2008 IREE Algae Summit
Oct. 16, 2008
The University of Minnesota’s Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment, a signature program of the Institute on the Environment, held a one-day technology assessment and review as a means to assess whether the Upper Midwest can be a global leader in algal science, business and partnerships. Scientists, technology practitioners and government officials from across the region and the country attended this event. The summit participants aimed to answer the following key questions: 1) Can algae aquaculture be viable and sustainable as a significant source of biofuels, biomaterials, feed/food, carbon sequestration and contaminants clean-up? 2) Can the Upper Midwest be a global leader in algal biosystems? 3) How can IREE best leverage its resources to make this a reality?
A total of 40 scientists, engineers, political staffers and business representatives convened to consider and answer the above questions. That morning, they offered short presentations on their interests in and vision for the development of alga-culture.
The first afternoon session included small group discussions focused on two questions: In which three to four key areas can algae biosystems make the greatest economic and/or environmental impact? And, what are the three to four key obstacles/challenges/gating technologies to overcome? These discussions were followed by individual group reports, grouping of issues, and voting to identify the highest priority areas of economic and environmental impact, as well as the greatest obstacles to achieving success in these areas.
During the second breakout session, the small groups were asked to discuss and vote on whether algaculture can play a significant role in the renewable energy bio-economy, and whether this is something IREE should invest in. Based on an affirmative answer, the groups were asked to recommend short- and long-term investment strategies for IREE.