"Advanced biofuels, biobased chemicals and the bioeconomy in general will develop at a slower rate if incentives and legislative support aren't provided."
Cefic is the forum and the voice of the chemical industry in Europe. Cefic is a committed partner to EU policymakers, facilitating dialogue with industry and sharing our broad-based expertise. They represent 29,000 large, medium and small chemical companies in Europe, which directly provide 1.2 million jobs and account for 14.7% of world chemical production. Based in Brussels they interact every day on behalf of members with international and EU institutions, non-governmental organisations, the international media, and other stakeholders. This week our editor Luke Upton spoke to Andreas Kohl, Head of Research & Development Biotechnology to share his thoughts about what we can expect from the bio-based industry in the future and the important role that legislation has at influencing market forces.
Luke Upton (LU): What led you to your current role?
Andreas Kohl (AK): Being a chemist by training, I developed a taste for the use of biological tools in chemistry early, first in the field of biocatalysis and later through modern molecular biology and protein engineering. I was always more interested in new methods and fields than looking in detail into only one specific area. This quality, in combination with the clear aim to develop products, best explains why I ended up in industry and not in academia. Once becoming established in industry, the interest to constantly learn made it easy for me to transition from my first job in protein engineering into a role in project management. This was followed by a coordination role for biotechnology and biobased chemicals in Clariant, again followed by a role as head of an application development unit. I am currently working back in R&D as Head of R&D Biotechnology Clariant.
LU: What do you enjoy most about your role?
AK: Working with bright, motivated people on challenging projects with high impact is a constant motivation for me. In addition, my current role as Head of R&D Biotechnology allows me to explain to my two children what my work entails. I work on future solutions for our society so that we can all enjoy the years to come, support a growing population and even increase the standard of living for as many people as possible.
Cefic will be attending this year's Bio-Based Live Europe conference held at the University of Amsterdam. Find out more from our key speaker Dr. Flavio Benedito, Innovation Manager, Research and Innovation, European Chemical Industry Council - Cefic.
LU: What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the European Chemical Industry’s bio-based/sustainable industry and why?
AK: The Chemical Industry in Europe - as well as globally - faces challenging goals, especially because of its self-set sustainability and the general CO2/climate goals our societies have agreed on. To achieve these objectives, I am convinced we need to develop new technologies, solutions and products for existing and novel markets, e.g. advanced biofuels and chemicals. These novel technologies and products need to have the support of our societies on a global, European, country and local level to incentivize their development and introduction into the markets. A possible solution to support this movement on a European, country or local level are e.g. tax incentives, funding initiatives and new forms of collaboration in public as well as private partnerships.
LU: What single change would help develop the bio-based/sustainable industry further?
AK: Clearly, the industry needs stable and reliable legislation in combination with targeted support actions. We will only be able to solve the above mentioned challenges in a predictable environment. Only a predictable environment will enable transforming investments into assets, which are clearly needed in the biobased industry. In my opinion, advanced biofuels, biobased chemicals and the bioeconomy in general will develop at a slower rate if incentives and legislative support aren't provided
LU: What role do trade associations such as Cefic or European Technology Platforms such as SusChem have in addressing this challenge?
AK: Trade associations such as Ce
fic and the technology platform SusChem are important for the industry as a forum to exchange and mobilise the entire industry. The political framework is increasingly important as is public awareness. Cefic and SusChem build a bridge between politics and industry. Two worlds that are quite different in nature. They are also an important channel to address the general public and communicate technology, which becomes increasingly complicated for the average citizen to understand.
LU: Where would you like to see the European Chemical Industry’s bio-based/sustainable industry in 5 years’ time?
AK: I would like to see advanced biofuels and biobased chemicals as a firm part of a large number of markets and well established in as many applications as possible. They should develop from niche to norm.
A portfolio of solutions and technologies will help us to increase sustainability and achieve our climate goals. I am convinced that advanced fuels and biobased chemicals will play an important part in the future broad portfolio of options.
LU: What is your favorite bio-based/sustainable product aside from your own product range?
AK: Besides Clariant’s own product developments, e.g. Glucotain and sunliquid, I expect an increasing number of advanced and biobased building blocks to become available in the next couple of years. I particular like new, so far unavailable lipophilic compounds and new biopolymers. They will have the power to increase the sustainability of industrial, home and personal care products.
LU: What advice would you give for someone starting work in the sustainable/bio-based industry?
AK: My first and most important piece of advice to people starting in any field is that you need to be passionate about what you do. Particularly in the field of the biobased industry, you need to stay exceedingly curious and eager to find new solutions. You need to be willing to work in a product oriented and challenging environment. Obviously, a solid state of the art education in combination with a sound understanding of business will be the groundwork for your successful career in this industry.
Our last 5 minutes with... 5 minutes with... Dr Pattanathu Rahman, Chairman and Director of TeeGene.
Bio-Based World News will bring this 5 minute feature to our readers every week. This will able to put a face to the brand and provide established businesses and new start-ups the crucial advise they need in this industry. If you would like to be interviewed about your own bio-based/sustainable business then please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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