BioökonomieRevier-Sofortprogramm: Innolabs PlastiQuant & ProtLab

  Bioecomomy Revier award presentation Copyright: © Forschungszentrum Jülich / Ralf-Uwe Limbach Left to right: Prof. W. Marquardt (Chairman of the Board of FZ Jülich), Prof. U. Schurr (FZ Jülich), Research State Secretary Thomas Rachel MdB, Prof. U. Schwaneberg (RWTH Aachen), Dr. G. Schaumann (Sense up), and Prof. V. Sander (FH Aachen).

„From brown coal to BioökonomieREVIER “ Forschungszentrum Jülich is following this guiding principle with partners from the region in a joint initiative. Within the framework of structural change, the Rheinische Revier is to become a model region for resource-efficient and sustainable economic activity. Representatives from industry, science, politics and civil society met in Merzenich for the start of a second sub-project in the BioökonomieREVIER. The goal: A total of 15 „innovation labs" are to be set up at the interface between agriculture and science and will enable the rapid transfer of new processes from science to industry. In this way, new value-added chains and new jobs will be generated faster from scientific findings - based on the principles of sustainability. The German government is funding the BioökonomieREVIER project with around 25 million euros as part of the Sofortprogramm for structural change until mid 2021.

Within the project, stakeholders from science, business, politics and civil society are jointly developing concepts for the transformation of an entire region: from a region previously strongly influenced by the use of fossil fuels to a model region for sustainable economic activity based on a modern bio-economy. With the funding provided by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, we want to bring the bio-economy into application and thus create new products, new production processes and new jobs. The Rheinische Revier offers the best conditions for this and will be one of the cornerstones to fill the recently adopted new bio-economic strategy of the Federal Government with life. “This also supports the structural change" said Thomas Rachel MdB, State Secretary for Research, emphasizing the importance of the project beyond the region. In the first sub-project of BioökonomieREVIER Rheinland a regional strategy is being developed. Parallel to this, the innovation labs and platforms at the interfaces between science, industry and agriculture are already being developed. They should help to quickly implement the regional strategy with its focus on jobs and innovation. To this end, scientific institutions (Forschungszentrum Jülich, Fraunhofer Society, RWTH and FH Aachen) and companies (SenseUP Biotechnology GmbH and YNCORIS GmbH & Co. KG) in the region are pooling their expertise in order to implement promising technologies, processes and services of the bio-economy in a structurally effective and exemplary manner in the region. On the 21st January 2020 the second phase of the project BioökonomieREVIER with concrete pilot projects, the so-called “innovation labs" is started. The most diverse research institutions in the region, both from applied and basic research, as well as regional companies, are involved in a unique way in the consortium “innovation labs". RWTH Aachen University coordinates a total of 5 innovation laboratories (Main coordinator: Prof. Andreas Jupke, FVT, RWTH Aachen): DeMoBio_Box, E_HyBio, UpRePP, PlastiQuant, and ProtLab. Among them, the first three innovation labs are coordinated by the Aachener Verfahrenstechnik. The Institute of Biotechnology coordinates the innovation labs PlastiQuant and ProtLab.

The topic of the innovation lab PlastiQuant is (micro-)plastic management for a circular bio-economy and micro-plastic-free food. In this Innolab, the Institute of Biotechnology (Prof. Ulrich Schwaneberg; coordinator of the PlastiQuantLab) and the Institute of Fluid Process Engineering (Prof. Andreas Jupke) come together to develop an infrastructure for the quantification, recycling and valorization of micro and nanoplastic particles. Here, an infrastructure for the high-throughput quantification of micro/nanoplastic particles, e. g. in drinking water or environmental water samples will be developed, a strain collection of adhesion-promoting polymer-degrading enzymes (up to 100 constructs) for the efficient degradation of plastics will be established and plastic recycling processes, e.g. process concepts for the degradation of mixed plastics will be jointly developed. A certification laboratory for “microplastic-free" food will be established by 2021.

The ProtLab (Prof. Ulrich Schwaneberg; coordinator of the ProtLab) focuses on tailor-made protein products and systems for plant health and digital agriculture. The background of this Innolab is to meet the research needs for adhesion promoters for the successful reduction of pesticides through tailor-made protein systems in plant health and digital agriculture. In this Innolab, new fully biodegradable solutions for low pesticide agriculture will be developed, rapid technology transfer will be enabled to exploit the innovation and job potential of the BiFuProts and greenRelease platforms developed within the BioSc framework. In addition, research in high-throughput biophysical characterization, upscaling and formulation for field trials and related monitoring methods will be carried out. It is planned to establish a startup called “AachenGreenBiotec" by 2021 and to start filing applications for approval in the region.