Star gathering in the lab

Some of Denmark’s biggest talents in biotechnology will be coming together for the Biotech Academy Camp in the fall holiday, when for a whole week they will immerse themselves in the latest research in this field.

We have The X-Factor and all sorts of other programs in which future talents sing and perform. But, in spite of the massive interest, there is something to suggest that Denmark as a nation has developed a rather one-dimensional relationship to terms such as talent and creativity.

”It’s completely mad to say that only certain subjects are creative. If there’s one thing that's creative, it’s the science subjects. So the very young people here – they really have talent," said Danish Minister for Education Bertel Haarder in connection with the Biotech Camp 2008.

Biotechnology in the holiday
For the second year in a row Novozymes, together with a number of other big companies, is opening the Biotech Academy Camp at the Department of Systems Biology at the Technical University of Denmark:

”The Biotech Camp will bring together talented gymnasium and HTX – that is, higher technical examination – pupils from around the country. During the fall holiday they will be working with biotechnology in all its aspects. The general theme is bacteria for good and evil, where the young talents will gain a detailed insight into the existence of bacteria – from the cheese in the refrigerator to the detergent we use to wash our clothes,” explains Anne-Mette Hviid, who will be running the Camp together with her colleague Christian Simon.

”And the really fantastic thing about biotechnology is that it gives us the possibility to use less chemicals and emit less CO2 into the atmosphere,” they add.

Need for more young biotechnologists
In spite of the fact that Denmark is a superpower within industrial biotechnology and that this field brings in large sums to the state coffers, in recent years it has proved difficult getting applicants for science courses. However, there is something to suggest that the Biotech Academy and Novozymes have helped to change this.

”In the future Denmark’s position as the world leader in industrial biotechnology will be challenged as bioenergy and sustainable biological solutions receive more and more attention from the biggest companies in the world," says Per Falholt, Executive Vice President and CSO at Novozymes. "In order not only to protect our position, but also to expand it, it is therefore vital that we in Denmark train up the best talents. It is gratifying that for the first time in the six years that the bachelor’s course in biotechnology has existed at the Technical University of Denmark all 60 places have been taken up, and that there is a similar growth in the courses in the Faculty of Life Sciences (LIFE) at the University of Copenhagen.”

In recent years Novozymes, among others, has provided support in the form of teaching and funding for laboratory equipment that can be loaned out to the country’s gymnasiums. In the same way, Novozymes is one of the driving forces behind the Biotech Academy, thereby inspiring breadth and prioritizing the elite, as Per Falholt puts it.

Per Falholt wants to open young people’s eyes to how creative and exciting it can be to study science.

”I'm delighted that it's actually possible to get more young people interested in studying science when companies, gymnasiums and universities work together to make it happen.”

Creative star gathering
Anne-Mette Hviid from the Biotech Camp is promising that it will be an inspiring week:

”Working with biotechnology is also a creative process. It will be a real star gathering of young people at the Biotech Camp, and I'm sure that several of the participants will apply to do a science course. Perhaps there will even be a world star or two in the team,” she concludes.