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 October 25, 2019, Iowa State University’s (ISU) Vice President for Research, Dan Kirkpatrick, announced that Sundeep Vani, Ph.D., has joined the team as the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for Biobased Products, a newly created role. Announced in an ISU press release, Dr. Vani’s role will be to serve as a conduit between research and industry. Dr. Vani will work closely with the Biobased Product platform leader, Brent Shanks, his team, and the Iowa Innovation Corporation (IIC) CEO. Identifying promising emerging technologies and facilitating their development into market scale will also be at the top of Dr. Vani’s list of priorities. Dr. Vani stated that he is “excited to join Iowa State in this mission to grow Iowa’s economy through the state’s overall Biosciences initiative.” His addition to the team is partially attributed to Iowa’s legislature in July 2019 granting the university $825,000 in fiscal year 2020.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.

On October 16, 2019, the University of Surrey, United Kingdom, announced that its researchers have partnered with colleagues from France, Germany, and Spain to start working on a new technique to tackle plastic waste. According to the university’s article, this novel technique may revolutionize the recycling industry. The plan is to create engineered microbial communities that will digest two types of plastic polymers -- polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and polyurethane (PU) -- and transform them into molecules that can be used to develop a more environmentally friendly material called Bio-PU. This more environmentally friendly material is often used as a construction and insulation material.

According to the University of Surrey, current physical or chemical methods to degrade PET and PU are inefficient. Impurities in PET polymers and high energy costs associated with the high temperatures required to break down the material make its degradation very difficult. Similarly, degradation of PU is limited due to the difficulty in breaking down urethane bonds in the material. Given these challenges, University of Surrey Senior Lecturer in synthetic biology Dr. Jose Jimenez highlights that “[m]oving away from the reliance on single use plastics is a positive step; however, the problem of how we deal with current plastic waste still needs to be addressed.” Hence, the project will investigate the ability of microorganisms to digest plastic waste and turn it into a more environmentally friendly material that can be recycled.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On September 30, 2019, DOE’s Smart Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs Office announced the opening of applications for Cohort of Innovators through October 31, 2019. Three DOE National Laboratories are accepting such applications: (1) Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) Chain Reaction Innovation; (2) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) Innovation Crossroads; and (3) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBL) Cyclotron Road program. Each of the programs recruits a cohort of entrepreneurial scientists and engineers from around the world for two years. The goal of the programs is to allow innovators to mature their ideas until they can align with the most suitable commercial partners to take their technology to scale. Selected participants will receive a two-year fellowship, which includes a stipend depending on education and experience, along with health insurance and a travel allowance. Research funding and access to research facilities, equipment, and expertise are also provided, accompanied by a startup curriculum and a community of peers. The startup curriculum includes intensive entrepreneurial training, mentorship, and networking opportunities. Again, applications are due by October 31, 2019, and can be found in the National Laboratories’ respective websites: ANL, ORNL, and LBL.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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