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J.Craig Venter Carries BIO into the Second Half of its Pacific Rim Summit

December 11, 2013

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will join Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus on a media call to announce a new Department of Navy Farm to Fleet initiative. Secretary Vilsack and Secretary Mabus will highlight the benefits of advanced biofuels to create jobs in rural America and to ensure a dependable, domestic fuel supply for our nation's military.

The conference call for the Navy/USDA biofuel procurement announcement was originally scheduled for Tuesday, December 10, 2013 but was cancelled due to a snow storm in Washington DC. The conference call is now scheduled for Wednesday, December 11, 2013 at 3:45pm EST.  Visit the USDA site for further details.

Sapphire Energy

On December 10, 2013, Sapphire Energy announced in a press release a strategic joint development agreement with Phillips 66 to commercialize Sapphire Energy’s renewable crude oil, called Green Crude, for wide-scale oil refining. This agreement marks a major milestone for refiners to utilize renewable, low-carbon sources of oil from algae biomass.


On December 10, 2013, Novozymes and Monsanto Company announced a long-term strategic alliance to transform research and commercialization of sustainable microbial products that will provide a new platform of solutions for growers around the world.  The BioAg Alliance is unique in the industry, bringing together Novozymes’ commercial BioAg operations and capabilities within microbial discovery, development and production with Monsanto’s microbial discovery, advanced biology, field testing and commercial capabilities.


On December 11, 2013, Braskem and Genomatica announced an agreement for the joint development of commercial process technology to make bio-based butadiene from renewable feedstocks.  Braskem is the world’s leading producer of biopolymers and the world’s third largest producer of butadiene. Under the agreement, Braskem anticipates providing significant funding of Genomatica’s development work over several years; will allocate significant Braskem R&D resources; and fund the construction and operation of pilot and demonstration-scale butadiene production plants using the process.

BIO Pacific Rim Summit Day Two

Tuesday, December 10, 2013 marks the second day of BIO’s 2013 Pacific Rim Summit on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy.  BIO began day two with a CEO spotlight featuring Joel Cherry, President, Research & Development, Amyris, Lee Edwards, Chief Executive Officer, Virent, Kirk Haney, President and CEO, SG Biofuels and James Levine, President & CEO, Verenium.  The panel was moderated by Paul Zorner, Operating Partner, Pegasus Capital Advisors and addressed such topics as cracking into the big brand marketplace, taking algae feedstocks commercial, creating viable long term renewable chemical contracts and using synthetic biology to pave the way for new molecules.

Verenium provided attendees with a first-hand look into the barriers a small company faces as it strives to attain commercial technology.  Joel Cherry of Amyris discussed how his companies’ investment in its engineering system for biology has led to successful production of products that serve as a great replacement for petroleum.  SG Biofuels provided an overview of its unique technology which allows for the conversion of wild plants into useable crops, demonstrating another amazing example of the latest innovation in industrial biotech.  Lastly, Lee Edwards of Virent touched on his companies’ liquid fuels, hi-octane technology and the hurdles that the company must overcome to bring this technology to a commercial scale.

Next, attendees broke into workshops that called for specific and focused discussions around several high-level issues.  Topics included Developing an Effective Workforce for Emerging Technologies in Industrial Biotechnology, presented by UC San Diego and Blue + White = Green? Exploring Marine Biodiversity and Bringing Sustainable Solutions to Industry, presented by Verenium.  Additionally, attendees had the option to participate in a workshop presented by Lifetechnologies that explored Advances in Algal Synthetic Biology TechnologiesLastly,BIO hosted a workshop titled Policy Outlook: 2014 – Make or Break for Advanced Biofuels and Renewable Chemicals, moderated by its very own Matt Carr, Managing Director of the Industrial & Environmental Section.

BIO’s keynote speaker, J. Craig Venter, Founder, Chairman, and CEO of the J.Craig Venter Institute; Founder and CEO of Synthetic Genomics, Inc. delivered exclusive remarks drawn from his second published novel, Life at the Speed of Light: From the Double Helix to the Dawn of the Digital Life.   Mr. Venter spoke on his journey through the continually evolving field of industrial biotech, discussing his work on sequencing the human genome to his working creating cures and solutions through advancements in synthetic biology.

The second day of Pac Rim ends with two notable track sessions, one titled Processes Leading to Commercialization and another, Biosynthetic Pathways to Desired Renewable Chemicals.  Moderated by Atul Thakrar of Segetis, Processes Leading to Commercialization consisted of Sue Hager, Myriant Corporation, Marcel Lubben, DSM, and Jayant Sawant, Praj Matrix - The Innovation Center.   Atul Thakrar opened the session with a wonderful discussion on addressing market opportunities for renewable chemicals and the importance of investor involvement.  Sue Hager of Myriant outlined the companies’ succinic acid production platform and how it has served as a route for feedstock in high-value markets.  DSM greatly outline five steps to successful commercialization – winning feedstock, matching funding with business model, location, good business partners and de-risk. Lastly, Jayant Sawant addressed titers, shale gas, downstream gas, feedstock availability and the emergence of a new value chain to create the best possible commercialization route for your business.

Moderated by Sunil Chandran of Amyris, Biosynthetic Pathways to Desired Renewable Chemicals was paneled by Liu Shuangping, Jiangnan University, Lisa Dyson, Kiverdi and Jianmin Xing, Institute of Process Engineering, CAS.  Sunil provided a great overview of Amyris’ sugar to Farnese platform and potential bottlenecks in the pipeline the company may encounter.  Liu Shuangping addressed systematic level engineering of E. Coli.  Lastly, Kiverdi showcased the companies’ technology which converts inorganic carbon into oleochemicals to form all gas microbes.    

This year’s Pacific Rim Summit on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy is taking place from December 8-11, 2013 at the Westin Gaslamp Hotel located in San Diego, California.  It is being co-organized with biocom.

The Pacific Rim Summit is the original conference dedicated solely to the growth of the industrial biotechnology and bioenergy sectors in North America and the Asia-Pacific region. Industrial biotech covers the application of biobased tools to traditional industrial processes and the manufacturing  of biobased products including fuels, chemicals and plastics from renewable feedstocks. The evolution of our ability to manipulate microbial genomes has revolutionized the field of biotechnology and produced a rapid increase in innovation for industrial uses.