GLOBAL: New biotechnology partnership

The United Nations International Development Organisation has launched a new partnership to jump-start the creation of new biotechnologies. The International Industrial Biotechnology Network will aid research institutes, industry and regulatory bodies to develop new innovations that can boost future sustainable industries.

The IIBN aims to expand the use of biological resources in different sectors by finding new applications for biotechnology techniques and processes designed for a particular industry but potentially useful for other business sectors. UNIDO is appealing for public research institutes, universities, companies and regulatory bodies to join the initiative, to help them forge collaborative ventures on specific topics.

"We need to create strong linkages between agriculture and industry and the importance of applying science and technology to agricultural production processes," said Kandeh K Yumkella, director general of UNIDO, who co-hosted the launch of IIBN in Vienna with the Institute of Plant Biotechnology for Developing Countries at the University of Ghent in Belgium.

IIBN will receive EUR1.25 million (US$1.65 million) as seed money over the next five years from the Flemish Ministry for Innovation, Public Investment, Media and Poverty Reduction. It is hoped that future members of the network will contribute to ensure its long-term sustainability.

"In order to ensure their financial viability, partners are required to provide co-financing," says George Tzotzos, head of the UNIDO biotechnology programme. "Co-financing is mandatory to ensure that all participating entities share ownership of the projects thus ensuring their financial sustainability."

"Recent phenomenal scientific and technological advancements allow us to tap into the economic value of hitherto under-utilised or unexplored biological resources through the identification of novel compounds of industrial interest and the incorporation of components of biological material into high-value commercial products in food and food supplements," he added.