The 14th European Forum for Industrial Biotechnology and the Bioeconomy (EFIB 2021) will take place in the city from October 5-7. Around 400 leading experts including industry insiders and politicians will participate in the event at the Austria Center Vienna, where they will discuss the chances and opportunities offered by pioneering technologies in this particular field. Clearly, the bioeconomy is already playing a key role in creating a circular, sustainable society that uses the resources at its disposal as efficiently as possible. It also has a crucial role to play in driving competitiveness and job creation.
“Vienna is a trailblazer when it comes to intelligent urban solutionS”
According to Agnes Borg, Director of Industrial Biotechnology at congress organizer EuropaBio in Brussels: “We are delighted to be hosting the EFIB conference in Vienna in 2021. It’s an outstanding location and setting in many different ways. Vienna is a lively – and forward-looking – city.” Sustainable Living and the City of the Future are among the main focus topics for EFIB 2021, both of which are areas that Vienna has been paying extremely close attention to for a very long time.
A role model for smart cities
“Vienna is a trailblazer when it comes to intelligent urban solutions, and it leads the way as far as sustainable technologies and innovation projects are concerned. The city is also home to around 500 life sciences companies,” said Borg, explaining the reasoning behind the decision to host EFIB 2021 in Vienna. But it is not just the local bio-related and biotech industry and community that is exemplary, as Borg noted: “The capital’s start-up scene and numerous academic institutions show exactly what new technologies can contribute to the development of smarter cities.”
The fact that EFIB 2021 is coming to Vienna is also down to the services offered by the Vienna Convention Bureau. As Borg commented: “We really appreciate the support from the Vienna Convention Bureau and hold its expertise in high regard. Its all-round knowledge of Vienna as a destination for meetings and events is truly impressive, and proved a great help when organizing and planning EFIB 2021.” But it was not the only institution in the city that was instrumental in bringing the meeting to Vienna. “We are looking forward to building on the fruitful partnerships with our partners on the LISAvienna platform, which is designed to promote life sciences in the city and support innovative biotech companies in Vienna,” Borg said, confirming just how well collaboration with the city’s institutions works.
Highly trained employees and outstanding quality of life
Eva Czernohorszky, Head of Technology Services at the Vienna Business Agency and member of the ARGE council, LISAvienna’s top-level committee, explained the importance of life sciences for Vienna: “In the 1990s, Vienna embarked upon a trajectory that would see it become one of the top European centres for the life sciences. In recognition of the importance of the life sciences sector, the City of Vienna designated it a core focus of the city’s economy under its new WIEN 2030 business and innovation strategy.” What do companies value most about Vienna as a research location? “Here, they have direct access to a pool of highly qualified personnel, because Vienna is the largest university town in the German-speaking world. And then there is the opportunity to collaborate with outstanding research institutions, while the unique funding and grants packages on offer make the city particularly attractive for life sciences operations,” Czernohorszky added. “Excellent quality of life and our central location in Europe are also strong arguments in Vienna’s favour.”
Combating climate change
The economic and social impact of the life sciences cannot be underestimated. Wherever there are measures to combat climate change, innovations from the life sciences sector are certain to be involved in some way. Czernohorszky: “New technical processes and products will pave the way for a more sustainable future for lots of sectors. This applies to everything from the production of detergents and textiles to manufacturing paper and pharmaceuticals. It also extends to the construction industry, which, in a growing city like Vienna, is booming and can use new materials to gradually bring the city closer to achieving its goal of a circular economy.”
Learning from each other
Virtually every area of our lives is touched by the life sciences. “In the food industry, for example, which is looking at ways to supply mankind with sustainable and healthy foodstuffs. In this process, cities are a special focus given that the majority of people now live in built-up areas due to urbanization,” explained Czernohorszky, who has high hopes for EFIB 2021 as a result. “EFIB provides a forum where experts from all of these areas can network, learn from each other and plan joint projects. This mirrors our vision of how innovative ideas can take shape and go on to be implemented successfully.”