head of the European Commission’s Biotechnologies Unit based in Brussels, also underscored how important this transformation process is. He made clear that a scientific invention must not end with the writing of a paper, as he called upon the young delegates to interact with researchers from other fields of science to help ideas find their way to commercial production. Speaking to the participants of the Summer School he said: “Think and work more to get the results that are both useful and in demand by our society. In your future professional lives you will be interacting not only with other scientists, not only with industry, but also with the people in the street, with politicians, with philosophers, with bioethics etc.”

A good example of academic research successfully interacting with business partners is the “Biocatalysis2021” cluster, focussing on the exploration of industrially relevant biocatalysts made from micro-organisms. Andreas Liese (TUHH), himself a member of the cluster management and several “Biocatalysis2021” projects, presented some thoughts on ecological and social compatibility in his lecture titled “Non-Conventional Biotransformations”. He emphasised that a close interaction between academic research and industrial implementation of the results will help all partners involved to make research results both a scientific and economic success.

In his presentation on innovation generation, Jürgen Eck, BRAIN AG’s CTO, pointed out that “innovation always depends on individuals and the environment in which they operate.” He went on to underscore that “it is exactly events such as the Summer School that help create the environment needed to clear the way for inventions and innovations.” In this context the continuous expansion of one’s individual network of scientists is a key asset according to Eck.

Concluding the event Christoph Syldatk (KIT) and Jens Schrader (DECHEMA) said that introducing young researchers to the various facets of bio-economics, pointing out existing difficulties to them and creating new opportunities for interaction must continue to remain an important objective in the future.

Thanks to the commitment of all invited speakers and organisers – such as DECHEMA, VAAM and BRAIN AG – as well as the focused work of the selected researchers, the second Summer School “Biotransformations 2011” was a true success. Both participants and organisers agreed that the Biotransformations Summer School tradition must continue and that a follow-up event is to take place soon. You are cordially invited to particapate in the workshop “Catalyzing Bioeconomy” organized by the Section on Biotransformation, which will take place in Frankfurt am Main on April 24-25, 2012.

Von links nach rechts: Florian Hollfelder, University of Cambridge, UK,
Alfredo Aguilar, Biotechnologies Unit, European Commission, Belgium,
© Kristian Barthen, Archiv BRAIN AG, Zwingenberg

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Von links nach rechts: Florian Hollfelder, University of Cambridge, UK, Alfredo Aguilar, Biotechnologies Unit, European Commission, Belgium, Jürgen Eck, co-organiser and CTO of BRAIN AG, Germany

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