Synthetic Biology

Technologies to create new organisms, including microbes and plants, with valuable capabilities for various applications.

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Synthetic biology is already transforming industrial biotechnology by developing new microbes and improving existing strains to produce target molecules and materials – presenting an immediate opportunity to engage. However, clients should monitor efforts of players to expand platforms to other applications, including microbiome development for agriculture and therapeutics.

What's New

Lux Research analysts and the Lux Intelligence Engine have added the following recent synthetic biology developments.

New Lux Content

"Does 'bio-based' matter?" and other key trends from the 2018 BIO World Congress: Lux recently presented at 2018's BIO World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology. While the event covered a wide range of technologies within the bioeconomy – from agriculture to biofuels to bio-based materials and chemicals – three key themes arose at the event:"Circular economy" over "bio-based" – Although the conference emphasizes bio-based feedstocks, the end of life of products was emphasized throughout. For example, while polyethylene furanoate (PEF) has been emphasized as a key bio-based polymer because of its improved barrier and mechanical properties over polyethylene terephthalate (PET) while behaving as a near-drop-in replacement, the furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA) panel at the event featured a lengthy discussion on the end-of-life of PEF and polytrimethylene furanoate (PTF). This challenge was especially relevant given the recent concerns over ocean-bound plastics, many of which result from PET packaging – while PEF can help reduce the amount of plastic used, if waste collection is not improved, much of this plastic will still end up in the ocean. Additionally, when Genomatica discussed its budding consortium with nylon developer Aquafil, it highlighted one of Aquafil's previously developed nylon recycling technologies.Big announcements during conference week… just not at the conference – Whereas the conference had previously been hailed as an event with major product announcements, no such announcements were featured at this year's conference. However, there were still major announcements the week of the conference: Adidas aims to use 100% recycled plastics by 2024; Starbucks and McDonald's partnered to develop recyclable and compostable cups by 2021; and China and the EU signed an MoU for circular economy development. These announcements signify progress of sustainable materials overall, but apart from the Starbucks and McDonald's partnership, do not show growth for the bio-based materials space.Government organizations were applauded for their role in funding and connecting the bio-based industry... except the U.S. – The conference featured a number of breakout sessions led by government representatives that focused on the landscape of bio-based developments in their respective regions. Other than an announcement from the Australian state of Queensland that it would fund a $78 million program to aimed at developing a high-value resource recovery industry, little new information was disclosed during the pre-prepared presentations. However, the hour dedicated to audience-driven panel discussions revealed some interesting points and overall sentiment. The EU's Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU) initiative was generally applauded for taking a world-leading role in providing the funding, networking, and market access necessary for early-stage bio-based technologies to succeed. Though its session was significantly less attended, Canada's National Research Center (NRC) was also commended for its progress in increasing the funding and support for its various bio-clusters aimed at further valorizing the nation's expansive lumber industry. In stark contrast to the optimism displayed at these sessions was the frustration levied at the USDA and its push of the BioPreferred initiative. Those in attendance complained that the U.S. government needs to substantially improve its sustainability education program for consumers (partially by significantly increasing the volume of its social media campaign) and, most importantly, directly involve brand owners and distributors and facilitate partnership networks.The bio-based industry's overall shift toward emphasizing circular economy practices was well reflected in this year's sessions at the BIO World Congress; however, the major announcements made separately bring into question its status as a platform for such reveals. With 2019's location set in Iowa to highlight the U.S.'s largest ethanol-producing state and the lack of notable new information presented this year, the BIO World Congress is no longer a "must-attend" conference for those in all parts of the industry, though the many companies in attendance still present a good opportunity for networking, establishing business relationships, and judging the overall mood of a sector. Clients may want to wait for a 2019 attendee list to judge if the conference will be worth attending.

Beta Renewables: Sugars from biomass using steam explosion and enzymatic hydrolysis

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