In many parts of the world a knowledge-based bio-economy is emerging using eco-efficient bio-processes and renewable biological resources to create new value chains. These innovations are enabled by unprecedented advances in biotechnology offering new technological solutions for sustainable agricultural development and the production of food, feed, fiber, energy and improved health care from renewable biomass or underutilized biological resources.

The 2017 IIBN Forum of may 10th brought together experts in the area of biotechnology who will address the industrial chain from innovation to the market side. The focus is to promote value creation beyond food production to support sustainable development in Africa and other developing countries.




(presentations can be consulted by clicking on the title)


Perspective UN Industrial Development Organization
Yvonne Lokko – United Nations Industrial Development Organization, Austria


Can Genetically Modified Crops Contribute to Food Security & Sustainable Agricultural Development? Evidence from 20 years of impact research
Matin Qaim – University of Göttingen, Germany


Glycosylation as a Major Deciding Factor in Biopharmaceutical Expression System Choice
Nico Callewaert – VIB-UGent Center for Medical Biotechnology, Belgium


Plant-Made Pharmaceuticals and Biomaterials: Novel Industrial Processes & Products Relevant to Developing Countries
Yuri Gleba – Icon Genetics, Germany


Oxitec – From a Laboratory to a Factory
Amandine Collado – Oxytec, United Kingdom


The Innovative Biobased Economy in Europe: Value, Partnerships & Investments
Dirk Carrez – Bio-based Industry Consortium, Belgium


GFBiochemicals, the Engine to Valorize Levulinic Acid & Derivatives for or Society Today & Tomorrow
Rudy Parton – GF Biochemicals, Italy


Synthesis of Specialty Carbohydrates using Industrial Biotechnology
Wim Soetaert – Inbiose, Belgium


The Role of GlobalYeast in the World-Wide Transition to a Sustainable Biobased Economy
Johan Thevelein – GlobalYeast, Belgium


Concluding Remarks
Marc Van Montagu – International Plant Biotechnology Outreach, VIB, Belgium


download final program HERE



Auditorium Fiers-Shell-Van Montagu
VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology
Technologiepark 927
9052 Gent-Zwijnaarde



  • Dr. Silvia Travella, International Plant Biotechnology Outreach, VIB
  • Dr. Sylvie De Buck, International Plant Biotechnology Outreach, VIB
  • Dr. Marc Heijde, International Plant Biotechnology Outreach, VIB
  • Em. Prof. Dr. Marc Van Montagu, International Plant Biotechnology Outreach, VIB
  • Mrs Vanessa De Bauw, International Plant Biotechnology Outreach, VIB



2016 Advanced Course

Banana research in Africa: modern breeding techniques, regulatory and biosafety issues

19-30 September 2016

This course aims at Africans engaged in banana improvement programs including as well scientists, regulators and lawyers to train them (1) in modern breeding techniques, (2) on how to collect relevant and reliable data to perform risk analysis and (3) how to communicate their scientific results and goals.

The program will give an overview of the most important banana diseases and how to address them through breeding as well as biotechnological approaches. The program continues with an overview of regulatory and risk assessment principles relevant to the African region. The participants will also obtain more insights in the metabolomics of banana, bioinformatics methods and banana processing. Finally, there is a two day workshop on how to communicate research findings and goals to a non-scientific audience and the public at large. The sessions will be interactive, including group work, presentations and discussions. The program also includes visits to confined field trials and local farmers.

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IIBN 2015 forum

Towards a Generic Market for Genetically Modified Crops - Potential for Emerging and Developing Economies


19 June 2015 Ghent, Belgium


Genetically Modified (GM) crops were commercially cultivated on over 180 M Ha in 2014 by both small and large-scale farmers. Since 2012, over half of the GM crops are cultivated in emerging and developing countries. Commercialized GM crops are protected by Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and governed by comprehensive (inter)national biosafety regulations. The US patent on one of the first and most widely used GM crops, Roundup Ready soybean, recently expired. IPR on additional GM crop products will expire in the (near) future, thus opening the prospect of a GM crop ‘generics’ industry. The patent expiration of transgenic events will create an opportunity to expand the offering and access of certain GM crops at a lower cost. This could become a game-changer in the agricultural sector and create new opportunities for farmers and small and medium-sized enterprises for certain GM crop products. This, in turn, could help address concerns by public interest groups related to GM crops and seed/food sovereignty. The 2015 IIBN Forum brought together leading experts in agricultural biotechnology from the private and public sector to assess the opportunity and also the conditions for creating an enabling environment for a generic GM products, in particular to support sustainable agricultural development in emerging and developing economies.


All abstracts, biographies and presentations have been released on the IPBO website.

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2015 Advanced Course

Regulatory and biosafety issues of agricultural biotechnology in the East-African region


4-13 November 2015, Entebbe, Uganda


This 10-days course aimed at East-African scientists engaged in crop improvement programs as well as regulators to train them (1) on which and how to collect relevant and reliable data to perform risk analysis and (2) how to communicate their scientific results and goals to a non-scientific audience and the public at large. This was achieved by implementing the theory with a specific example of late blight resistant potato varieties.


The program gave an overview of potato diseases in Sub Saharan Africa and how to address them through breeding programs as well as biotechnology approaches. The program continued with an overview of regulatory and risk assessment principles relevant to the East African region and ended with a two day workshop on how to communicate research findings and goals to a nonscientific audience and the public at large. The sessions were interactive, including group work, presentations and discussions. The program also included a day of visit to a confined field trail.


This course was realized with the support of IPBO, UGent, VIB, CIP, 2Blades and VLIR-UOS.

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2014 Advanced Course

Modern Breeding Techniques of Cassava


8-19 September 2014, Ghent, Belgium


The course covered the most important aspects related to modern breeding and the application of molecular techniques with a specific focus on the use of markers and their potential application in Cassava breeding (fingerprinting, biodiversity, trait mapping, crossing in specific genes and quality assurance). Legal aspects in plant breeding and other aspects of the cassava value chain were also included in the program as well as case studies using plant biotechnology for the improvement of Cassava. Following the theory a practical lab exercise was included on the use and analysis of molecular markers. In addition, field visits were organized to feedstock processing pilot plants. At the end of the course participants received a certificate of attendance.


This course was realized with the support of IPBO, UGent, VIB and VLIR-UOS.


IIBN 2013 forum

30 Years of Plant Biotechnology - A forum on Global Agriculture and Forestry


13 November 2013, Ghent Belgium


On November 13th 2013, more than 150 people came together in Ghent, Belgium, to attend the Forum “30 years of Plant Biotechnology, A Forum on Global Agriculture and Forestry”, organized by IPBO. Em. Prof. Marc Van Montagu and colleagues invited 11 leading speakers, who shared their viewpoints on priorities and action points needed to harness innovations in green biotechnology for developing economically viable and environmentally sustainable forestry and farming systems in emerging and developing countries.


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ALCUE-KBBE Matchmaking event

Science-Industry Matchmaking Event between Latin American, Caribbean and European actors of biorefineries, biobased products and bioenergy


3-7 June 2013, Antwerp, Belgium


A delegation of key actors involved in agricultural and bioeconomy development in Latin American and the Caribbean met with European counterparts in a Match-Making Event, in Antwerp, Belgium on June 7, 2013.


During the matchmaking, selected initiatives from the public and private sector from the LAC region, including investment groups, that are involved in biorefineries or renewable biomass based resources were presented, after which potential partners could discuss opportunities for collaborations. The event was organised by The Institute of Plant Biotechnology Outreach (VIB-Ugent) in the framework of the FP7 ALCUE-KBBE.


This matchmaking event was part of larger program (3-7 June; 2013) that included site visits to businesses and knowledge centers involved in different sectors of the bioeconomy in Belgium and participation in the 9th International Conference on Renewable Resources and Biorefineries (RRB9). This offered the LAC participants opportunities for networking with a wide range of international stakeholders involved in bioeconomy related RD and commercial activities.




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2010 Stakeholders Meeting: Nanning, Guangxi province, China

International Experts meet for Sustainable Development of Bio-energy and Bio-materials

1-3 November 2010, Nanning, China


From 1 to 3 November 2010, the International Industrial Biotechnology Network (IIBN) in association with the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), Austria, held a Stakeholder Meeting on bio-fuels and bio-materials in Nanning, Guangxi, China. The meeting was focused on the valorisation of (sub)tropical plants cassava, jatropha and sugarcane for clean and sustainable industrial production of bio-fuels and bio-materials. The meeting was hosted by the Government of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region together with the Beijing Genomics Institute, Shenzhen, China.

Experts from China, Belgium and Brazil examined constraints and opportunities related to developing new bio-products and to improving clean and efficient production of bio-energy and bio-materials from (sub)tropical plants relevant for the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region (230.000 km2), located in Southern China. Feedstocks used in Guangxi for industrial production of bio-energy and for the paper and pulp industries include cassava, sugarcane, jatropha and eucalyptus, which are all extensively cultivated in this region. The entire value chain from biomass feedstock to end product was evaluated with special attention to the valorisation of waste streams generated during industrial processes.

During the meeting, opportunities for cleaner industrial production of biofuels and waste valorisation were identified. In addition, the meeting identified a need to enhance R&D capacities in Guangxi with respect to plant varietal improvement as well as screening, processing and production technologies for new bio-materials. Letters of Intent have been concluded between UNIDO and the Science and Technology Department of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region as a first step towards the establishment of a UNIDO-Guangxi Biotechnology R&D Center. A second Letter of Intent between IIBN and the Guangxi Academy of Sciences was signed for the enhancement of international cooperation in the field.



Welcome to the International Industrial Biotechnology Network!

IIBN – a catalyst for South-South and North-South partnerships, connecting knowledge centers and industries active in plant and industrial biotechnology, an innovation-driven pillar of the Knowledge-Based Bio-Economy 

Established in 2010, IIBN’s vision is to combine development cooperation with innovations in plant and industrial biotechnology to help reduce hunger and poverty while conserving biodiversity. IIBN’s concept fits in a global industrial innovation process whereby plants or plant biomass is increasingly used for more sustainable production of food, feed, fibre, pharmaceutical products, chemicals and energy as a substitute for fossil-derived resources such as petroleum and coal.

IIBN is a joint initiative of the VIB-Ghent University, Institute of Plant Biotechnology Outreach (Belgium), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO, Austria), and the Government of Flanders and was initiated March 2010. IIBN was set up within the framework of UNIDO’s Programs on Resource Use Efficiency and Sustainable Agribusiness.

IIBN facilitates access to biotechnology know how and solutions for developing and emerging economies in manners supportive of their development priorities.