This year, bio.be/essenscia focuses its annual event on the 3 following topics:
• Agrobiotechnologies – Genome editing: nice to have or must have?
– Esteban Alcalde – Syngenta
– Didier Breyer – Sciensano
– Prof. Hervé Vanderschuren – University of Liège & University of Louvain
• Health biotechnologies – Cell & Gene therapies, the game changer versus classical therapies?
– Diane Kleinermans – Ministry of Public Health and Social Security
– Prof. Frank Luyten – University of Leuven
– Wim Pluymers – Novartis Oncology Belgium-Luxemburg
• Industrial biotechnologies – Bioplastics: the markets are ready, what about the industry?
– Agnes Borg – EuropaBio
– Philippe Dewolfs – TÜV Austria Belgium
– Erwin Lepoudre – Kaneka Belgium
3 main themes in 3 short sessions that will allow scientists, the industry and the authorities to share their insights from their respective fields of expertise.
Biotechnologies are improving our daily lives for a very long time. The most visible are certainly the health biotechnologies. Every year, new vaccines, molecular diagnostics and biopharmaceutical products are launched and contribute to the prevention, treatment and cure of patients all over the world. Belgium plays a crucial part in this effort through the excellence of its universities, research centres and its industry composed of large companies, SMEs and numerous spin-offs and start-ups.
Agrobiotechnologies also bring innovations on the global market that are now essential to meet the challenges of modern agriculture, which must feed the planet while preserving natural resources. Here too, Belgium is a pioneer.
Finally, industrial biotechnologies that transform biomass into everyday consumer products will contribute, when used on a large scale, to make the transition to a biobased economy.
Despite these benefits and strong links between biotechnologies and societal challenges, opinion is being stirred up against these technological advances; and this, as a matter of principle. Europe too is sometimes reluctant to support emerging techniques that are nevertheless based on scientific evidences. However, they are likely, on the one hand, to bring innovation to answer unmet needs and, on the other hand, to consolidate the biotechnology industry, which is in full development and whose socio-economic impact will be major for the years to come.