Time and again pundits promise a revolution based on biology will succeed those based on engineering and chemistry. On each occasion, the prophesy is expressed as radical and derived from observing recent developments. Yet, for a hundred years before even the discovery of recombinant DNA fermentation, as this talk will illustrate, technology had been promising and often delivering industrial transformation. By the 1920s the word ‘biotechnology’ was in German dictionaries. Even then it was not just a word it was a concept of the future.
“From Concept to Commercialization”
The ninth Recent Advances in Fermentation Technology (RAFT IX) will take place November 6-9 at the Marco Island Marriott, Marco Island, FL. Co-sponsors: Society for Industrial Microbiology (SIM) and the American Chemical Society, Division of Biochemical Technology. Visit the meeting web site for complete meeting details.
Join SIM when you register and get the discounted member rate!
Held biannually, RAFT provides a forum for industrial and academic scientists to discuss the latest developments in fermentation technology. This year’s meeting will follow a theme of “From Concept to Commercialization.”
Informative Sessions & Networking Opportunities
Sessions will take us sequentially from early stage research through to production, and in each session we plan to have a range of speakers from different industry/academic sectors. Online program available.
In addition to the seven sessions, there will also be one poster session and tabletop exhibits. These activities will be enhanced by networking receptions and morning and afternoon breaks. Group breakfasts and lunches will afford additional opportunities to meet your peers.
Keynote talk will be given by Dr. David Glassner, Executive Vice President of Technology at Gevo. Read his abstract, From Concept to Commercialization – Experiences from Lactic Acid and Isobutanol.
News & Deadlines
Register. Pre-registration ends Friday, October 21.
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I am pleased to begin serving the Society for Industrial Microbiology (SIM) as President for 2011-2012. SIM has been in existence since 1949 and continues to be the premier society for industrial microbiology and biotechnology. Unlike some organizations which are about policy making and business dealing, SIM remains about presenting, publishing, and promoting quality science. This will continue to be SIM’s mission during and long after my term as president.
Dr. Glassner will be Keynote Speaker at SIM’s 9th annual Recent Advances in Fermentation Technology. RAFT IX will be held November 6-9 in Marco Island, FL. The meeting theme is “From Concept to Commercialization.” Learn more about RAFT IX.
Many organizations are pursuing the production of industrial biochemicals and fuels using synthetic biology to create magic bugs. However, there are very few examples of success in the industrial biochemical and fuels sector because success is driven by high efficiency, low cost and large scale which is not easily achieved. This contribution will provide insights on meeting the challenges in moving novel, recombinant fermentation technology from concept to commercialization using lactic acid and isobutanol as examples.
The key characteristics of each project are similar and start with the definition of a target product and process forming an economically attractive business opportunity. The business opportunity created by the new product allows the target performance characteristics for the new microorganism to be established from a process economic analysis. Both operating and capital cost for implementation are considered in establishing the microorganism performance targets. However, the performance target is not established by looking at microorganism literature but rather on establishing a low cost, highly efficient manufacturing process that may be equaled but not beaten from an economic standpoint.
After the performance targets are established, resources required to successfully develop the fermentative organism must be assembled. The resources are a combination of funding and technical capabilities. The technical capabilities include personnel, equipment and facilities required to successfully execute the microorganism development project. Capabilities will make or break a project and certainly play a key role in the time required to reach commercialization or the possibility of ever reaching commercialization.
The final component in a successful commercialization is leadership. Strong leadership is required to obtain required resources, communicate how, when and why success will be attained and to inspire the team developing the microorganism to success. The key characteristics outlined will be illustrated by a variety of experiences and lessons learned on the way from concept to commercialization for lactic acid and isobutanol.
Fifteen years ago the SIM annual meeting had loads of talks dealing with natural products (I knew the S. coelicolor ActI gene sequence by heart) and there was barely a talk on fuel ethanol to be found. Now there are plenty of biofuel talks to go along with a healthy dose of natural products (and I no longer remember the ActI sequence). So it begs the question, what will we be listening to at the 2025 annual meeting. As I look into my crystal ball, the answer is…. in vitro meat cultivation.
These are meat products that are grown using tissue culture technologies in the lab and TIME magazine identified in vitro meat production as one of the top 50 breakthrough ideas of 2009. This is not a vegetable protein-imitation; it is a product derived from culturing real animal muscle tissue cells. Unfortunately we are not talking filet mignon or porter house; the product would be more like hamburger.
The benefits of in vitro meat cultivation include: ease of feeding a larger population, limited land use, more efficient water use, well defined quality, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and reduced fuel vs. food decision making for food production. During this past summer, a small group of scientists met in Gothenburg, Sweden (organized by Chalmers University of Technology and the European Science Foundation) to review the technology components necessary to reduce this concept to practice. This included discussions on cell lines and culture medium nutrients derived from photosynthetic organisms such as cyanobacteria.
So at the 2025 annual meeting, a company may not simply provide money for the banquet, they may produce the entrée.
About Neal Connors
Dr. Neal Connors is currently the owner/president of Phoenix BioConsulting, LLC (www.phoenixbioconsulting.com); a company providing consulting services to the fermentation, industrial microbiology, biotechnology, and legal sectors.