Biotechnology is of central importance for an economy that is to be independent of fossil raw materials in the long term. The CLIB Biotechnology Competence Center (CLIB-Kompetenzzentrum Biotechnologie, CKB) is being set up to accelerate biotechnological developments, shortening the time from conception to market entry. A joint project for a sustainable, resource-saving economy in North Rhine-Westphalia will thus be formed. The CKB is being supported by funds from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Innovation, Digitisation and Energy of North Rhine-Westphalia with a total of more than € 8 million over three years. In addition to Forschungszentrum Jülich, the Centre for Biotechnology (CeBiTec) of the University of Bielefeld, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf and TU Dortmund University are involved in the project.
“Most of the biotechnological patent applications in Europe come from NRW. Almost half of all German turnover in the biotechnology sector is generated here,” said Marianne Thomann-Stahl, District President from Detmold, when she handed over the grant approval to Bielefeld University in May 2018. € 8.34 million will now be invested in a research network with four high-performance partners. This is intended to promote development processes, to further value creation and, last but not least, to create an excellent environment for young researchers.
A response to the current global challenges and part of the research strategy of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia is to develop a biobased and sustainable economy in which renewable raw materials are increasingly used. “The Competence Center aims to establish, across locations, an integrated research infrastructure that supports and accelerates the biotechnological value chain – from gene and enzyme to process and product,” emphasises Professor Volker Wendisch from Bielefeld University who is coordinating the project.
Biotechnology is divided into different process areas, therefore it often takes longer from an idea for a product to market maturity than, for example, with new developments in information technology. In the four research centres, experts develop strategies to bring the subprocesses together. For the important life sciences and health markets, biotechnological solutions aimed at increasing resource efficiency, for example, are being researched exemplarily and implemented. “The CKB research network blends in seamlessly with the medium- and long-term concept of the Bioeconomics research focus at Forschungszentrum Jülich and strengthens the traditionally pronounced cooperation of the site’s biotechnology with partners from universities and industry located in NRW,” emphasises Professor Jörg Pietruszka, Director at the Institute of Bio- and Geosciences, Biotechnology, and speaker for the research network’s Jülich site.
The CKB will cooperate with the economy and society through CLIB2021 e. V. in particular, which is an international network with over 100 members from industry and research. CLIB stands for Cluster Industrielle Biotechnologie e. V. (Industrial Biotechnology Cluster). The universities in Bielefeld, Düsseldorf and Dortmund as well as Forschungszentrum Jülich can draw on already established cooperations, successful joint projects and results of joint applied research and basic research.
PHOTOS: Forschungszentrum Jülich/Sascha Kreklau, Universität Bielefeld