Emerging technologies

OECD Workshop on Biotechnology for Environment in Future: Science, Technology and Policy


This workshop was held in Rimini, Italy on 16-17 September 2010 during the 14th International Biotechnology Symposium and Exhibition, Biotechnology for the Sustainability of Human Society, 14-18 September 2010 (click here for more information)


Rimini Workshop Agenda and Presentations

Context of the Workshop

Most major industrialised economies have presented significant stimulus packages, many of which contain specific elements focused on innovation-led “green growth”. The recent financial crisis has provided additional incentive to boost innovation-led “green growth”. Environmental applications of biotechnology are general purpose technologies that might underpin such innovation and there is a clear opportunity – and need – now to ensure that policy measures in place are optimal in fostering developments that truly deliver on “green growth”.

There is broad consensus that Environmental Biotechnology has significant potential in such areas as:  environmental remediation, especially to clean up heavy metals and chemicals; pre-treatment for chemicals or fuels to reduce the presence of certain harmful compounds; wastewater and water purification and for waste management and bio-monitoring; delivery of value added biomass and more potentially far reaching applications such as carbon sequestration and many other environmentally friendly biotechnologies.

Apart from difficulties encountered in industrial application phase, one of the most difficult phases of Environmental Biotechnology R&D is when the research moves from confined laboratories to an environmental setting, particularly when living organisms – or consortia of organisms – are involved. In many cases such applications involve naturally occurring organisms, in other cases they may be modified.

Purpose and Objectives of the Workshop

The overall goal of the workshop was to understand the framework conditions that govern innovation in environmental biotechnology with a view to identifying and addressing inefficiencies. Workshop participants included experts from industry, government, academia and international organisations, and non-governmental organisations. The workshop was designed to:

  • Identify and summarise key areas of promise for environmental biotechnology R&D related to possible innovations in applications (including those that are unconfined) through the analysis of case studies;
  • Identify and summarise the main factors of the policy environment in key OECD and non OECD countries across the whole innovation pipeline that could be said to provide incentives or disincentives to carrying out environmental biotechnology R&D;
  • Insofar as possible, making a preliminary assessment of the relative influence of such factors on the development of environmental biotechnology R&D;
  • Identifying a range of issues and options of work that OECD could address better to understand the challenges to improving the efficiency of innovation in this sector.


Expected Outcome 

The expected output of the workshop would be a policy report focused on main findings of the workshop discussions and a number of case studies analysed at the workshop. The policy report would address the issues related to the Environmental Biotechnology R&D. It is expected the workshop would help define the way forward for improving delivery of innovation-led green growth through environmental biotechnology.


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