Overcoming hurdles for innovation in industrial biotechnology in Europe Italy Workshop Report

Overcoming hurdles for innovation in industrial biotechnology in Europe Italy Workshop Report

Main topic: Regional profiles
Document / search engine: Overcoming hurdles for innovation in industrial biotechnology in Europe Italy Workshop Report
Framework project: The Industrial Biotech Research and Innovation Platforms Centre - towards Technological Innovation and solid foundations for a growing industrial biotech sector in Europe
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Website link: http://industrialbiotech-europe.eu/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Italy-workshop-report.pdf
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The fifth BIO-TIC regional workshop was held at the Castel dell’Ovo, Naples, Italy on 24th October 2013 and brought together 15 participants to discuss the potential for IB, to identify hurdles and enablers,
and to suggest novel mechanisms by which IB uptake could be facilitated in Italy. Italy has an excellent research base in biotechnology and has several innovative companies within the IB space including Novamont, M&G and ENI. Nevertheless, links between academia and industry are weak and are compounded by a lack of funding, mechanisms for joint research and ideological gaps. Academia is perceived by industry as being too focussed on the development of new technologies whilst academics believe that focussing too much on industrial needs stifles innovation. Collaboration between academia and industry needs to be encouraged: It was suggested that this could be achieved by the clustering of expertise through an industry-driven organisation, the development of a joint IB strategy and the development of a joint industry – academia Ph.D. programme to help overcome ideological barriers.
There is a crucial need to improve the quality of biobased products whilst concomitantly lowering the price. Developing new products needs better funding; however, while Italian SMEs are doing much innovative research in this area they tend to work more with academia as developing collaborations with industry is more difficult. It is difficult to find companies to invest in this area; however it was felt  that large companies have a crucial role to play in boosting the development of new IB products as they can manage the loss and risk associated with new product development. The development of partnerships between enterprises should be encouraged especially to identify and invest in new processes to overcome bottlenecks in new product development. It was suggested that industry should focus on the production of chemicals rather than biofuels, and that the use of shale gas will have a positive effect on bio plastics industry, as shale gas produces no C4 to C6 products. Feedstock is a limiting factor for the development of IB products, both in terms of local availability and fluctuations in cost. More broadly, it is questioned whether there is enough feedstock to replace fossil fuel feedstocks and whether they can be made available cheaply enough to allow for the expensive transformation process to products. The development of feedstock-flexible biorefineries from a project’s outset was suggested as a potential route to help reduce costs and the use of waste materials such as orange peels. Nevertheless, there may be some logistic and economic problems related to the use of waste materials such as a lack of standards for biomass waste.
The public’s awareness of IB needs to be raised so that the premium price tag associated with bio based is less of an issue. Clear messages on the benefits of IB need to be developed, for example by demonstrating health and environmental benefits, especially in countries such as Germany where there some negativity about bio based products. Regulations can help promote customer awareness of IB products by sending clear messages on the need for specific products. However, in Italy, policy is currently too fragmented and there are too many different messages.


Countries/regions described/represented: Italy
Year: 2014