Nadine Bongaerts

Synthetic Biology

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Nadine Bongaerts | Digital & Synthetic Biology
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Global Grand Challenges

Covid-19, the decreasing biodiversity, scarcity of raw materials, unsustainable production of food and a growing world population are challenges of our time that ‘we  cannot solve with the same thinking we used when we created them’ as Albert Einstein famously said.

Synthetic Biology holds the key to making technology based on nature that can offer new solutions to these unmet problems. Technologies based on engineered living systems will radically change the way we manufacture products, feed and cure ourselves.

Those who control life, control the future.

Topics & Presentations

The digital revolution has enabled a biological revolution that is accelerating faster than ever. The convergence of computer science, robotics, chemistry, physics and biology allow us to produce sustainable meat based on cultivated cells, or cleaner energy using algae, living medicine based on reprogrammed patient cells or plants that can survive in hot climates (and more).

In this talk, Nadine will provide an introduction to synthetic biology and explain how it will impact your industry / industries of interest.

Three main agricultural revolutions have changed us from hunting and gathering to farming, and have allowed us to feed billions of people through the use of machines, pesticides and genetic engineering.

We have become super farmers, but with a massive negative impact on our environment.

New advances in stem cell technology, cell cultivation science and food science allow us to start a new agricultural revolution called ‘cellular agriculture’.
In this new revolution, we only grow the cells we need for the making of our food.

The world population wants 70% more meat by 2050 using significantly less land and energy, and reducing the risk on pandemics by.

Medicine, fuels, plastics, fragrances, colorants, are all examples of chemical products that are generally produced in unsustainable ways.

Synthetic biology can turn cells into biological factories that produce the exact same molecules we all love, but at low temperatures and without toxic byproducts.

Companies and governments who understand the opportunities synthetic biology offers to make our planet sustainable will profit the most from the fast growing global bioeconomy.

For millions of years, evolution has been the ultimate driving force for innovation in living organisms.

Thanks to decades of studying nature’s incredible inventions for, we have finally arrived at a time where we can not only understand but also engineer biology.

Advances in reading and writing DNA have transformed biology into information technology, allowing us to rewrite the code of life and taking evolution into our own hands.

  • What do these advances mean for who will become in the future?
  • What are the risks and how should we prepare for it?
  • What future do we want and who will or should decide?


Dr. Nadine Bongaerts is Chief Innovation Officer at GOURMEY and synthetic biologist by training. GOURMEY is the first cultured meat company from France. They grow duck cells instead of real ducks to revolutionize the way we eat the most controversial French delicacy – foie gras.

Bongaerts is a true connector between science, society and business and is frequently asked to provide her thought leadership on the industrial, societal and sustainability impact of biotech advances.

Throughout her career, she has been determined to accelerate the so-called ‘biorevolution’ in which the convergence of biological and the digital worlds can create a vast range of applications that are smarter, smaller and cleaner. Those innovations are already impacting all sectors: from agriculture to medicine and from new materials to cleaner fuels, but she strongly believes that this technological revolution can only reach its full potential if science takes into account both business and society.

Before joining GOURMEY, graduated summa cum laude from her Ph.D. in synthetic biology at the National Institute for Health and Medical Research (INSERM) in Paris. During her PhD, she developed a faster and cheaper method to discover new antibiotics. She previously obtained her bachelors and master’s degree in Life Science & Technology from Delft University of Technology and Leiden University.

Her interest for synthetic biology (or engineering biology) was sparked when in 2010 she participated in the iGEM (Internationally Engineered Machine) competition organized at MIT. The TU Delft team she was part of developed standardized parts of DNA – biobricks – to transform bacteria into oil digesting cells. Their work was recognized both nationally and internationally and received several awards.

During her student time, Nadine did not only develop a passion for science, but also for entrepreneurship.

In 2012, she became the Dutch chairman of the Kairos Society, a global community to connect innovative young entrepreneurs. In 2013, she helped to build the international deeptech organisation Hello Tomorrow that helps science entrepreneurs in their journey to bringing laboratory inventions to the market. Since 2015, more than 20k science startups have applied to their startup challenges and Hello Tomorrow finalist startups have already raised more than $300M.