European Master in Biological and Chemical Engineering for a Sustainable Bioeconomy

Bioceb students win the first place in the French national Student Bio-Based Innovation Challenge (BISC-E) 2023

Four students from cohort 3 won the first place in the French national round of the Biobased Innovation Student Challenge (BISC-E), held on July 6 in Beauvais, France.

The student team, composed by Aiganym Abduraimova, Anastasiya Valakhanovich, Fernanda Thimoteo A. Jorge, and Nurdana Orynbek, showcased their project ‘BioAroma’, which is being developed under the GLP framework of the Bioceb master program. The goal of the project is to develop a biotechnological process for producing 2-phenylethanol, an aromatic alcohol with a rose-like fragrance, by using agro-industrial wastes as substrates.

“The demand for this natural aroma compound is increasing, specifically in the cosmetics and food markets”, the team explains. “The current methods of 2-phenylethanol production are a chemical synthesis that is toxic and polluting, and an extraction from flowers that is costly, labor-intensive and season-dependent. Our proposed methodology is cost-effective, bio-based and sustainable compared to existing methods. We utilize non-GM yeast strain, fermentation in bioreactors using low-cost waste streams as substrates, and extraction of the product using a green solvent. Our final product is natural, thus can be used in the food and flavor industries.”

The project was developed at URCA and AgroParisTech, and it will continue at the University of Liège in the upcoming semester. Ana Karen Sánchez-Castañeda (AgroParisTech), Claire Saulou-Bérion (AgroParisTech), Marwen Moussa (AgroParisTech), Ludovic Besaury (URCA), and Philippe Jacques (ULiège) are the project’s supervisors.

The BISC-E Challenge:

The BISC-E Challenge is an annual event organized by the Bioeconomy for Change initiative, dedicated to promoting student-led innovation in the bioeconomy sector. BISC-E seeks to raise awareness and involve students in the transition towards a bio-based economy, in addition to stimulating and supporting entrepreneurship.

To participate in the challenge, the students initially submitted an abstract and a concise video explananing their project, which you can watch here:

Later, they delivered a document detailing the technical, economic and environmental aspects of the innovation.

Finally, they were selected for the French finals, where Nurdana and Fernanda impressed the jury with a 10-min presentation of the project’s sustainability, technical feasibility and economic viability, which was awarded the first place and a prize of €1,000.

As winners of the French national, the team has guaranteed a place at the European final, which will proceed in two rounds during September 2023. Competing against teams from 18 other European countries, they will showcase their innovative project once again, aiming at the ultimate prize.

Team BioAroma’s remarkable victory at BISC-E France is a testament to the power of student-led innovation and the potential of bio-based solutions in shaping a sustainable future. As we celebrate their success, we eagerly anticipate the further advancement of their groundbreaking project.

This article has been written by Aiganym Abduraimova, Anastasiya Valakhanovich, Fernanda Thimoteo A. Jorge, and Nurdana Orynbek. Many thanks to them!

- Updated July 2023 -