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December 13 (Mon.) - 14 (Tue.), 2010,
University of Tsukuba University Hall

Report on the 1st Asia-Oceania Algae Innovation Summit

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The 1st Asia-Oceania Algae Innovation Summit was held at the University of Tsukuba's University Hall over December 13th and 14th, 2010 in relation to the CREST research theme "Sophisticated Utilization of Alkaliphilic Strains of Oil-Producing Green Alga, Botryococcus" (representative researcher: Professor Makoto M. Watanabe, University of Tsukuba Graduate School of Life and Environmental Sciences; CREST research area "Creation of Innovative Technologies to Control Carbon Dioxide Emissions"). The summit was jointly sponsored by its own International Organizing Committee, the University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba 3E Forum (Tsukuba Science City Network), Japan Science and Technology Agency Basic Research Programs (JST/CREST), the Algae Industry Incubation Consortium, and The Cabinet Office. There were a total of 247 participants, 75 of whom were from foreign countries.

At this summit, opening remarks from representatives of the International Organizing Committee, The Cabinet Office, the Korean Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, the Thailand Institute of Scientific and Technological Research, and the Australian Trade Commission, along with a report on the state of current activities by a representative of the 3E Forum Biomass Task Force, were followed by presentations over the course of three sessions on policy, industrial technology, and academic R&D. In the policy session, representatives from Japan's Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry, and Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries introduced each of their Ministries' research and development strategies for algal biomass. Persons involved in science and technology policy in Korea, China, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, and the Netherlands introduced their respective countries' policies on algae development. In the session on industrial technology, presentations on the current state of industrial technological development of applications for algae were given by representatives of industry from three Japanese companies and from companies in Korea, Thailand, Australia, the United States, and the Netherlands. Each of these sessions were concluded in a true symposium format with one-hour panel discussions of the various topics covered during which we were able to reach a consensus on such matters as future courses of action for cooperation and problems to be faced. The academic R&D session, not taking the form of a symposium, consisted of oral and poster presentations divided into five areas: "Isolation, Screening, Cultivation and Characterization of Algae as Next Generation Feedstock", "Physiology, Molecular Biology, and Genetic Improvement of Algae", "Chemistry and Bioprocessing of Algae for Production of Fuels and Products", "Wastewater Treatment and Algal Biomass Production", and "Large-Scale Algal Biomass Production-Design, Infrastructure, and Practice". After presentation of a synopsis of research results by CREST theme representative Professor Watanabe, 34 other presentations were made by Japanese researchers, centered on the CREST theme, and 36 topics were introduced by foreign researchers. The originality of all of these presentations occasioned lively discussions and exchanges of opinion.

We were able to announce results from the actual CREST theme to the world and hear a large number of opinions from the standpoints of science, policy, and industrial technology, making this summit very meaningful in terms of future progress in our research. Before the summit was held, the CREST theme's discovery of Aurantiochytrium, which can create hydrocarbons over ten times more efficiently than Botryococcus, made the television news. Subsequently, the summit attracted great notice and was covered in newspapers from the evening editions of the 14th through to the 16th. Summit participant Dr. Olivares from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in the United States showed great interest in this result from the CREST theme and sounded out the possibility of collaborative research on Botryococcus and Aurantiochytrium. In addition, the summit allowed us to have a round table for a lively exchange of opinions from various points of view as participants representing government, industry, and academia from each country could all meet together in one place to address a large number of issues such as exchanges of information and human resources, international cooperation, and each countries' development policies and regional characteristics. Many of the participants expressed a high opinion of the summit and its extreme significance. Dr. Yang from the U.S. Department of Energy related that she had gained new knowledge and an understanding that the current state of research in Japan is different from that of the United States. Stemming from such positive evaluations as these, it was unanimously agreed to continue holding this summit. The 2nd Asia-Oceania Algae Innovation Summit will be held in 2012 in Korea, China, or Thailand.

CREST theme research results presented at the summit will be published in the journals "Procedia Environmental Science" and "Bioresource Technology" (Impact Factor 4.25), to be put out by Elsevier, the world's largest publisher of scientific journals, in July of 2011. This will serve as another means by which this CREST theme's results can be widely shared throughout the world.

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