Speaker interview

Prof. Bo Yu, Executive Director, CAS/TWAS Centre of Excellence for Biotechnology


1. From your perspective, what are currently the most promising technologies in industrial biotechnology/bioeconomy and why?

Synthetic biology is definitely the most promising technology in this area. Synthetic biology is the design and construction of new biological parts, devices, and systems, and the re-design of existing, natural biological systems for useful purposes, which will revolutionarily change the biotechnological innovation and industrial model, accelerate the technology from lab to industry. Now synthetic biology has already promoted the technological advance in medical, agricultural and industrial biotechnology. More successful applications will be illustrated in environmental technology and biosecurity in the near future. It can be expected that more and more products will be biologically produced industrially, more economically feasibly, and that the impact of bioeconomy will grow rapidly accordingly.

2. Which value has industrial biotechnology/bioeconomy in China’s innovation policy?

In 2006, development of the bioindustry became one of the top priorities for the Chinese economy. Bioindustry has been supported by the state as one of the 7 strategic emerging industries central to China’s future. China is pursuing ambitious growth targets in the bioeconomy: the bioindustries already recorded sales of 500 billion dollars in 2015 and the goal is expected to be double by 2020. To accelerate bioindustries/bioeconomy development, the government is continuing to provide policy support for managerial improvements, strengthen intellectual property rights and offer financial assistance.

3. Which major topics are at the top of China’s bioeconomy agenda and why?

The current major topics for advancing bioindustry/bioeconomy in China may be: increasing policy support as well as strengthening innovation capacity. The abundant population, rich and diverse biological resources as well as big industrial foundations provide a broad market for the development of China’s bioindustry. China naturally has internal motivations for bio-economic development. Compared to the developed countries, more preferential policies should be formulated to further accelerate bioindustry development in China. Additionally, our innovation capacity should be further strengthened to support upgrading of the quality of bioeconomy in China, as currently, it mostly comes from traditional fermentation industries, and the contributions from other parts are not strong, although their growth is rapid.

Bo You will be a speaker in the opening plenary: “How does industrial biotechnology contribute to establishing a healthy and sustainable planet?” on 1 October, and the session: “Global perspective – How to learn from national bioeconomies in the US, Europe and Asia” on 2 October.