The Centre of Biological Engineering (CEB-UMinho in PT acronym) is a research unit integrated in the Portuguese Science and Technology System, located at the University of Minho. In the latest evaluation of R&D units by FCT (2014), CEB-UMinho was rated as Excellent, maintaining this grade since 2002. In 2006, CEB-UMinho was one of the founders of the Associated Lab Institute for Biotechnology and Bioengineering (IBB).
Currently, CEB-UMinho has more than 350 researchers, including 130 researchers holding a PhD degree (100 integrated and 30 collaborators), of which 23 are faculty members of the University of Minho and 5 are faculty scientists. There are also 120 PhD students, apart from a large number of researchers not applying for a degree. CEB-UMinho’s research has been developed within the following major topics – Industrial and Food Biotechnology and Bioengineering, Environmental Biotechnology and Bioengineering and Health Biotechnology and Bioengineering.
The excellence of CEB-UMinho’s research, the competences in advanced training, the competitiveness in external funding capture and the interaction with the stakeholders are confirmed: between 2010 and 2014, more than 1000 peer-reviewed papers were published (the number of outputs per FTE was above three), 24% of them in “Scopus D1 journals” and 69% in “Scopus Q1 journals”; 111 PhD theses under the supervision of CEB-UMinho integrated members were concluded; the average income budget derived from external funding bodies, including industry research income, was around 3 M€/year; more than 13 spin-off and start-up companies were launched and 19 patents conceded.
These scientific outputs justify the ambition of CEB-UMinho to be a reference research unit in Biotechnology and Bioengineering in Portugal and one of the best in Europe. To fulfil this ambition, two main objectives were defined:
- Improve the Excellence of its research, in line with the strategy defined by the EU HORIZON 2020 program, and the research and innovation strategies for smart specialization (RIS3) defined at the Portugal North region. CEB-UMinho wants to contribute decisively for the three priorities defined in HORIZON 2020 – excellence in science, industrial leadership and societal challenges.
- To be a major player in the development and translation of knowledge into the business sector, contributing for advances in Biotechnology Industry, including Food, Energy, Environment and Health sectors, and to the social and economic development of the North of Portugal.
The submitted application will contribute for the fulfilment of CEB-UMinho´s vision and objectives. This will be achieved by the research activities planned under the scope of this project and the three research lines included, namely:
o L1: The Bio-factory – Biotechnology as a key enabling technology for new processes, products and resource recovery
o L2: The Smart food factory - Smart systems for a sustainable and environmental friendly food industry
o L3: The Nature factory- innovative biopharmaceutics, medical devices, cosmetics and fine chemistry
These research lines are closely related with North 2020 Smart Specialization Strategies, and in line with the nuclear priority domains:
- Advanced production systems;
- Agro-environmental systems and food.
It also complies with the emergent domains Health and Life Sciences, Mobility industries and Environment and Sea Resources and Economy and addresses 5 out of the top 10 scientific areas defined by Norte 2020, namely Chemical Engineering, Food Science and Technology, Biotechnology and Applied Microbiology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and Environmental Sciences.
The Excellence of the scientific research developed at CEB-UMinho, with its close relation with RIS3 strategy for the North of Portugal, will be an important contribution for the Consolidation of the Regional System of Innovation (CRI).
The project aims at fostering northern bio-based-economy, by bringing value to resources, wastes and by-products, aligned with the circular economy and industrial symbiosis concepts. It is our goal to develop and make-use of green and sustainable key innovative technologies, namely industrial biotechnology and nanotechnology, to create added-value products to meet our future societal needs in health and food sectors ensuring environmentally friendly practices. CEB-UMinho gathers a number of scientific competences as confirmed by the number of papers in the scientific areas cited above, that confirm the excellence of CEB-UMinho in Biotechnology and Bioengineering and the capacity to be a key player in the research and innovation strategies for the smart specialization of the north of Portugal.