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Challenges and opportunities facing the Green Bio sector

June 30, 2011 – Sue Hager, Vice President of Corporate Communications and Government Affairs at QTEROS/MEDC board member and Michael Raab, Founder & President of Agrivida, are co-chairs of MassBio’s Green Bio Task Force . In a Q&A they share their thoughts on the challenges and opportunities facing the Green Bio  sector.

What is Green Bio and what is its importance to the Massachusetts economy and sustainability initiatives?

“Green Bio” is a sustainable, competitive industrial biotechnology sector that is rapidly emerging in  Hagerthe United States and throughout the world. Unlike the more traditional focus of the biotechnology industry on medical innovations, Green Bio is focused on utilizing renewable, sustainable resources for the production of fuels, chemicals, materials and other industrial products that are used in making consumer products on a commercial scale. Green Bio has an agricultural basis therefore the “input” or feedstocks are often non-food based agricultural sources, like grasses and canes, which are more sustainable and environmentally friendly as compared with the current petroleum and fossil basis from which these products are currently derived. While still in its infancy, many  companies in the Green Bio industry have advanced, evolved and matured their technologies to the point of commercial readiness. These technological advances are significant as Green Bio has the potential to replace large segments of the fuel and chemical industries with agriculturally derived
products that would lower greenhouse gas emissions, chemical emissions, chemical use, and strengthen domestic manufacturing, economies, and energy security.

What are the top three priorities in the Green Bio space in 2011-2012?

Key priorities for companies in the Green Bio space are focused on enacting consistent, enduring and forward-looking federal policy that supports and accelerates the commercialization of renewable fuels and chemicals and allows second-generation “renewable” companies to compete in an
open and competitive market with its petroleum-based brethren. Specifically:

  • Continue to support the existing Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and legislation that levels the playing field for biofuels and chemicals to compete against a highly subsidized oil industry.
  • Continue to foster legislative support for biofuels, chemicals, and agriculture in the government.
  • Increase support for first market launches of economically successful products from the Green Bio space.

We’ve made some great progress with the biotechnology industry in 2007 with the Life Sciences Initiative. Are there similar steps we can take to better position the future of Green Bio in Massachusetts?

RaavMassachusetts is at the epicenter of innovation and we’re fortunate to have the opportunity to foster   and cultivate the tremendous discoveries that occur within both the prestigious public and private academic institutions across the state. While some of these innovations have blossomed to become today’s global leaders in the broadly defined renewable industry, many remain at a research stage and are limited by resources and funding. To truly grow the Green Bio industry in Massachusetts and establish state leadership on a national and international scale, the industry (and therefore the companies) requires the same level of support that the pharma and biotech industry enjoys. For example, initiatives like the MA Life Sciences Initiative, or similar, would help to support companies in the Green Bio sector and would contribute strongly to getting those companies to profitability and to a sustainable business operation. Further, we need to aggressively “market” the innovation that occurs in the state while simultaneously enacting favorable policies and regulatory standards that attract the large, multi-national corporations with the requisite balance  sheets to step-up and make the much-needed strategic investments in the sector. When this occurs, everyone wins: innovation flourishes, jobs are created and Green Bio will become a leading sector alongside the life sciences industry.

For more information on the MassBio Green Bio Task Force, contact Peter Abair at 617-674-5100 or peter.abair@massbio.org

This story originally appeared here