The meeting aims to engage scientists from Brazil, Australia and Germany in joint projects

UNESP | 01.10.2019 | Marcos Jorge

From left/top to bottom/right: Robert Henry (UQ), Volker Sieber (TUM), Carlos Vergani (UNESP) and Mauricio Bacci (UNESP)

Approximately 90 researchers from Brazil, Germany and Australia attended the UNESP’s University Council auditorium on September 30th for the opening of the 3rd Global Alliance on Bioeconomy Symposium. The meeting, the result of a partnership established by UNESP, the University of Queensland (UQ) and the Technical University of Munich (TUM), runs until October 4th. The idea is to engage researchers from the three institutions and encourage them to establish academic and scientific partnerships.

The trilateral agreement that created the Alliance was signed in July 2018, during the first edition of the Bioeconomy symposium, held in the city of Straubing, in Germany.

After first day of activities, at São Paulo, the researchers headed to Ubatuba, at the coast of São Paulo State. During a four-day schedule of activities, they are invited to present and discuss current projects and opportunities for cooperation. The event was made possible due to a joint call published in 20018 by Fapesp and the Bavarian University Center for Latin America (BAYLAT).

Perspectives in Bioeconomics

The lectures that opened the symposium set the tone for the activities that will take place in Ubatuba: while addressing the perspectives and challenges of Bioeconomics in different regions of the globe, the presentations also brought information about opportunities for funding research projects.

The willingness to establish and strengthen partnerships was a common ground for all three university representatives. In his presentation, Professor Volker Sieber (TUM) pointed out that in Europe there are still several countries with discreet performance in Bioeconomics, stressing the importance of pooling efforts. “Strategies for bioeconomics are very diverse in Europe. One of the great challenges for us is to bring together actions in different fields to bring positive results in this area”, professor Sieber said. The researcher also reminded the contribution that Bioeconomy can bring to several Sustainable Development Goals.

Director of the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture & Food Innovation (QAAFI), Professor Robert Henry (UQ) stated that Bioeconomics can also be relevant in the context of climate change. “Climate change adaptation is what we have been doing in recent decades in Australia. Currently, much of our focus on research has target mainly on mitigating its consequences”, professor Henry stated. Supported by a line graph and metric statistics, the Australian scientist reinforced the ideia that Bioeconomis – and most of its areas – is a trend in research, having its scientific production boosted significantly in recent years.

Currently, the Center led by professor Henry conducts researches that focus on three main objectives, the production of higher value-added food for export, the development of healthy products and the study of non-food products, specially fuel.

Professor Carlos Vergani is UNESP Chief of Staff and the Brazilian representative in the first Symposium held in Straubing, in 2018. During his presentation, professor Vergani discussed some of the challenges that will be imposed to the Bioeconomy field, mentioning, for example, the production of food for a growing population. This scenario, he states, will require producers to apply technologies in the field. Vergani remembered the “Próalcool Programme”, a Brazilian initiative to phase out automobile fuels derived from fossil fuels in favor of ethanol produced from sugar cane that boosted research on biofuel. Nowadays, sugarcane production in Brazil is well recognized by its technology, its bioproducts and the self-sufficiency in eletricity consumption.

Developments and collaborations

Part of the opening meeting was dedicated to present opportunities in Brazil and abroad to foster future joint research projects that may arise from the dialogue between researchers gathered in Ubatuba.

Professor Maurico Bacci, Associate VP for Graduate Studies, highlighted the opportunities offered by UNESP under the CAPES-PrInt program and the participation of the University of Queensland and the Technical University of Munich among the institutions the will form a network of partner universities, as part of a call published by UNESP in the beggining of 2019.

The CAPES-PrInt is a program created by the Brazilian federal agency focused on promoting the internationalization of Graduate Programs. It aims to increase the academic and social impact of the science produced in the country during the next four years. The program allows funding in various modalities, such as Visiting Professor, Doctorate Sandwich, among others.

The several initiatives of the federal agency was the subject of a presentation by Professor Heloisa Candia Hollnagel, General Coordinator of Scholarships and Projects at the CAPES International Relations Directorate. Ms. Hollnagel presented a history of the agency’s role in stimulating the internationalization of the country’s Graduate Programs and showed the results achieved by the Brazilian universities in the last years.

Representing Fapesp, the Sao Paulo State Funding Agency, Professor Sergio Queiroz presented possibilities that the organization offers to collaborate specifically with companies. The goal, professor Qurioz states, is in the development of products with high technological content or new processes. To achieve this goal, the Agency provides two initiatives: the Technological Innovation Partnership Research (PITE) and the Research Centers in Engineering (CPE).

The event also had a presentation by Raizen’s representative, Marisa Aparecida de Lima Coral. Raizen is among the largest private business groups in Brazil, integrate all the stages of the production chain, from the cultivation of sugarcane to the production and sale of sugar and ethanol, the generation of bio-energy, and fuel distribution. The company’s share in the Brazilian market and the impacts of 2nd generation ethanol technology were among the topics presented to the researchers.