The time suddenly seems to run faster once the last minute of the marshmallow challenge started. Nervous glances keep falling on the ticking clock. With hectic-looking hand movements, the five group tables are trying to stabilize the material. Then the acoustic signal sounds and all hands have to leave the five wobbly constructions of 20 hard spaghetti, 1 meter of thread and 1 meter of tape. Since most noodle towers, on which as high as possible a marshmallow should sit enthroned, tip over immediately, the winner team is fast detected, whose tower height measures 48 cm. After a short round of reflection, the participants have the chance to make a second attempt. And lo and behold, this time it works better. Another team wins with 66.5 cm tower height.
The mood is not only left to the winning groups, all participants have been taught by this special challenge to go into application and testing in innovative research as quickly as possible. This challenge was part of a comprehensive program around innovation in research on the occasion of the visit of an Uzbek delegation consisting of 13 junior scientists accompanied by staff from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the The mood is not only left to the winning groups, all participants have been taught this special challenge to go in the application and testing as quickly as possible in innovative research. This challenge was part of a comprehensive program around innovation in research on the occasion of the visit of an Uzbek delegation consisting of 13 junior scientists accompanied by staff from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the Uzbek Ministry of innovative development on 14 October 2019 at the Science Campus Halle.
In addition to this marshmallow challenge in the method workshop "Creative Ideation" of the Transfer and Entrepreneurship Office of the Martin-Luther-University by Moritz Bradler and Dr. Andreas Lauenroth, Dr. Anne-Laure Tissier introduced the work of the ScienceCampus Halle. Also WCH Co-speaker Professor Ludger Wessjohann did not miss the opportunity to give those present helpful tips for innovative start-ups, since he himself has successfully founded six companies. He also presented his new Humboldt Research Fellow Dr. Nilufar Mamadalieva. Only recently, the Uzbek has expanded its research department of bioorganic chemistry at the Leibniz Institute of Plant Biochemistry (IPB). Dr. Kai Kaufmann from the DENKweit GmbH also gave the Uzbek delegation a practical example of how to successfully start a business from research. DENKweit GmbH has been a Fraunhofer spin-off since September 2018 and combines innovative sensor technology with modern data analysis in the photovoltaic and automotive sector. At the final institute tour by Sylvia Pieplow and Dr. Antje Hellmuth offered further opportunities for exchange and contact mediation.
Afterwards, the WCH member Leibniz Institute of Agricultural Development in Transformation Economies (IAMO) as well as the Institute of Geology of the MLU were visited in Halle. At the end of the trip, the Uzbek participants were invited to present their findings at the InnoWeek, Uzbekistan's largest innovation fair.
The delegation had a total of two weeks with the BMBF to explore the German university and non-university research and innovation landscape e.g. in Berlin, Leipzig and Dresden. The background of this trip is the intensification of contacts in the field of innovation and research between Germany and Uzbekistan, which should lead to a joint Scientific-Technological Cooperation (S&T cooperation) in 2020. Within the framework of STC agreements, the federal government is conducting calls for tenders for bilateral research projects with selected partner countries.
The 28th of May was a memorable day in many respects: On the one side, transhal 2019, the 5th innovation day of Halle (“Hallescher Innovationstag”) which is organized by the MLU in cooperation with the city of Halle, attracted various visitors. On the other side, the Diversity Day was up on the agenda at the market place in Halle.
For the innovation day, more than 140 guests and numerous exhibitors enrolled. The ScienceCampus Halle – Pant Science Bioeconomy was also represented with a stall. A diversity of people including interested entrepreneurs, networkers, members of the university and graduates got into conversations with Dr. Anne-Laure Tissier and Ina Volkhardt from the ScienceCampus Halle, e. g. Mr. Peter Hinrichs from the Ministry of Economy, Science and Digitalization of the State Saxony-Anhalt.
Diversity was also in the focus in the city center: On the occasion of the Diversity day, two pavilions of all the Leibniz facilities located in Halle were stationed from 12am till 2 pm. The Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH), the IAMO (Leibniz Institute of Agricultural Development in Transition Economies (IAMO), the Leibniz Institute of Plantbiochemistry (IPB) as well as the Leibniz ScienceCampus Halle – Plantbased Bioeconomy (SCH) invited to participate in various activities and a handed out a variety of give-aways – because research is as divers as the persons involved.
The lecture hall at the Leopoldina is packed, with a few attendees standing up in the back. Nobody wants to miss the welcoming remarks of the 8th International Bioeconomy Conference. Professor Jutta Schnitzer-Ungefug, Secretary General of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, which is hosting the conference, refers to such global challenges as climate change, while Dr. Jürgen Ude, State Secretary of the Ministry of Science, Economics and Digitization, emphasizes the importance of an effective scientific infrastructure and the promotion of regional small and medium-sized enterprises.
“There are many opportunities to every challenge,” explains Andrea Noske, Head of Sustainable Economy; Bio-Economy at the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Receiving much applause, she adds, “The future is shaped by all of us.”
The 8th International Bioeconomy Conference is taking place on May 13 and 14 at the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina in Halle (Saale). In keeping with the motto “Bio meets Economy - Science meets Industry”, the ScienceCampus Halle and the BioEconomy Cluster Central Germany have organized the event as a way to exchange the latest research findings, innovations and current bioeconomic developments on the markets. The event is booked out, with more than 200 participants from over 15 countries attending the conference.
The partner region of this year's conference is South America - which is represented by more than 20 participants and speakers from countries such as Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Costa Rica. The aim is to present and discuss the respective bioeconomy strategies and research priorities.
The date of the 9th International Bioeconomy Conference has already been set: on JUNE 17 - 18 2020, Halle will once again welcome numerous guests for an exchange of ideas about the bioeconomy. Further information can be found at https://www.bioeconomy-conference.de
Everyones talks about bioeconomy and a biobased future – what was is that actually and how can it be explained clearly? This question was in the focus of the Think Biobased Challenge 2019, where Paul Herzig of the ScienceCampus halle – Plantbased Bioeconomy (SCH) has won the 3rd prize. The Think Biobased Challenge was addressed o students to submit their proposals for teaching and educational material. The best three ideas in each of three categories (primary, secondary and vocational education) have been awarded with prices. The PowerPoint presentation of the SCH can be seen here.
For more information on the Think Biobased Challenge, see here.
“Showcasing the Bioeconomy” – Bio-based Products and Research Highlights at Hannover Fair 2019
Visitors will have the opportunity to experience the bioeconomy’s latest product innovations and research findings at Hannover Messe. Other types of events, such as the International Bioeconomy Conference, promote the establishment of international partnerships and drive economic change towards a bioeconomy.
Nineteen research projects currently being funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) will be presented at the joint stand “Showcasing the Bioeconomy” at Hannover Messe 2019. We are co-exhibitors with our cluster partners.
Nineteen research projects currently being funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) will be presented at the joint stand “Showcasing the Bioeconomy” at Hannover Messe 2019. The project management agency Jülich, BIOPRO Baden-Württemberg and the Agency for Renewable Resources (FNR) will showcase the opportunities offered by a biobased economy and demonstrate where the bioeconomy is impacting our everyday lives. The BioEconomy Cluster will also be presenting two projects with its partners at the fair. You will have the opportunity to meet the cluster team along with other exhibitors from 9 am to 6 pm on April 1 - 5 in Hall 2, Stand 45.
The project SucroLevan will also be present. Funded by the BMBF’s “New Products of the Bioeconomy”, the project consortium is paving the way for the biotechnological production of a very pure form of levan. This interesting fructose polymer, with its hydrocolloidal structure, highly adhesive film properties and oxygen barrier has a wide range of applications, especially in the cosmeceutical sector. The network partners and cluster employees will also present the BioToM concept. BioToM-BioEconomy to Market represents the fast and efficient initiation and implementation of research, development and innovation projects (R&D&I). The bioeconomic innovation space is open to start-ups, idea providers, solution seekers and developers - regardless of whether they are start-ups, SMEs or large companies. It creates the ideal environment for the development and market launch of new products, processes and services in the bioeconomy.
Current research findings at the 8th International BioEconomy Conference 2019 The 8th International Bioeconomy Conference will be held on 13 to 14 May 2019 at the Leopoldina in Halle (Saale). It offers a further opportunity to learn more about international and innovative bioeconomy topics and research findings. A scarcity of resources means that future economic growth is only possible in conjunction with sustainable and resource-efficient production technology. But how can bio-based products be commercialized?
Precisely this question will be answered by a select group of renowned experts in SESSION 4 on May 14, 2019. Dr. Albrecht Läufer of Corvay GmbH will talk about the commercialization of a groundbreaking technology that uses extremophilic anaerobic bacteria to convert a lignocellulose raw material into lactic acid through direct fermentation without the need to add externally produced enzymes. The session will touch upon the pathway leading from the original invention to laboratory R&D and the next stage of searching for investors and conducting further development with the aim of rapid commercialization.
Bioeconomy through international networking In the run-up to the 8th International Bioeconomy Conference in Halle (Saale), a workshop on the topic “Working across sector boundaries – the opportunities and challenges of multi-stakeholder cooperation in the bioeconomy” will be held on May 13, 2019 from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm. The aim of the workshop is to discuss the challenges of cross-sector, multi-stakeholder cooperation as well as possible instruments for its promotion. Examples of good practice for such cooperation will be presented. The workshop is part of the “Biobridges” project funded by the BBI JU (Bio Based Industries Joint Undertaking) as part of the EU research program "Horizon 2020". Please register for the workshop by April 10, 2019 by clicking here.
A networking dinner will follow on the evening of May 13, 2019, which will also be held as part of the 8th International Bioeconomy Conference. Your participation will provide you with the ideal opportunity to make new contacts with industry representatives and to meet important stakeholders and cooperation partners in person. You will be able to meet renowned experts from South America at the upcoming conference, as the conference is partnering with this region in 2019.
The International Bioeconomy Conference was launched in 2012 and is one of the most important bioeconomy events in Germany. Participants of the conference will gain comprehensive insight into the possibilities and potentials of the bioeconomy and in particular the region of Central Germany. This year's partner region South America will lend an international flair. The 8th International Bioeconomy Conference will take place on May 13 and 14, 2019 at the Leopoldina in Halle (Saale).
Series of lectures at Deutsches Museum concludes with its final event
The second of three planned lectures of a cooperation of the Leibniz-Institute for plant genetics and Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research (IPK) and ScienceCampus Halle took place, which attracted numerous guests. The speech was given in the context of a series of lectures, „Wissenschaft für jedermann“ („science for everybody“) at Deutsches Museum in Munich.
The first lecture was performed by Dr. Lohwasser at the 19th of December 2018, shortly before Christmas, and started quite culinary: the speech „food of the future“addressed to conflicts around the emotional topic food and eating. Here, Dr. Lohwasser drafted a wide spectrum of the future challenges in food security between excess and scarcity. On the one hand there is a boom in innovation and 3D printing of super foods, on the rediscovery of old cultivars which form together two different tendencies. The tasting of old cultivars of cereals and pseudo cereals (in form of quinoa, spelt and buckwheat cookies) accompanied the lecture. A video of the speech you will find here.
The second lecture of Dr. Börner, which took place at 13th of March, was dedicated to the ex situ collection of cultivars of the IPK, which is one of the biggest collections of cultivars worldwide. Approximately 150,000 examples are stored here. The preserved material was collected by expeditions intended for that, which started to gather plants and seeds in the twenties of the last century up to date in various regions of the world. How to archive an preserve, to make them available to present as well to future scientists was described vividly by Dr. Börner. High technology processes are used therefore as well as classical methods like herbaria. The seeds must regularly be tested for germination capacity and cultivated, vegetative plants have to be permanently grown and preserved. This close look at the scientific and classical methods interested more than 300 guests.
At the 30th of October, Dr. Kumlehn will conclude the series with a lecture on “New methods of targeted genetic modifications in plants”. This highly charged topic, which is recently much discussed in the public due to the resonance of the media after the ruling on the Crispr/Cas technology, promises an interesting closure of the series. Registrations for the event in Munich may be made.
From protein to success. Junior research group around Dr. Nico Dissmeyer experiences numerous successes
The independent junior research group located at the IPB (Leibniz Institute of Plant Biochemistry) on Protein Recognition and Degradation, which got basic funding by the ScienceCampus Halle – Plantbased Bioeconomy, achieved success in various fields up to date. A recent article in the journal Plant Physiology describes a discovery of the scientists: A new process could enable the targeted production of proteins in plants. Certain proteins that were focused at could be produced via gene fusion. Due to the sensitivity against temperature of one of the two components (a Degron cassette), an increasing in the temperature led to a degradation and therefore to a reduction of the protein amount. This process could be inverted when the temperature was decreasing again. Arabidopsis thaliana was used as a model plant. The goal is an application of this method in molecular farming.
Another publication of Dr. Nico Dissmeyer, head of the junior research group, and his collegues drafts the results of the project PROTEOSTASIS. This pan-European network on protein homeostasis funded by the COST initiative (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) gathers more than 270 protein experts from various disciplines and from 30 countries. During the last four years, it enabled more than 50 scientists to visit other institutes, led to the creation of sub networks in certain topics and further to the founding of the International Society of Protein Termini (ISPT). More than 50 publications, 14 workshops and a number of textbooks resulted of this initiative.
The outputs of the junior research group find a positive response in the scientific community. Therefore, Dr. Dissmeyer will begin a professorship in the field of plant physiology in Osnabruck at the 1st of July 2019. Recently, he habilitated at the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg and gained the authorization to teach in biochemistry and biotechnology.
Where does the bread come from?: Girls Day at the ScienceCampus Halle
On April 27, 2017, the ScienceCampus Halle – Plant-Based Bioeconomy (WCH) exposed girls to the topic of agriculture and agricultural science on the occasion of the so-called "International Girls Day".
Maria Umann, who is a WCH scholarship holder at the KWS, explained to the 12-year-old girls in a short introduction where bread and rolls are coming from and the importance of plant breeding in agriculture. Afterwards the schoolgirls Martha and Anouk helped the master student to evaluate her barley experiment. The two sixth-graders enthusiastically examined in the greenhouse the plants for semi-sterility. This spontaneous occurrence of non-fertilized flowers is still a mystery in research. After the numerous impressions on the experimental field of the Martin Luther University, the girls could also attend a seminar about the basis of plant breeding and got to know the theory after practice.
At the Girls'Day, companies, businesses and universities throughout Germany open their doors to schoolgirls from the 5th grade. Every year the young girls learn about qualified jobs and studies in IT, crafts, natural sciences and technology in which women are rarely represented. Or they encounter female models in leadership positions in business and politics.
International research and science collaboration: commencement of cooperation with French partner organisation
The ScienceCampus Halle – Plant-based Bioeconomy (WCH) and the French research institute “L’Institute National de la Recherche Agronomique” (INRA) have met to discuss an international research and science collaboration. Representatives from both organisations met to discuss future collaboration opportunities at a meeting on 17 March 2017 at the Leibniz Institute of Plant-based Biochemistry (IPB), which was initiated by the president of the Leibniz Association and professor of engineering, Dr Matthias Kleiner.
Together with the INRA’s vice president, Dr Jean-François Soussana, common ground could be found for the improvement of the European infrastructure and integration with respect to phenotyping cereal plants, hyperspectral images, drought stress tolerance for wheat and for studying the socioeconomic aspects of innovations.
Further meetings and agreements are planned which will take place in thematic groups.
Regional Network for Global Challenges: Leibniz President visits the ScienceCampus Halle
The president of the Leibniz Association and professor of engineering, Dr Matthias Kleiner, visited the Leibniz ScienceCampus Halle – Plant-based Bioeconomy (WCH) on 17 March 2017. He was briefed on the work of the regional network which is focused on sustainable economies based on renewable raw materials. Together with Professor Udo Sträter, rector of Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU); the spokesmen of the WCH, Professor Klaus Pillen from MLU and Professor Ludger Wessjohann from the Leibniz Institute for Plant Biochemistry (IPB); and the directors of the eleven WCH member institutions, he discussed the previous collaboration between the non-university and university institutions under the umbrella of the ScienceCampus Halle. The aim of the meeting at the Leibniz Institute IPB was to develop even better opportunities for cooperation. This was Matthias Kleiner’s first visit to a Leibniz ScienceCampus.
“The Leibniz ScienceCampus Halle is a regional, interconnected research cooperation that is addressing a global challenge. The plant-based bioeconomy offers ways of satisfying our demand for food and renewable raw materials in light of increases in the world’s population and climate change. The interdisciplinary ScienceCampus Halle has enabled the Leibniz Association and Martin Luther University to acquire international recognition for the region in this future-oriented field. I am continuously fascinated by the way in which research and the ideas of our scientists can have tangible benefits,” said Matthias Kleiner during his visit.
He placed particular value on fostering junior scientists. He also took the time to speak with several up-and-coming scientists at the WCH and to exchange ideas. In the afternoon he joined the WCH in welcoming representatives from the French Institute of Agricultural Sciences (INRA) and established important international contacts with its vice president, Jean-François Soussana, to enable further successful work at the WCH.
The model “Leibniz ScienceCampus” is the Leibniz Association’s response to the often-criticised parallel existence of university and non-university research in the German research system. The Leibniz ScienceCampuses enable Leibniz institutions and the university to focus together on a specific topic as part of an equal, complementary, transdisciplinary, regional partnership with the additional involvement of other institutions and industries. Its aim is to create national and European networks in order to further develop the respective research areas and to strengthen the scientific environment and the respective regional location with regard to this topic. Currently there are 19 ScienceCampuses throughout Germany. The WCH is the largest with eleven members.
From molecule to the market: ScienceCampus Halle connects Science with Industry
The ScienceCampus Halle – Plant-based Bioeconomy (WCH) hosted its first Bioeconomy MatchMaking for small and medium-sized businesses and scientists. The event was held on 7 March in the Löwengebäude, the main building at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg. The aim of the event was to kickstart national networking opportunities and partnerships between industry and research in the area of the bioeconomy. A total of 27 scientists and companies presented brief keynote speeches under the motto “From Molecule to the Market”.
“The success of the event shows how much networking interest there is in the bioeconomy in order to advance the research and development of marketable products,” explains Professor Klaus Pillen, spokesman for the WCH. Participating companies and scientific representatives heard interesting presentations on plant breeding, crop protection, chemistry and structural development, biotech processes and sociology. They also received advice on obtaining financial support for joint projects and innovative ideas. Professor Ludger Wessjohann, also a spokesman for the ScienceCampus Halle, affirmed another advantage of the event: “MatchMaking is not only about R&D collaboration between science and industry. It’s also about direct access to specialists trained in an interdisciplinary way. Those who attended had first pick.” The WCH event was financed by the prize money from the Hugo Junkers Award for Research and Innovation which the ScienceCampus won in 2015.
From 20 to 29 January 2017 the WCH exhibited at the booth of the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft at the International Green Week in Berlin. Represented at the booth were the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research (IAP), for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology (IGB), for Wood Research (WKI) and the Fraunhofer Centre for Chemical Biotechnology Processes (CBP) which is a member of the WCH. The booth was ideally situated in the hall of “nature.tec – Fachschau Bioökonomie”. The Fraunhofer Gesellschaft and the booth of the German Bioeconomy council jointly arranged a policymaker walkabout on the topic of the bioeconomy. Parliamentarian staffers showed great interest in the WCH, as well as in the International Bioeconomy Conference.
1,614 exhibitors from 67 countries were represented at the world’s largest trade fair for the food industry, agriculture and horticulture. At total of 400,000 visitors, including 90,000 industry visitors, came to the event. The next International Green Week will take place from 19 - 28 January 2018.
Willingmann: Seminal Joint Research at the ScienceCampus Halle
On 1 November the former state secretary and now minister of economy and science, Professor Armin Willingmann, visited the ScienceCampus Halle – Plant-based Bioeconomy. The two spokesmen for the WCH, Professor Klaus Pillen and Professor Ludger Wessjohann, informed him about the new WCH joint research projects. The seven research projects focusing on sustainable management commenced at the end of the year.
The joint research projects, funded by the WCH, are devised so that their specific findings can be applied as quickly as possible, which is why an industry partner is assigned to each project. The ScienceCampus Halle had already funded five excellent joint research projects during its first funding period (2012 – 2015).
“The bioeconomy is among the leading markets of Saxony-Anhalt’s innovation strategy and the ScienceCampus makes a decisive contribution to this. Through the seminal joint research projects under the umbrella of the WCH, knowledge is created so that future social challenges can be met with practical solutions,” stated Minister Willingmann, summarising the meeting.
Open House at the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL)
The ScienceCampus Halle and the Leibniz Institute for Agricultural Development in Transitional Economies (IAMO) were on hand at the open house of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture in Berlin on 27 and 28 August 2016. Minister Christian Schmidt and the Parliamentary State Secretary Dr Maria Flachsbarth stopped at the WCH booth to find out about the work currently being conducted on the topic of the bioeconomy. Visitors were given the opportunity to find out more about the topic of the bioeconomy through compostable straw bags and violet-coloured biscuits, which were coloured by the health-promoting plant-based dye anthocyanin found in an old variety of grain. During the stage discussion, Nadja Sonntag, press officer at the WCH, answered questions pertaining to the topic of sustainable management. This was followed by a quiz on the bioeconomy at which three hand-made straw bags, made by former WCH scholarship holder Christin Mannewitz, were raffled off.
Other institutions promoted the topics of energy supply, tourism and environmental management at booths near the WCH and the IAMO. This, and a varied programme for young and old, attracted around 4,000 visitors.
What’s on your plate?: The Long Night of the Sciences
On 1 July the ScienceCampus Halle and the Leibniz Institute for Agricultural Development in Transitional Economies (IAMO) organised a bicycle cinema at the IAMO as part of the 15th Long Night of the Sciences Halle, showing the film “10 Billion – What’s on your Plate?” The audience used muscle power to generate the electricity needed to project the film onto the screen. The equipment for the bicycle cinema was provided by Postkult e.V. and enthralled the audience who promptly started pedalling in order to generate the 600 watts needed to power the projector. The film “10 Billion” by the German documentary filmmaker Valentin Thurn (“Taste the Waste”) examines the question of how a growing world population will be able to feed itself in the future. It travels the world looking for answers by speaking with industrial food producers and small farmers.
The Long Night of the Sciences, organised by Martin Luther University, numerous research institutions and the City of Halle, attracted several thousand visitors to its 340 events in 2016.
On the path towards the best of the possible worlds: an excursion to IPK Gatersleben
According to forecasts, the world’s population is set to increase to nine billion by 2050. During the same time period, however, yields on the agricultural land available worldwide will decrease as a result of climate change. This will further intensify the problem of global food security. In addition, the aspiration of doing away with fossil fuels raises the question of how ecological, sustainable food security and socially acceptable energy production can be ensured in light of these conflicting goals. The bioeconomy aims to meet these challenges with knowledge-based solutions. Genetic engineering is being offered up as one type of solution; however, it is not being perceived as such by the wider public. On the contrary, problems related to, or only ascribed to, genetic engineering, such as monocultures, seed monopolies or resistance to pesticides, lead to a strong defensive attitude among the population due to reservations and strong fears. This means debates surrounding genetic engineering are becoming less objective and rational.
In order to shed light on and objectively discuss the risks and opportunities of genetic engineering, the ScienceCampus Halle – Plant-based Bioeconomy (WCH), the Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research (IPK) and the Heinrich Böll Foundation of Saxony-Anhalt invited those interested in the topic of genetic engineering on an excursion to Gatersleben on 17 June 2016. The excursion took place as part of the theme year Leibniz 2016 with the motto: “The best of the possible worlds”. The twenty participants from different professions and age groups were highly interested and paid great attention at each stop on the excursion. After a brief welcome statement and introduction to the institute by Dr Sabine Odparlik, Dr Ulrike Lohwasser led the group into the world-famous plant gene bank. Here 151,002 samples from 3,212 species and 776 classes of plant material are stored at -18° C with the aim of preserving the plant genetic resources and using them in research. Afterwards Peter Schreiber explained IPK’s cultivation trials and reproductions in the fields. With a host of information and new impressions, and after vegan refreshments in the Casino, the Leibniz Institute’s culinary establishment, the event moved on to its discussion round. First Prof Nicolaus von Wirén made a brief presentation explaining the modern processes of plant breeding and their opportunities. Then Christof Potthof, scientific expert at the Gene Ethics Network (GeN) spoke about genetic modifications and their risks. The subsequent discussion delved into the role of plant genetics in future food and energy security as well as the genome editing procedure. Also under discussion was the contentious question of whether this molecular technique should be classified as conventional genetic engineering and how genetically modified organisms should be labelled. To round off the excursion there was a brief visit to the lab before the participants nearly missed their train owing to their keen curiosity.
Educational excursions of this kind are consequently regarded by the WCH as a very meaningful and successful way to transfer knowledge from science to the wider public. Further excursions are planned.
As shapers of their environment, humans have always been prone to interfering with nature. This has led to a worrying loss in the biodiversity of species, populations and habitats, with visible negative effects on human life. At the same time, humans create a new biological diversity through their creative actions. One evident sign of this is the large variety of crop plants that have developed over the millennia. Yet, even this diversity is endangered by changes to breeding and agricultural practices. This loss in cultivated plants is considerably less represented in the public consciousness than the loss in the diversity of wild species.
In response, the ScienceCampus Halle and the Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research (IPK) hosted an informational event entitled “The Value of Crop Plant Diversity – Yesterday – Today – Tomorrow” at the State Museum of Prehistory in Halle (Saale) on 26 April 2016. More than 120 interested participants packed the lecture hall of the State Museum that evening.
At the start of the event some of the many attendees got a chance to tour part of the museum’s permanent exhibition which offers insights into the history of the Early Neolithic Period and, hence, the history of the first farmers in present-day Saxony-Anhalt. After the tour, various talks explored the question of how important preserving the diversity of the old and new crop plants in gene banks is to our future. After a welcoming statement by the director of the State Museum of Prehistory, Professor Hartmut Meller, and an introduction to the topic by Dr Sabine Odparlik from IPK, Dr Monika Hellmund from the State Museum of Prehistory reported on the archaeobotanical finds of cereals, such as emmer und einkorn wheat. These finds have enabled changes in the spectrum of crop plants to be identified. Following this, Olaf Christen, professor of general crop cultivation and organic farming at Martin Luther University, gave a clear illustration of the reasons for the decrease in the biodiversity of crop plants today. Professor Andreas Graner, managing director of IPK and head of its gene bank department, spoke about the future of the diversity of crop plants. Those present learned about the function and importance of a gene bank in preserving diversity so that this preservation of diversity is available for future generations. At the end of the event participants had the opportunity to delve deeper into the topic through discussions over wine and barley bread.
The event served to strengthen the partnership between the State Museum, the University of Halle and IPK.
The ScienceCampus Halle – Plant-Based Bioeconomy (WCH) has been awarded with the Hugo-Junkers-Award for research and innovation from Saxony-Anhalt 2015. In the Ständehaus Merseburg Hartmut Möllring, Minister of Science and Economy of Saxony-Anhalt, presented on the 15th of December the award for the 3rd place in the category "Most Innovative Alliance". The prize is endowed with 3,000 Euros. In addition, the junior research group of the WCH by Dr. Nico Dissmeyer at the Leibniz Institute of Plant Biochemistry (IPB) also received in this year's special category "Chemistry and Bioeconomy" the 3rd place with 2,000 Euros in prize money.
"The award is credit to our previous collaborative work in the field of plant-based Bioeconomy and a good incentive for our future projects," says Prof. Dr. Klaus Pillen, co-speaker of the ScienceCampus Halle. The seven-headed and independent jury of experts from science and business of the Hugo-Junkers-Award honored with the award the inter- and transdisciplinary collaborative research of the ScienceCampus Halle. The so far unique combination of plant science and economy under the roof of the WCH takes up with the pressing social issues of our time. Existing biological resources must be used more sustainable than before through innovative methods. Here the WCH with its interdisciplinary research can help to meet these challenges. The prize money will now be used to develop an event format to integrate further potential industrial partners in the research network and to realize innovative and sustainable product ideas.
For the past 25 years, the Ministry of Science and Economy praises industry with this innovation award. With the Hugo-Junkers-Award for Research and Innovation in Saxony-Anhalt, the proficiency of innovative entrepreneurs and scientists is honored and their work is supported. A total of 74 applications from companies, universities and research institutions have been received, of which 15 were recently awarded. The competition is endowed with a total of 90,000 Euros and is awarded in five categories.