IBCarb will inform the general public and policy makers about the new opportunities that arise as we shift from a hydrocarbon based economy to a biorenewable based one. We will focus not only on existing technical and scientific challenges, but will also consider potential societal issues (e.g. minimizing carbon footprints, ensuring healthy food supplies). Additionally, we will train scientists in academia and industry to realize the full potential glycotechnology has to offer.
A number of challenges in ‘Societal Impact’ that IBCarb will seek to address have already been identified by our Executive Committee and in our funding application, and are listed below. This list is not exclusive and we hope that more challenges will be identified at future IBCarb events.
The benefits of glycoscience research are currently not well represented in the higher education curriculum. Accordingly, IBCarb will aim to strengthen the recognition of glycoscience among education professionals. As well as hands-on training, on-line training will be provided using social media tools, such as Twitter, YouTube and webinars.
Influence policy to improve the uptake of biorenewable carbohydrates as chemical and energy feedstocks
Currently, investment into carbohydrate-based technologies is limited. Policy makers need to be provided with convincing data and arguments (including life cycle analyses) that investment in this area will help to address important issues regarding the problems facing our society. Through the generation of white papers, newsletters and information on social media the use and opportunities of a carbohydrate based bioeconomy will be promoted.
Food Safety and Nutrition
Functional foods provide an opportunity to improve societal health through diet, reducing the burden on health services and improving our quality of life. However, the development of such foods will need to be matched by consumer education on their health benefits to ensure successful adaptation. We will organise regular outreach events for adults and children to understand how effective products can be developed and how carbohydrates can benefit health and wellbeing.
Training of Health Professionals
With the development of novel glycoscience tools for diagnostic and medical applications, it will be important to provide educational tools for health professionals to raise awareness of the opportunities glycoscience can provide, especially in relation to Personalised Medicines.