Title: Biotechnology for Biobased Economy: a new International graduate School structuring trans- disciplinary component as a source of disruptive innovation in education and research
As mentioned in the recent European Commission report, bio based economy or “bioeconomy covers all sectors and systems that rely on biological resources (animals, plants, micro-organisms and derived biomass, organic waste), their functions and principles (). The European Bioeconomy Strategy adopted in 2012, and updated in 2018, reaffirmed the five original objectives: (i) ensure food and nutrition security, (ii) manage natural resources sustainably, (iii) reduce dependence on non-renewable, unsustainable resources, (iv) mitigate and adapt to climate change and (v) strengthen European competitiveness and create jobs”.
Bioeconomy is therefore based on a paradigm that allows us to rethink our economic and societal model to achieve the transition from the use of fossil resources to renewable resources in order to move towards a sustainable industry. Biotechnology plays a major role over the last 50 years, not only in scientific and technological terms but also in terms of economic, environmental and societal performances. New industrial sectors have been opened up which, on a European scale, currently represent 500,000 direct jobs and four times as many indirect jobs, increasing up to 900,000 to 1,500,000 direct jobs in 2030 with a contribution of €57.5 to 99.5 billion.
These formidable challenges require a break in our current mode of training, research and innovation, in order to integrate all components of the value chain, from agricultural resources, their management and conversion, to environmental, economic, societal and ethical impacts. To this end, new training and research activities have been set up with the creation in 2020 of the Graduate School "Biotechnology for a bio-based economy" (BioEco) within the Université de Toulouse. BioEco associates 5 higher education establishments and 2 national research centers, with a budget of 37M€. Embedded in an international network of partners, it benefits from a unique synergy of inter-disciplinary skills in Life Sciences, Engineering, Social Sciences and Economics, working towards a position among the best international players. It combines training activities with collaborative research concerning the sustainable biocatalytic conversion of renewable biomass into industrial products for energy, chemistry, food and health. It includes (1) a 5-year English-language curriculum - M1, M2, PhD - with courses in life sciences, bio-process engineering, economic and environmental assessments, eco-design, management, ethics and regulations, (2) an international scientific competition, (3) summer schools and (4) lifelong education. This Graduate School BioEco as a structuring trans-disciplinary component is a source of disruptive innovation, creating links at the interfaces between established disciplinary fields and launching a holistic and systemic vision leading to innovation, sustainability and development of society