May 15, 2019

The Biointelligence Competence Center is gathering momentum

White Paper on biointelligence submitted to the relevant ministries – joint press release from the Universities of Stuttgart and Hohenheim, together with the NMI in Reutlingen and the Fraunhofer Institutes IPA, IGB, IAO, IBP in Stuttgart

Since the beginning of the year, 40 representatives from renowned research facilities in the Stuttgart region have been working together at the Biointelligence Competence Center to design the paradigm shift of Biological Transformation. The first Biointelligent Products and Production – the Sustainable Industrial Revolution conference took place on the 15 May, where the scientists from the “Biolintelligence Competence Center” submitted their appeal to politicians. The White Paper on biointellligent value creation describes the uses of biointelligent systems and explains why they are an essential part of a sustainable future. 14 institutes from the University of Stuttgart were involved in this.

“The question that we need to answer is: how can we sustainably meet people’s needs in terms of living environments, diet, health, consumer goods and energy at a global level? We are entirely convinced that the Biological Transformation is the key to tackling future challenges, alongside digitalization”, says Professor Ralf Takors, head of the Institute of Biochemical Engineering at the University of Stuttgart. At the “Biointelligence Competence Center” 40 scientists from the Universities of Stuttgart Hohenheim, the NMI in Reutlingen and the Fraunhofer Institutes IPA, IGB, IAO, IBP in Stuttgart are working together to give the Biological Transformation more momentum. They are researching in diverse fields, such as mechanical engineering, biology, biotechnology, medical technology, architecture, nutrition science and computer science, with the common aim of developing sustainable forms of production and a way of life that is worth living.

The Biological Transformation means increasing the use of materials, structures, processes and organisms of living nature in technology. This systematic application of knowledge about biological processes leads to the increasing convergence of production, information and biotechnologies, with the potential to fundamentally change our way of life.

The term sustainability is currently associated with ecological losses and limitations. By developing new concepts and innovations, the Biological Transformation intends to make sustainability more commercial and attractive. The potential of the Biological Transformation has proven itself to be extremely diverse – from structural innovations, to the modernization of German corporate and education culture, all the way to a sustainable economy. One just needs to tap into this potential.

According to the scientists in the White Paper, wide-sweeping implementation demands long-term support measures. Important components are the research and development of basic technologies, such as bioinformatics, system biology, information technology and biosensor technology, bioprinting, additive production with biointelligent materials or cell and tissue engineering. A more differentiated societal and interdisciplinary discourse must also be encouraged, because the topics are often of ethical relevance and have conflict potential.

Types of interdisciplinary qualifications and vocational training are of paramount importance, because an adaptable, multi-disciplinary form of training is seen as important for the success of the Biological Transformation. The aim must be to reinforce basic technologies in view of transformation processes, in order to secure German companies a leading position in the future.

What needs to be done? – Propositions from the competence center’s White Paper
Our generation needs to ensure a radical, structural transformation that also includes sustainable value creation. The Biological Transformation will make a valuable contribution to ensuring Germany’s continuance as an important industrial and business location. It also provides an excellent opportunity to implement innovative, sustainable value creation. From the perspective of the Biointelligence Competence Center, the following propositions are paramount for the successful development of biointelligent value creation in Germany:

  • Germany is currently not a pioneering force in many relevant fields of biointelligent value creation (including the application of artificial intelligence for the development of new recyclable materials and active substances, the translation of biotechnological innovations into commercial applications, etc.). This is not least due to comparatively restrictive legislation and limited access to risk capital. In order to ensure that the connection to other nations is not lost, it is extremely important to give scientists room to maneuver and to create platforms for interaction with businesses. Company founders who play an important part in transforming ideas into marketable products should be supported by the removal of bureaucracy, easier access to capital and improved social security.
  • The Biological Transformation is a massive challenge. If Germany wants to become a pioneer in this field, it is important to immediately implement interdisciplinary flagship initiatives, to develop a common political agenda and to establish regional competencies and transfer centers. Research centers are asked to bundle their expertise and enter into interdisciplinary partnerships. Companies need to position themselves strategically in this innovative field by creating an interdisciplinary personnel structure – particularly in the fields of research and development – in order to gain new perspectives.
  • The Biological Transformation will influence elementary human needs (health, diet, living environment, consumer behavior, energy), which could cause some uncertainty within the general population. Acceptance by the general populace is a crucial success factor. Arguments for and against certain alternatives need to be developed in the form of civil dialogue and information campaigns in public discourse.
  • Paramount to the long-term success of the Biological Transformation is a wide and fundamental knowledge of science, technology, information technology, and in the fields of social science and humanities. This is necessary during vocational training and in research and development. In the past, Stuttgart, as a center of teaching and research, has conducted very convincing preparatory work, for example by integrating engineering and science research projects into study programs. Building on this will ensure the success of a sustainable Biological Transformation.
  • The Biointelligence Competence Center sees biointelligent value creation as a unique opportunity for Germany to implement a positive vision as a pioneer in this field that not only enables the economy to build on existing competitive advantages, but also guarantees sustainable development. The timely formulation of a political agenda is crucial to establishing a balance of power that will ensure that citizens, industries and research fields to work together on this important topic.

The Biolintelligence Comeptence Center’s White Paper was presented at the first Biointelligent Products and Production – the Sustainable Industrial Revolution conference to representatives of relevant parties from the State Ministry and the ministries for the environment, economy, research and agriculture.

 

Contact
Press contact: Dr. Birgit Spaeth, +49 711 970 - 1810, birgit.spaeth@iff.uni-stuttgart.de
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