Our CLIB member Phytowelt GreenTechnologies GmbH had invited together with the IHK Cologne colleagues, friends and partners to the Symposium “Biotechnology at work for sustainability” which took place on 07 September 2023. The multifaceted and thought-provoking presentations were a great way to celebrate Phytowelt’s 25-year anniversary.
Matthias Braun (formerly Sanofi) set the tone for the topic of the day with his controversial account of biotech vs. chemical process development. He pointed out that the decision for one over the other depends on many external factors. The driving forces are often neither process nor energy efficiency, but simply the cost efficiency of an industrial process. This puts plant-based processes and products “in an advantageous position”, as he concluded.
Next, Ingrid Torres-Monroy and Lena Kernebeck (both Phytowelt) took the participants into travel back in time, revisiting Phytowelt’s main achievements and milestones over the last two and a half decades. The versatility of Phytowelt’s innovative ideas shaping diverse technologies and developments was impressive to see in its entirety.
Frank Kensy (b.fab GmbH) presented his formate-based technology to energy-efficiently fixate carbon dioxide and provide an easy to handle and multi-purpose intermediate for biotechnological or chemical upgrading. The combination of electrochemistry with biotechnology offers possibilities to de-fossilise many products.
As last speaker, Laia Segura Broncano (CEPLAS) presented the targets of her research in green biotechnology. At the moment, the presence of oxygen hinders a more efficient carbon fixation of plants due to toxic effects. An improved photorespiration, achieved by plant engineering, has the potential to significantly increase the uptake of carbon dioxide by plants.
In a final discussion, speakers and participants discussed the public perception of genetic engineering, political influences on this perception, and the need to actively shape an innovation-friendly environment for biotech developments and solutions in the European markets.
After the official programme, all participants were treated to raspberry-flavoured beer and coffee, with the flavour produced by the Phytowelt itself via its proprietary fermentation process. We congratulate Phytowelt on its 25-year anniversary and hope that this taste remains for a long time in future. As a personal gift, Phytowelt’s CEO and CLIB board member Peter Welters was awarded with the “Golden Gene Scissors” by CLIB’s representatives Roland Breves (Henkel) and Dennis Herzberg.