Italian team with new sustainable source of natural rubber wins BISC-E 2022

Team GENAB from Italy has been crowned the winners of the 2022 edition of BIC’s European Biobased Student Innovation Challenge (BISC-E). During the final round, which was held virtually on 13 October 2022, Bisrat Bekele and Peter Sseguya presented their innovation to an online gathering of BIC members. 


The event saw five finalists take part: 

  • Valorised Carbon – Lien De Coen, Elisa Kooy, Hanne Ponnet and Waldo Capeau (University of Gent, Belgium)

  • Biocity Cowboys (Vytautas Magnus University, Lithuania)

  • GENAB – Bisrat Bekele and Peter Sseguya (University of Piemonte Orientale, Italy)

  • LignoFUN – Minu Masliha Pallikkandiyil, Jessica De Micco, Mauricio Troncoso Castellanos and Georgia Ní Fhionnaláin (University College Dublin, Ireland) 

  • and PRYNT3D Mycelium – Poorva Shrivastava and Robin ter Heide (Wageningen University, the Netherlands)

The annual competition is part of BIC’s efforts to promote breakthrough innovation in the bio-based sector between some of Europe’s most promising university students. National heats take place in several European countries before the five finalists are selected by an expert jury.

During the final round, GENAB explained why black yeast – with its low nutrient requirements and thermotolerance – would be the ideal host for the production of ectopic rubber particles. Some 70% of rubber used in the global market is synthetic and not produced in an eco-friendly way. The remaining 30% comes from natural sources, which are finite. Using a fermentation process on the black yeast, GENAB has produced an innovative, bio-based rubber product that is sustainable, economically-viable and environmentally prudent. This opens up the possibility of black yeast becoming a new sustainable source of natural rubber.

Closely following behind, in second and third place respectively were Valorised Carbon (Belgium) with their technique for producing activated carbon from fruit waste, and PRYNT3D Mycelium (the Netherlands) who are making customized orthotic insoles through 3D printing with mycelium. The other two teams that took part were Biocity Cowboys (Lithuania) with an innovative way of turning biodegradable organic waste into valuable compost; and LignoFUN (Ireland) creating lignin-based flocculants for wastewater remediation.

Head of Human Capital & Stakeholder Relations at BIC, Nelo Emerencia highlighted the fact that the scores were so close indicates the high standard of entries in this year’s competition. He also spoke about BIC’s future plans to increase the importance national BISC-E programmes and participation, in order to build on BISCE’s great success so far.

Expert jury:

  • Kees de Gooijer, BISC-E Chairman (the Netherlands) - Chairman TKI Agri&Food and TKI BBE, Wageningen

  • Markus Dettenhofer (Czechia) - Consultant with BioEast Hub, Czechia

  • Lene Lange (Denmark) - Director, BioEconomy, Research & Advisory

  • Georg Lentzen - CLIB (Cluster Industrial Biotechnology), Düsseldorf / b.value AG, Dortmund

  • Astrida Miceikienė - (Lithuania), Chancellor of Agriculture Academy at Vytautas Magnus University, Kaunas

Click here for more information on the competition, prizes and videos from this year’s finalists
Watch a live recording of the final round!