Contributed by Ann Lee-Jeffs, Program Manager; David Constable, Director; Christiana Briddell, Communication Manager, ACS GCI; and Steve Rochlin, co-CEO, IO Sustainability
The bio-based chemical industry is emerging as an important player in achieving a more sustainable future, contributing to the circular economy, and addressing the challenges of the 21st century. A growing sector, the U.S. bioeconomy is estimated to be worth $369 billion, employing 4 million Americans either directly or indirectly according to recent USDA report . A wide range of companies are involved from global corporations to innovative start-ups to many major brand name companies, as well as an ecosystem of supporting organizations, trade groups, government agencies and academic research centers.
Over the past year, the ACS Green Chemistry Institute® has been conducting in depth research to evaluate the challenges and opportunities of the bio-based technology value chain. After interviewing over 50 stakeholders representing over 30 organizations from academia, government, NGOs and business, the responses made it clear that there is a significant unrealized potential here. On the positive side, stakeholders are finding that new bio-based and renewable chemical products are making progress in competing based on performance and price for existing applications, while offering expansions into novel and innovative applications.
However, to compete with existing, petroleum-based technologies on an even playing field will require the bio-based sector to substantially scale-up production. Doing so will require overcoming several key technical challenges—among the most notable being the need to enhance the effectiveness, and related costs, of feedstock conversation.
In addition, the industry needs to overcome obstacles such as a lack of awareness and interest by chemists and formulators, inertia in purchasing behaviors, feedstock consistency, improvement in quality performance, and price pressures. Establishing an empirical foundation for the industry’s claims of delivering superior environmental performance is another key area. In short, from research and development all the way to consumers, the organizations needs to break down silos and actively collaborate to build a thriving, competitive, high-performing, and sustainable industry.
The New Roundtable
With the launch of the Biochemical Technology Leadership Roundtable (BTLR), the ACS GCI seeks to provide a forum for pre-competitive industry collaboration. Building on our successful roundtable model, the BTLR will be uniquely devoted to catalyzing and enabling the bio-based and renewable chemicals economy by promoting the underlying science required for the development and implementation of bio-based and renewable chemical technologies.
The scope includes technologies used to produce chemicals and products through biological transformations of bio-based and renewable materials, e.g., from bio-based feedstocks such as crop biomass, oil seed plants and algae, but also other renewable sources such as waste carbon dioxide and methane.
The Biochemical Technology Leadership Roundtable is now open for membership and two companies, Lanzatech and Intrexon, have already committed to becoming founding members.
“Supportive frameworks will help get new technologies to commercial scale in a shorter time frame,” says Jennifer Holmgren, CEO of LanzaTech. “LanzaTech is now 10 years old, a relatively mature company in the field of the bio-based economy, and we hope that our experience in this space will serve future members well as they bring their technologies to market.”
Intrexon, a company offering biological transformations with their Better DNA™ across many sectors, including health, energy, food, environment, and consumer products, sees value in the Roundtable, “BTLR will help us increase awareness and foster adoption of these transformative, bio-based technologies.”
Once the Roundtable forms, companies will identify key, pre-competitive levers to advance member company success and work collaboratively. Areas of potential collaboration identified by the stakeholder survey include:
- Identification of key research enablers to reduce the costs and improve performance of feedstock conversion/transformation
- Development of a credible scientific database regarding scientific trends in the field for businesses that supports commercialization, standards setting, and policy
- Promotion and advancing scientific forums in the field to enable robust best-practice sharing and benchmarking
- Identification of opportunities to support promising scale-up efforts in the field
- Development of tools and methodologies to inform the design and use of bio-chemical and renewable chemical technologies
- Enhancing global collaboration among companies to increase the accessibility of green chemistry and engineering expertise by:
- Utilizing the ACS GCI network of international affiliates and researchers
- Sharing best practices among our members
- Educating and influencing current and future leaders on the field’s business values and scientific merits.
If you are interested in learning more, you can find the BTLR business plan, FAQs, and one-pager on our website . Companies interested in evaluating membership should contact Program Manager, Ann Lee-Jeffs .
The Roundtable will be officially launched for membership at the Advanced Bioeconomy Leadership Conference taking place in Washington DC this week. The BTLR will be presented in a panel with Jack Bobo, Senior VP and Chief Communications Officer, Intrexon; Dr. Jennifer Holmgren, CEO, LanzaTech; Ann Lee-Jeffs, Green Chemistry Program Manager, ACS Green Chemistry Institute®; with moderation by Steve Rochlin, co-CEO, IO Sustainability.
Keywords: biochemical; bio-based; renewable; biotechnology; supply chain; green chemistry; sustainability
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