On the 22nd of May 2019 the Dutch Biotechnology Association (NBV) organised the Netherlands Biotechnology Conference (NBC-19) in the Akoesticum in Ede. Nearly two hunderd biotechnologists came together to share insights and discuss the latest advancements in technology.
The keynote speakers are divided among industry, academy and society. The first keynote speaker was Arjen van Tunen, CEO of KeyGene. KeyGene is an agro-technological company specialized in crop improvement by using moleculair technologies. ‘We are a non-GMO company and we improve crops with breakthrough innovations for instance on resistance to diseases, yield and shelf life. The same technologies can also be used for other fields, such as cancer treatment.’
Marileen Dogterom was the second keynote speaker. She is a professor and chair of the department of Bionanoscience at Delft University of Technology, member of the KNAW and recently received a Spinoza award in 2018. ‘In the Netherlands there is a research project based on Richard Feynman’s quote. Feynman famously said: “what I can not create, I do not understand. ” We are now trying to build a synthetic cell in order to help us understand how cells work. If we manage to do this, this could potentially lead to all kinds of future applications, such as building specific cells with a specific task.’
The third keynote speaker is Rosanne Hertzberger. She is a scientists, journalist and author. Hertzberger has a weekly column in NRC and wrote several books: Ode aan de E-nummers & Het grote niets. To her a room full of biotechnologist feels like coming home. ‘Food additives are a good thing. Unfortunately, the costumer’s view is different and it is often deemed dangerous. The industrial companies therefore clean up their label and mislead costumers. This leads to de-development.’
In between the plenary keynotes the NBC-19 participants could visit the parallel sessions of the NBV working groups. There were seven parallel sessions organised by Cell & fermentation technology, Microbial systems biology & synthetic biology, Green biotechnology, Young NBV, Microbial physiology, Applied biocatalysis & Societal aspects of biotechnology. The participants inspired and informed each other about a specific theme of biotechnology.
During the NBC, there is always special attention for young members. Besides the Young NBV parallel session, all 2019 iGEM teams were invited to present their first ideas via a poster. On top of that, we invited iGEM Leiden 2018 to inspire everyone with their project 50 Shades of Stress. They won best manufacturing and best model in Boston last year.
The poster award was won by iGEM Leiden 2019. A great start for their new project! The Zilveren Zandloper Innovation was awarded to Yuemei Lin from Delft University of Technology.
The NBC-20 will be on the 28th of June 2020 in Maastricht. It will be combined with the European Congress on Biotechnology (ECB2020), which take place from the 28th of June till the 1st of July 2020.