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Tuesday, September 22
4:00 PM
Meet the BIO IMPACT Award Winners

We're closing BIO IMPACT Digital with fireside chats with our award winners, who are driving sustainable solutions for how we build a more resilient world in the face of unprecedented global health and climate challenges.

2020 George Washington Carver Award for Innovation in Industrial Biotechnology & Agriculture: Dr. Pramod Chaudhari, Executive Chairman of Praj Industries Limited

2020 Rosalind Franklin Award for Leadership in Industrial Biotechnology & Agriculture: Dr. Emily Leproust, CEO and Co-Founder of Twist Bioscience.

Click here to read more about them and their work.

We also recognized Sharon Bomer Lauritsen, founder of AgTrade Strategies LLC, former Assistant United States Trade Representative for Agricultural Affairs and Commodity Policy. A past leader of BIO’s Food and Agriculture Section, she was awarded the fifth annual BIO Leadership and Legacy Award.


2:50 PM
Cleaner Air in a Post Pandemic World

The pandemic made at least one thing clearer, the air that we breathe. However, the cleaner and clearer air we are enjoying now is being brought on by an unsustainable halt to certain sectors of the economy like air travel. Here to discuss what it will take to keep the skies clean when air travel and the broader economy return to normal are:

  • Chris Tindal, Commerical Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative
  • Stephanie Meyn, Port of Seattle
  • Thorsten Lange, Neste Corporation
  • Patrick Gruber, Gevo
Gevo sponsor


Eliminating pollution. Gevo's CEO Patrick Gruber starts off the conversation by emphasizing that we have the technology now to decarbonize travel—both in cars, in the air and on the sea—using biotechnology. Gruber notes, that biotech gives companies like his the power to make clean-burning fuels from a variety of sustainable hydrocarbon feedstocks like crops and ag waste.

A crisis like no other. Neste's Thorsten Lange notes that the current climate crisis is like no other and sustainability in air travel should be the top priority. In 2019, Neste had already been able to reduce its customers' GHG footprint by 10 almost million tons through renewable diesel and renewable aviation fuel.

And with compounding factors. As the Climate Program Manager at the Port of Seattle, Stephanie Meyn warns that the fires raging on the west coast are having a profoundly negative impact on the climate crisis making sustainable aviation fuels even more important. She is tasked with developing strategies to meet the airport's climate goal of reducing emissions by 100 percent by 2050.  


"We have to monetize it." In a question about the policy needed to drive adoption of sustainable fuels, Gruber notes that there must be "solid metrics" and measurements and there must be incentives. He highlights California's low carbon fuel standard and the European Union's renewable fuels policy as catalysts for the industry.

The "flight-shaming" generation. Lange notes that the sustainable fuels sector requires investment and, fortunately, the investment community is taking a vested interest in sustainability. He begins by noting that consumers' behaviors, like flight-shaming, are driving this trend. 

"We're preventing the next generation from carrying the burden of an environment you can't live in." - Thorsten Lange

"Perpetually on the verge." In a question about progress on an LCFS in Washington State, Meyn notes that State Rep. Fitzgibbon is leading efforts to pass such a program again this year. Despite efforts year over year, the state is the only one on the west coast without such a policy.

To hear more about sustainable aviation fuels and the policy it will take to advance the industry, listen to Alternative to Flying Dirty from the I AM BIO Podcast


2:00 PM
Biobased Manufacturing: Success Stories

From fashion to function, how are companies finding success in biobased manufacturing? 

Let's hear from the experts:

  • Joel Stone, MS, President, ConVergInce Advisers, Moderator 
  • Mark Brodziski, Deputy Administrator, Rural Business-Cooperative Service, USDA
  • Michael Saltzberg, PhD, Global Business Director, Biomaterials, Dupont Corporation
  • Christophe Schilling, PHD, Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder, Genomatica, Inc.
  • Puneet Trehan, Material & Innovation Development Manager, IKEA of Sweden AB

What’s the secret to success?

Making sure the entire value chain - from upstream to downstream - has a common goal, says Trehan.

Understanding the value proposition and economics of the process is also key, adds Schilling. "Whether it’s a new material or a new source of an old existing material, the economics really matter."

And while companies are thinking about the entire value chain, it’s especially important to focus on formulation and applications development, says Stone.

Sometimes a material can be created and repurposed for another use, so listen to the customer and be flexible and nimble in order to find the best value, adds Saltzberg.

Development is a long process with many factors, so finding partners is also key, says Schilling.

When working through development, it’s also important to keep in mind the USDA BioPreferred Program and grant opportunities, Brodziski adds.


12:00 PM
Synthetic Biology: Fact or Fiction

Is synthetic biology fact or fiction? Let’s turn to the panel of experts to find out: 

  • Kathryn Sheridan, CEO, Sustainability, Moderator 
  • James LaLonde, Head of Microbial Business Area, Inscripta
  • Matt Lipscomb, PHD, CEO, DMC, Biotechnologies, Inc. 
  • Martha Marrapese, JD, Environmental and Regulatory Parter, Wiley Rein LLP
  • Zach Serber, Chiefs Science Officer, Founder, Zymergen 

Learn the Lingo - What is Synbio?

Synthetic biology (Synbio) is “the application of engineering principles to biology to make things it normally wouldn’t - either in a manner or a material,” says LaLonde. It’s on the “frontier of biotechnology and is constantly changing,” adds Marrapese. 

Synbio is part of the key to fulfilling the promise of the bioeconomy, says Serber, but beyond having an economic value, it also has the ability to solve real-world problems.

Okay, so what’s all the hype about?

Big promises are being made and critics are raving, could synthetic biology really be a factual situation over fictitious exploration?

YES, says the panel.

Aspiration is what drives the sector forward, says LaLonde. The industry isn’t promising things it can’t deliver - just look at Zymergen’s innovative HYALINE electronic, for example. It’s all about avoiding the hype and educating the public while developing a business model, engineering biology, and developing products that benefit the world.

P.S. “How do we make science cool again?” asks Kathryn Sheridan in the closing thoughts.

How about sharing your story on I am BIO and showing just how cutting-edge and innovative biotechnology company employees are!

10:50 AM
Pssst! It's National Voter Registration Day!

We interrupt your regularly scheduled BIO IMPACT Digital programming to remind you that it's National Voter Registration Day.

Biotech Votes -

With 42 days until Election Day, it's a great day to check your voter registration status, request a mail-in or absentee ballot if you need one, and make a voting plan.

Biotech Votes is our initiative to drive voter turnout in the biotech industry.

Visit to learn how to register and get all the information you need for November 3, including information on the candidates and issues that matter to the industry.

10:00 AM
A conversation with USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has led the way in growing America’s bioeconomy and championing innovation throughout agriculture.

With USDA having set its sights on stimulating innovation to increase U.S. agricultural production by 40% while cutting its environmental footprint in half by 2050, developing biology-based technologies to enhance cultivation and food production and produce sustainable fuels, renewable chemicals, and biobased products will be necessary to achieving this goal. 

Brian Brazeau, President of Novozymes NA & VP of Bioenergy, led a conversation with USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue to talk about the innovation agenda and how biotech will help feed the world, among other topics.

COVID-19 has exposed challenges in our food and agricultural supply chains, said Brazeau. 

"The resilience of the American food supply to a large degree is dependent on the miracle of innovation for the last 90 years, of which biotechnology was a huge part of that. So frankly, we were in a position of resilience coming into it," responded Secretary Perdue.

Many people get their food outside the home, and much of the supply chain was designed for industrial food, he continued. USDA and the industry needed to pivot to respond, but they did so successfully.

“Overall, just like American ingenuity and innovation and biotechnology, I think we responded very well.”

“The American public has a much better appreciation for the food supply chain than they may never have had before,” said Secretary Perdue. “It just doesn’t start with the farmer,” he continued, it starts with biotechnology and the biotech industry’s inputs.


USDA’s Agriculture Innovation Agenda

Thanks to agricultural innovation, we have 400% more food production on 10% less land, said Secretary Perdue.

He thinks we’ll see “food as medicine” soon—food that “addresses the individual, specific dietary needs to make us healthier.”

“Food is the delivery mechanism for a healthier America, a healthier world.”

Biotechnology is also driving “precision agriculture,” which can “make a better crop more efficiently with less inputs.”

“I have such a difficult time understanding” EU’s response to biotechnology, he added.


We need to have rules and regulations that incentivize that kind of innovation, he added.

The importance of transparency

"We've got a proud story to tell in American agriculture," said Secretary Perdue, noting the industry has "a great story to tell" regarding safety, nutrition, affordability, and sustainability of our food. 

"We need to tell the story proudly and loudly about the tools that we're using."

We missed the boat on GMOs, which are very much misunderstood, he continued. 

"The more we know about biochemistry [and] soil health...we're learning how to do more with less."

I'm totally confident that through biotechnology and our great producers out there we'll be able to feed those 10 billion people by 2050," he concluded.

9:30 AM
Driving a Zero-Waste Economy

With the population growing, demand for food is also growing, putting resources under enormous pressure. And this, of course, leads to more waste.

To talk about how we can reduce the waste from our food and packaging and promote biobased alternatives that contribute to a zero-waste economy, Joanna Dupont-Inglis, Head of EU Affairs for European Bioplastics, is leading a conversation with these bioeconomy changemakers:

What does zero-waste mean?

For Simplot, it means less food waste. Americans throw away 3 BILLION pounds of potatoes every year. However, Simplot uses gene technology to make their White Russet potatoes that brown and bruise less, so there’s less food waste.

Danimer Scientific develops 100% biodegradable bioplastics. (Learn more in this recent episode of the I AM BIO Podcast, featuring Danimer's Chief Marketing Officer Scott Tuten.)

How do we get biobased packaging to the consumer?

Speakers agreed on the importance of educating consumers and policymakers.

Chinnawat Srirojpinyo said PTT MCC Biochem, an “upstream producer” of compostable plastic, has partnered with schools in Thailand to teach consumers at a young age about how these bioplastics can be recycled.

Learn more about bioplastic alternatives.

Vegware is collaborating with a variety of stakeholders: cities as well as hospitals, museums, and waste haulers. They are having collaborative discussions to design organic collection systems, rethink contracts and regulations of these materials, and hold events to demonstrate how to compost the packaging.

Industry also needs to collaborate with large brands, said Danimer’s Croskrey. “Working with them can drive scale in our industry.” This allows the industry to then work with the government to promote the industry and make adoption easier.

“Education, education, education,” said Simplot’s Cole. Biotech needs to educate policymakers to help them understand that we’re trying to bring “safer and more sustainable products to the marketplace.”

The industry has done a good job of speaking with a unified voice, and now there’s a clearer path to get products to the marketplace with USDA’s Part 340 rule. (Learn more about it at

“As an industry, when we come together, good things happen,” continued Cole.

Is public perception changing?

Yes, said Danimer’s Croskrey. Consumers are demanding more sustainable products now compared to a few years ago.

Evidence: Danimer’s biodegradable straw has a higher retail price than traditional plastic straws, but is selling 8x faster at Walmart, he said.

“It shows you that the consumer is aware of what’s going on with renewable products.”

8:45 AM
Virtual Tour Experience: Future of Nutrition: Enzymes, Plants, and Food

During the virtual tour entitled Future of Nutrition: Enzymes, Plants, and Food, BIO IMPACT Digital delegates got a chance to walk through the renowned Novozymes and North Carolina State University's Food Innovation Lab.

At Novozymes, attendees got to see the full production process from fermentation to quality control.

At NC State's Food Innovation Lab, attendees learned about the cutting-edge research conducted in the labs.

The tours were followed by a brief panel with:

  • Dan Jenkins, Regulatory Strategy Lead at Pairwise
  • Jason Garbell, Senior Director, New Business & Alliance Management at Novozymes
  • Bill Aimutis, Executive Director of North Carolina University’s Food Innovation Lab

moderated by Paul Ulanch, Executive Director of Crop Commercialization at North Carolina University Biotechnology Center 


“I liken this current stage of Agriculture and Nutrition to Ag 3.0."

"Ag 1.0 was the discovery of propagating plants and domesticating animals," said Ulanach. "Ag 2.0, commonly referred to as on the green revolution, focused on calories as first steps to fighting hunger, while Ag 3.0 goes to that next level. It provides a deeper dive into what is involved in human nutrition, including plant-based proteins."

Consumers like “new” and they like a variety and access to fresh food. With new advances in ag technologies and biologicals, it's easier for new innovations to enter in the marketplace, explained Pairwise's Dan Jenkins.

On nutrition awareness by large agri-business: “We are going to see a tie in of nutrition from breeding programs to the plate. There will be unique opportunities for animal and plant breeding and processing that liberate nutrition and make foods better for everyone," said Dr. Bill Aimutis, Executive Director of North Carolina Food Innovation Lab.

"North Carolina, in particular, is in a position to be the leading state in the country as far as food and nutrition technology.” 

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