Algal Production Technologies workshop held at KAUST

Leaders from government, industry, and academia converged at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) for a three-day workshop titled, "Scaling Algal Production Technologies for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia" from November 10-12, 2013.

During his opening remarks, HE the Minister of Agriculture Fahd Balghunaim commented on the role of algae in the Kingdom and its link to food and pharmaceutical industries. He shared that the Ministry considers algae to have a promising future in the field of food security in Saudi Arabia and highlighted the importance of the workshop. "It is a noteworthy initiative that KAUST, with its impressive scientific capability, strategically aligns its research thrust to support the national agenda on food security, environmental sustainability, and economic development," said Dr. Balghunaim.

In attendance were leading international algal biotechnology companies, academics, funding organizations, and Saudi Arabian companies. Workshop participants reviewed the latest scientific work in the field, the current state of the high-tech investor landscape, mechanisms for creating and fostering partnerships in algal biotechnology, and the international view of the field in Saudi Arabia.

"Saudi Arabia is the perfect location for this research and workshop," said KAUST President Jean-Lou Chameau. "In addition to the sea on both sides, the Kingdom's commitment to advancing food security and CO2 capture provides an opportunity for significant advancements in algal biotechnology. At KAUST, we are dedicated to conducting the research needed to advance this technology and playing our role in scaling it up to create new processes and products that benefit the Kingdom and the world".

Expounding on the role of KAUST and other in-Kingdom universities, Minister Balghunaim said, "I am pleased that KAUST and other Saudi universities consider advanced research on algal production technologies as part of their scientific program, with the goal of positively impacting the Kingdom's economy through commercially viable industrial applications. Certainly, scientific research is a key to success and KAUST, through collaborative engagements and with proper support, is well positioned to mobilize talents and techniques in order to address existing knowledge gaps and achieve innovations that are vital to spurring developments in this field."

Vladimir Bajic, KAUST Director of the Computational Bioscience Research Center and chairman of the workshop said, "In addition to having a technological solution, another crucial component of establishing the algal biomass production industry in the Kingdom, is a necessity for a joint effort linking academia, industry, and the government sector. We are especially grateful for the participation of the Ministry of Agriculture and our ongoing collaborative research. Having all three stakeholder groups engaged in discussions builds momentum for renewable and sustainable technology that we believe will fully utilize the natural resources of the Kingdom."