Report from BIO World Congress

May 20, 2014


Mike Guggenheimer, President & CEO of RSC Bio Solutions

I always enjoy the opportunity to step away from the real-time work servicing our business and our customers to engage with peers and upstream technology companies deeply invested in Industrial Biotechnology. To that end, I had the chance to attend and speak at the BIO World Congress event last week in Philadelphia, Pa. Unlike many of the market segment-based trade events we participate in, events centered on biobased chemistry bring together players deeply focused on this technical area. You will find passionate professionals in many places, but in these events, people are driven by a sense that they are truly saving the world.

At RSC Bio Solutions, we share a passion for building a better, more sustainable world, but we tend to be much more focused on solving downstream user problems than I usually encounter at biotechnology conferences, where much of the energy is devoted to novel molecules, optimum feedstocks, pilot processing facilities and the like. I believe we are approaching a meaningful tipping point—a point that I am beginning to notice more and more at events like BIO World Congress. There is still the usual excitement around new sustainable chemical building blocks, but now I sense a meaningful shift in the dialogue towards building sustainable businesses. Companies are announcing new partnerships with brand owners, not just capital providers; case studies are presenting commercial solutions, not just drop-in chemistry to replace the petroleum analog; and more and more, the applications are proven in the field, not just in the lab. Of course, this is the natural evolution as new technology evolves, but you can see it happening.

We have been bombarded in the news recently with alarmingly high atmospheric CO2 levels and disturbing reports about polar ice melting. It often feels like we are paralyzed with the sense that the problem is too big, too nebulous or too complex for any one person or one company to solve. At RSC Bio Solutions, we are constantly reminding ourselves that this is a journey. We have much work to do over many years. So, we are dedicated first and foremost to solving problems for our customers, who are fighting right now just to survive in a very competitive environment.

The exciting takeaway for me last week was the realization that the industrial biotechnology industry seems to be getting better at translating technical advantages of biobased chemistry into value for end users. This helps them compete better now and also fuels a new wave of growth and innovation for biotechnology that will be a positive step towards addressing the larger challenges in the future.

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