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M. Pazos, E. Rosales, M.A. Sanroman

Universidad de Vigo (SPAIN)
Nowadays, circular economy is a concept that is gaining attention on a global scale. It is a smart alternative to the linear economy based on the use of planet’s resources efficiently and sustainably to prevent irreversible environmental degradation and resource depletion. It is a brand-new concept aimed to achieve harmonious development of human being and the nature, can be found relevant examples based on biotechnology processes.

Biotechnology provides an intrinsic synthesis power, which can be boosted by new technologies. It has a paramount role in making microbial utilization of various renewable raw materials more efficiently and can provide true breakthroughs and disruptive technologies in our transition from a fossil society towards a sustainable biobased one. For this reason, biotechnology is well-suited for developing processes side with the circular economy. Microbes can utilize organic waste fractions as raw materials, such as straw, wood chips and municipal waste, and turn them into the desired products once they have first been engineered to do so.

In this context, we have participated in the development of a subject in the Master of Advanced Biotechnology (inter-university study between University of Vigo and University of Coruña) focused on the application of biotechnology as solution for creating processes and products. This Advanced Master program is designed for students who want to update their technical and research skills in core areas such as molecular biology, protein technology, bioinformatics, and industrial biotechnology. The classes are followed by interactive video conferencing methodology between Vigo and Coruña universities. The use of video conferences permits the collaboration among teachers, scientists and industrial employers who give to the students an insight into of the real demand of the biotechnology today without any movement. Thus, several real problems detected in the society are proposed to the students that have to find an alternative process using biotechnology tools in a framework of circular economy. In these classes, the use of video conferencing has huge educational possibilities since it allows constant interaction, in real time, with image and sound between different points enabling different teachers, students, universities, research centers, etc. to participate in the communication process without any movement. This fact, increase the resources and the flow of knowledge. This new technology requires different forms of interaction, physical behavior, ways of presenting information and ways to judge the messages can be transmitted in both directions.

Finally, several interviews have been made to students, that revealed the positive attitude toward using of video conferences learning activities, but also they expressed several disadvantages that should be improved.