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CambPlants Industrial Talks

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This is a CPPS sponsored seminar

Thinking Outside the Flask… How to do something useful with algal metabolism.

Alison Smith is Professor of Plant Biochemistry in the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of Cambridge. Her research interests are focussed around the metabolism of plants, algae and bacteria, in particular of vitamins and cofactors, and more recently for compounds of commercial interest such as high-value compounds and biofuel precursors. Current projects include taking a synthetic biology approach to developing microal­gae as industrial biotechnology platforms, the role of vitamins in the inter­ action of algae with other microbes in the environment, and the use of algal cultivation for production of biomass, or waste remediation. She has interacted with industry throughout her career, from agrichemical to oil companies to small start-ups, seeking to promote ways in which her re­ search could be of use to them, and was a founding member of the Algal Biotechnology Consortium in 2007.

Specific innovations with disruptive impact in the micro algae biotech sector… and how to deal with them.

Dr Vitor Verdelho Vieira has a background in Physics from the Sciences Faculty at the University of Porto, and has worked in biotechnology projects for the last 20 years. His first biotech business started in 1989 with Necton S.A. (marine biotechnol­ogy company with commercial production and sale of microalgae for aqua­ culture and cosmetics since 1997) where he is the President. The produc­ tion system was initially based on raceways and then moved into several types of photobioreactors (plate, tubular, greenwall), growing both marine and freshwater species. He has been involved in 11European and 48 Na­ tional research projects under different frameworks and programs. He is currently the Chief Development Officer of AlgaFuel, S.A. (www.algafuel. pt), a spin-out company from Necton S.A., dedicated to the development and implementation of microalgae Production Units for C02 mitigation with production of biomass in high-emission industries. Alga­ Fuel has the largest outdoor photobioreactor in operation in Europe, which has been in operation since March 2009 and last December received a Eu­ ropean Environmental Award (www.youtube.com/watch?v=FqnS7WOaXxc). AlgaFuel is a leading partner in the two largest projects approved by the European Commission in 2010 for research and demonstration for microalgae technologies for biofuels and added value products.

This talk is part of the Plant Sciences Departmental Seminars series.

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