Belgrade Hosts Second Biotech Future Forum

In the past week, Belgrade hosted the International Conference Biotech Future Forum for the second year in a row. The event brought together over 500 participants and 40 speakers, including leading state and business leaders and scientists from around the world. The conference was organized by the Government of the Republic of Serbia in cooperation with the World Economic Forum and UNDP, supported by the BIO4 campus.

The diverse conference program included a government panel, four expert focus sessions, two keynote talks, and a Green district with numerous panels and an exhibition of domestic startups. The conference was officially opened by Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić, joined on stage by World Economic Forum Executive Director Mirek Dušek and OECD Secretary General Mathias Cormann. A special contribution to the opening ceremony was made through a video message from Achim Steiner, Administrator of UNDP.

The conference attracted numerous prominent leaders, including Serbia’s Minister of Science, Jelena Begović; H.E. Mohamed Bin Taliah representing the UAE Government; Dr. Ami Appelbaum from the Israel Innovation Authority, and several others. Two keynote speakers added special significance to this year’s conference. Prof. Tim Lu, a distinguished Professor at MIT, Co-Founder & CEO of Senti Biosciences and Dr. Reshma Shetty, Co-founder of synthetic biology’s first unicorn, Ginkgo Bioworks. On this occasion, the Government of the Republic of Serbia signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Ginkgo, marking it as one of the most significant achievements of the conference and an indicator of the Forum’s role as a platform for networking and fostering cooperation with global experts.

The Forum brought numerous Serbian scientists and entrepreneurs who have been living and working abroad for decades, excelling in their fields worldwide. These include Prof. Milica Radišić from the University of Toronto, Dr. Vladimir Cmiljanović, founder and director of Swiss Rockets in Switzerland, Prof. Miroslava Cuperlovic-Culf from NRC Canada, and others. As a result, various joint projects and collaborations with domestic institutions were initiated. For instance, Prof. Zoran Obradović from Temple University in America and Prof. Vladimir Brusić from the University of Nottingham in China reconnected with Serbia’s bioinformatics community and are set to be keynote speakers at upcoming domestic conferences like the Belgrade Bioinformatics Conference (BelBI).

Collaboration emerged through joint projects between Serbia’s Institute for Application of Nuclear Energy (INEP) and Dr. Nataša Skoko from the International Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) in Italy, as well as Dr. Ana Janić from Pompeu Fabra University in Spain – both of whom participated as speakers in this year’s panels. The Research and Development Institute for Artificial Intelligence of Serbia initiated such partnerships last year by engaging with Dr. Nevenka Dimitrova, a prominent scientist in the field of biomedical data in America, who moderated the Data Panel.

Furthermore, among the significant outcomes of the conference, we emphasize the collaboration established between the domestic startup Bifrost Bioplastic, a participant in this year’s exhibition of domestic startups within the green district, and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). Additionally, our Center’s connection with eminent genomics experts like Dr. Thomas Keen and Mark Bale from the UK facilitated its inclusion in the Genome of Europe consortium. Subsequently, the Center submitted a project to the Digital Europe call for projects aimed at sequencing 100,000 European genomes in the days following the conference.

© Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.