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Welcome to Montreal and to the 2015 BIO World Congress

July 20, 2015
Welcome to Montreal and to the 12th Annual BIO World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology.

The theme of this conference is linking chemistry, biotechnology and agriculture to create new value chains.  That is what BIO is all about – bringing thought leaders, researchers and venture capitalists together and fostering R&D and business development opportunities that will allow us to further the important goal of creating the value chains that are the lifeblood of the biobased economy.

Brent Erickson, BIO World Congress 2015

At BIO, our job is to help facilitate knowledge and tech transfer and to open up new business opportunities that will take your operations to that next level. We have an outstanding turnout this year, with more than 1,100 attendees from 45 countries. We also have more than 650 companies represented here in Montreal today. You are the reason that this event is the largest and most important international conference for the industrial biotechnology sector.

I want to thank our sponsors and supporting organizations for this event, especially those based here in Canada – BIOTECanada, the Chemical Institute of Canada, the National Research Council Canada, Réseau BioFuelNet Canada.

It is hard to believe that it’s been a year since we were in Philadelphia for this event, but, in that time, we have seen important advances and developments across our industry and around the globe.

The biobased economy is strong and growing stronger worldwide. Today, in market after market, we are seeing growing global demand for your products and a growing understanding that the work we do is the future of manufacturing and energy production.

Look at the investment we are attracting: There has been more than $6 billion invested in advanced biofuels in North America alone. There will be more than 100 million gallons of cellulosic biofuels coming online in the coming years.

All across the globe, your companies are establishing a firm foothold in the global economy, with new technologies reaching commercial status. In the U.S., biobased products already contribute $369 billion to the U.S. economy each year. The sector directly employs 1.5 million Americans and creates additional employment opportunities for 2.5 million Americans.

Biobased polymer production worldwide has already reached a capacity of 5.1 million metric tons, representing 2 percent of the worldwide polymer market.  This production has a value of about 10 billion euros. Germany’s Nova Institute estimates that this capacity will more than triple to reach 17 million metric tons in the next five years (by 2020). This is the fastest growing sector of a growing polymer market, so the biobased share of the market is expected to double to 4 percent of the overall worldwide market.

And, going forward, the rapid growth of biorefining will help enable global renewable chemical expansion. Research shows that by 2021, the global market for biobased chemicals alone is expected to increase to more than $12 billion. And as consumer demand for our products continues to grow, it is driving new partnerships, new products and exciting new applications.

Large global brands owners like Coca Cola, Boeing, Toyota, Nike, Bridgestone, Seventh Generation to name just a few understand the value and the benefits of partnering and innovating alongside your companies. This is spurring growth, investment, new jobs and exciting new biotech ventures.

World Congress itself is a reflection of the growing biobased economy and also a contributing driver of that growth by the presentations, business partnering and networking meetings you will hold over the coming three days. All you have to do is to walk the exhibit floor of this Conference or attend the breakout sessions, investor sessions or special workshops to see and feel how far our industry has come – and where we are heading.

This is my 15th year at BIO. And despite the challenges we all face to help bring new technology to market, I remain as bullish and as excited about the future of industrial biotechnology as I did on my first day at BIO. That is because of the people in this room today…Men and women who are passionate about changing the way we fuel our planet and manufacture the products we all rely on.

And BIO is going to be with you every step of the way fighting for a policy environment that encourages investment, fosters entrepreneurship and supports the commercialization of our technologies….An environment that allows our companies, and our technologies, to more effectively capture our share of an increasingly competitive $2.4 trillion worldwide clean energy market and $3.5 trillion global chemicals market.

Our vision for the future is one in which largescale biorefineries are constructed to produce multiple products, not just fuels. But beyond that we see a new wave of innovation and industrial biotech steadily increasing the number of applications in a myriad of manufacturing sectors.

Future economic opportunities will be driven by the need to address climate change, consumer trends and the economies of scale for biorefining.

Progress will not come without some challenges and bumps in the road. But if the people in this room remain involved and passionately engaged, we will transform the world for generations to come. By being here today you are creating a biobased legacy.

Thank you for your contributions and your participation in this event. Again we have a robust plenary and breakout program for you this year with the top Industrial Biotechnology leaders from around the globe. So have a fun and a productive time here in Montreal.


Brent Erickson, BIO Executive VP, Industrial & Environmental