13th EuroBiotech biotechnology congress opens in Ljubljana
Ljubljana, 4 October - The 13th EuroBiotech opened in Ljubljana on Wednesday as the Slovenian capital is hosting the biotechnology congress for the first time. The three-day event will see experts discuss progress and challenges of various fields of biotechnology, which is also rapidly developing in Slovenia.
Polona Žnidaršič Plazl of the Ljubljana Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Technology, the organiser of EuroBiotech 2023, said ahead of the event that biotechnology was a promising field that addressed key challenges such as food, health, environment and energy.
Slovenian and foreign experts will thus discuss various fields of biotechnology, such as medical, food, agricultural, environmental, industrial, marine and water biotechnology, and talk about biocatalytic processes (biocatalysis).
As the event opened, Helena Prosen, vice-dean of the Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Technology, told the participants that biotechnology was developing rapidly and was considered to have very good future prospects also in Slovenia.
She singled out the pharmaceutical industry in particular as a progressive and recognisable field in Slovenia in which biotechnology is present.
"Pharmaceutical companies have definitely recognised the value of biotechnological processes and are developing them at an accelerated pace to produce medications," Prosen noted.
She added that there were many small companies in Slovenia that were active in this field, but have not yet managed to place their products in the market.
Maja Ravnikar, the director of the National Institute of Biology, sees the congress as an opportunity to raise awareness among stakeholders about biotechnology having high added value that "needs to be cultivated in order to develop the economy".
Roman Jerala, a biochemist and researcher at the Institute of Chemistry, said in his opening address that there was a lack of properly qualified staff in the pharmaceutical industry. He called for measures to make young people enthusiastic about it.
Jerala told the STA that the pharmaceutical industry was not the only well-developed field in Slovenia. "Biotechnology is also developing well in medicine, especially in terms of cancer immunotherapy and treatment of genetic diseases," he said.
He expects even greater progress in biotechnology in Slovenia in the next five to ten years. "Technologies such as machine learning, mRNA and others are being increasingly applied, which will enable more accessible treatment for patients."
EuroBiotech is hosted by the European Biotechnology Thematic Network Association, this year in cooperation with the Ljubljana Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Technology, National Institute of Biology and the University of Zagreb.