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Heterogenous biocatalytic reaction cascades training network

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - INTERfaces (Heterogenous biocatalytic reaction cascades training network)

Reporting period: 2020-01-01 to 2021-12-31

Bio(catalytic) products present in our everyday life are currently obtained from waste- and energy-intensive processes. In INTERfaces consortium we work on design and development of green processes using the tailor-made materials and tailor-made enzymes that overcome negative aspects towards the synthesis of chemicals and offer more sustainable solutions at a commercial industrial level. The INTERfaces MSCA-ITN-EID trains 14 early-stage researchers (ESRs) in cutting edge research projects on (i) design of materials for enzymes, (ii) design of enzymes for materials, and (iii) defining a road-map for the industrial implementation of (bio)catalysis using the designed materials and enzymes. A industrial PhD program allows in-depth training in two complementary working environment, further strengthened by a transferable skills training with strong industry participation. 13 Non-academic partners ranging from high-tech SMEs to large producing companies and 9 academic institutions offer an intersectoral and interdisciplinary environment to provide 14 Ph.D. candidates with outstanding employability profiles for the European Biotech Sector. Dedicated workshops and well-balanced supervisory team aim at increasing the gender diversity in biotech research.
After the recruitment of 14 highly talented young scientist, the first phase of the projects was dedicated to the establishment of the experimental systems and the experimental proof of the reaction concepts. The ESRs showed remarkable progress and established several new systems for (bio)catalytic synthesis of industrially relevant bio-based monomers that are interesting for polymer industry and pharma industry. Secondments at the industry beneficiaries and intensive discussions at project meetings with participants from the private sector allowed a clear orientation of the research for innovation and technical implementation. The balanced industry and academia structure of the project offered a framework to conduct highly interdisciplinary research at the interface of (bio)catalysis and process engineering.
The results of INTERfaces are expected to contribute to promote biocatalysis as an environmentally-friendly method for the chemical and pharmaceutical industry. INTERfaces EID has created an interdisciplinary discussion and idea exchange platform thanks to the academic secondments to the well-established research laboratories. The holistic way of handling the design and development of heterogeneous biocatalytic systems needs the combination of materials science, protein engineering, organic chemistry, biocatalysis and process engineering. An important aspect of INTERfaces is the intensive interaction with the private sector, which is crucial to convert inventions to innovations. The first phase of INTERfaces produced demonstrations that are disseminated in different platforms, conferences, and public activities. In the second phase, we expect that the interdisciplinary and intersectoral collaboration will lead to patents that are currently under discussion. In addition, we have currently publications under preparation or under revision and hence more scientific outcome will be obtained in the upcoming period of INTERfaces. The interdisciplinary research and the intensive interaction with the private sector are highly positive aspects for the training of 14 talented ESRs as it will provide them with scientific and transferable skills required to work successfully in a highly dynamic, interdisciplinary, intersectoral and international field and to bring new reaction concepts into the producing industry.