The Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG) helps members develop and bring to market their innovative biobased and renewable chemical products through insightful policy and regulatory advocacy. BRAG is managed by B&C® Consortia Management, L.L.C., an affiliate of Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On April 11, 2018, the Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU) announced €115 million in funding for the 2018 Call for proposals focusing on feedstock, process, products, and market uptake. BBI JU is a partnership between the European Union (EU) and the Bio-based Industries Consortium that was launched to develop strong European bio-based industries.  This call includes 21 topics with 11 Research and Innovation Action (RIA) topics, 3 Coordination and Support Actions (CSA), and 7 Innovation Actions (5 DEMOs and 2 Flagships) with new eligibility criteria. Topics include improving the pre-processing steps of locally sourced biomass, improving the performance of biocatalysts, and developing computational systems that model and identify improvement areas for bioprocesses involving microorganisms. The deadline for submission of proposals is September 6, 2018. More information on the call for proposals is available online.


 

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On March 22, 2018, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) announced that by studying and comparing the cellulose-degrading enzymes of two fungi, NREL researchers have pinpointed regions on these enzymes that can be targeted via genetic engineering to help break down cellulose faster.  The article published in Nature Communications, “Engineering enhanced cellobiohydrolase activity,” describes NREL’s long-running study of the fungal cellobiohydrolases (CBH) -- enzymes that use hydrolysis as their main chemistry to degrade cellulose -- Trichoderma reesei (TrCel7A) and Penicillium funiculosum (PfCel7A).  The announcement states that in both nature and industrial processes, enzymes from this family are among the most significant enzymes for breaking down cellulose; a “projected 2,000-ton-per-day cellulosic ethanol plant could potentially use up to 5,000 tons of enzyme per year, and half of that enzyme cocktail could be from this enzyme family.”


 

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On March 13, 2018, the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), a member of the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®), announced that nominations for the fifth annual Rosalind Franklin Award for Leadership in Industrial Biotechnology are being accepted.  Each year, the award recognizes an outstanding woman in the industrial biotechnology sector who has made significant contributions to the advancement of the biobased economy and biotechnology innovation.  The recipient will be presented with the award at the 2018 World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Past recipients of the award include Dr. Debbie Yaver, Director of Expression Technology, Genomics and Bioinformatics at Novozymes; Dr. Jennifer Holmgren, CEO of LanzaTech; Anna Rath, President and CEO of NexSteppe; and Vonnie Estes, Independent Consultant.  Nominations will be accepted until March 28, 2018.


 

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On February 27, 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) published its 2017 Annual Report:  User Inspired Science Transforming Lives.  The report provides an overview and examples of the many NIFA-funded research, extension, and education outcomes conducted by a broad range of partners, including academic and science organizations; small business and industry; agencies from all levels of government; and non-governmental organizations.  According to the report, NIFA relies on stakeholder input as a key driver in determining NIFA’s research, education, and extension priorities to ensure that the science that begins in the lab reaches the people who need it.  NIFA’s Bioeconomy, bioenergy, bioproducts science emphasis area supports the expansion of regional production systems for biofuels and bio-based products to foster rural economic development, mitigate the impacts of a changing climate, reduce greenhouse gasses, improve wildlife and pollinator habitat, and improve water quality and food and energy security.  In 2017, NIFA engaged in 27 bioeconomy, bioenergy, bioproducts competitive projects, which accounted for two percent of NIFA’s total competitive project funding.

Tags: USDA, NIFA

 

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On February 25, 2018, the University of Illinois announced that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) awarded a $10.6 million grant for the Renewable Oil Generated with Ultra-productive Energycane (ROGUE) project.  The project is a collaborative effort between researchers from the University of Illinois, Brookhaven National Lab, University of Florida, and Mississippi State University.  ROGUE aims to transform sugarcane and Miscanthus into sustainable sources of biodiesel and biojet fuel by engineering the crops to produce oil rather than sugar.  Researchers anticipate that the crops will achieve 20 percent oil content and produce as much as 15 times more biodiesel per unit of land compared to soybeans.  Additionally, ROGUE aims to improve the photosynthetic efficiency of the crops to ensure that the production of energy-dense oil will not lower yields or suppress plant defenses.

Tags: DOE, ROGUE, Biofuel

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded Grow Bioplastics, a University of Tennessee student start-up, a $225,000 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant.  The funding will support research and development on new biodegradable plastics from lignin.  The biobased plastic will be used for agricultural applications, such as plastic mulch.  Grow Bioplastics’ biodegradable film can be plowed into the soil after each use, offering a solution to the additional labor costs and environmental impact of current nondegradable films.  According to Tony Bova, Grow Bioplastics co-founder and CEO, the “funding will help [Grow Bioplastics] validate the fundamental science behind our lignin-based plastic technology, allow us to hire our first employees here in East Tennessee, and bring us one step closer to realizing our vision for a socially and environmentally driven business model to support a circular economy.”


 
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