Biologists head to Sunshine Coast for annual conference


More than 200 synthetic biologists have landed on the Sunshine Coast to further explore the science that ultimately aims to underpin a thriving bio economy in regional Australia.

Supported by Visit Sunshine Coast, the ARC Centre of Excellence in Synthetic Biology’s annual conference is being held at the Novotel Twin Waters from today until December 8.

Synthetic biology relies on using waste agricultural, marine and municipal waste to convert biomass into biofuels, bioplastics and other high-value chemicals.

“For thousands of years, we have used microbes to create bread, wine and cheese,” said Distinguished Professor Ian Paulsen, the Centre Director.

Distinguished Professor Ian Paulsen.

“Now we can modify microbes in tiny cellular ‘factories’ to replace many of the products currently produced by fossil fuels.”

The Centre will be holding a tasting experience during the conference with several local food and beverage suppliers, which potentially could have suitable waste outputs that lend themselves to bio-production of new products.

“Our own Centre alone has spun out seven start-up companies in less than three years.  It’s a very active and vibrant space,” Paulsen said.

“Our researchers have been holding talks with industry in different parts of regional Australia and we’d love to hear from wineries, breweries, dairy farmers, councils or growers interested in learning more about the possibilities of value-adding through synthetic biology.”

Visit Sunshine Coast Head of Business Events Ali Thompson said the ARC CoESB conference has committed to buy 50 trees that will be planted at Cooroy.

“Sustainability is so important on the Sunshine Coast, and this conference is proudly contributing to reforestation projects here through VSC’s Sunshine Coast Sustainability Program,” she said.

“When delegates return in the future, they’ll be able to visit the site and see the trees and the positive impact they’ve made by leaving the Sunshine Coast greener than when they arrived.”