Biobased Battle 2016

After the successful first edition Avans and UFMG organized the second edition of the Biobased Battle. The coffee industry was the appointed industry in this edition. 20 Dutch students and 20 Brazilian students worked together in teams of four people. The students came from different studies, such as Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Law and Economics and Management.


Considering the Brazilian market, the coffee production in the state of Minas Gerais is representative. With more than one million hectares planted, Minas Gerais produces more than 50% of the Brazilian coffee crop. The main export commodity in Minas Gerais agribusines and, coffee is sold to over 60 countries worldwide. Also, all the Brazilian coffee exportation to the Netherlands was from Minas Gerais in 2014. And finally, the Netherlands is the main country in Europe that traded coffee with Minas Gerais (imports and exports) in 2014. 


Furthermore, Brazil accounted for 15% of total coffee’s imports to the Netherlands in 2014, the biggest share when compared with other developing countries. The Netherlands is the eight-largest importer of green coffee in Europe, accounting for nearly 4% of all imports.  In 2014, Dutch imports of green coffee beans amounted to a total volume of 132 thousand tonnes (€328 million). The environmental impact of the industry in both countries is high and therefore interesting to work with.


Do you want to know more about the Biobased Battle concept? Please click here.


The week was made possible by the Dutch Embassy in Brazil.

Dutch part of the winners together with the Dutch jury.


This year the challenge is related to the coffee industry, mainly regarding the residues produced in the farms. Considering this, the guideline to the challenge is:


"How to optimize the coffee beans processing through treatment and reuse of wastes generated in the farms?"


The result of the week is 10 applicable solutions for the research question.


The international jury assessed each solution on the criteria suitability to the challenge, innovation degree, market potential, environmental impact, feasibility and presentation.


Are you interested in the solutions? Contact the Living Lab via this link.


The winner of the week was group 8. 

  • Thijs van der Wiel (Environmental Engineering)
  • Rafa Peris (Entrepreneurship)
  • Stijn van Hout (SME Business Management)
  • Carolina de Carvalho Rettore (Chemical Engineering)
  • Gabriel Tadeu Jacintho (Technological Chemistry)



Here you can download the presentation of the winning Biobased Battle 2016. Living Lab partners are investigating whether we can work out the ideas in a project.

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Brazilian students at Avans

Talitha Neves and Vitor Amaral come to Avans University of Applied Sciences to do their research. In September they started with their research. Thalita studies Chemical Engineering (BSc) at UFV and Vitor Chemistry (MSc) at UFMG. Below you find the introduction per student.

Thalita Neves

 I am Thalita, 22 years old and I am a chemical engineering student at the Federal University of Viçosa in Brazil.  I was born in a country town of Minas Gerais, and as a good 'Mineira' I love cheese bread and coffee. I love my family, my boyfriend and my dogs, I also like to walk through quiet and full of trees places. I love to study (It is true! I really like it!) and I have came to this beautiful city which is Breda, to spend 6 months and do my internship in the area of biotechnological processes, this is the same line of research I did in Brazil. It 's the first time I have come abroad and I am having a great experience, there is no doubt this is a great opportunity to grow personally and professional. 

Vitor Amaral

My name is Vitor Amaral, I am 25 years old and I am a master student from Brazil. In Brazil, I live in Belo Horizonte city and I study chemistry (masters project eucalyptus pyrolysis) at the University Federal Minas Gerais – UFMG. I chose to study chemistry, because I always liked to better understand why and how something happens in nature and life. Also, try to make some difference in people’s life. Nowadays, I am doing an internship at Avans University in Breda about analyze of bioplastics. I chose this new challenge because I like challenges, also it is important to have experience of another point of view, learn a different way to solve problems and grow as a person with the experience in living in another country with different languages and a different culture. I almost forgetting to say that I love cycling, so I am in the right country!

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The Rationale of Development

Brazil is known as a country with great potential for production of bio-products from biomass. The country is very conveniently located in a tropical zone, has a lot of sunlight, abundant rainfall, a great size of rich flora and a large supply of available land. This makes Brazil very suitable for businesses. Agriculture in a sustainable manner, Brazil has 90 million hectares of agricultural land, but also about 210 million hectares of land, more or less is in a degraded state. Which can be used for regeneration after the production of food and crops for bio-industry.


In the Netherlands the Biobased Economy takes an important place in the circular economy and is an important and common goal for government, industry and knowledge institutions. Biobased Economy offers new opportunities for business and has the potential to become one of the priorities of the national economy. Since the Netherlands is strong in chemistry, agro-food and logistics, the Biobased Economy is one of the ways in which the country can achieve “green” growth. The Biobased Economy is broadly accepted in the Netherlands for the past 10 years. The Netherlands has agro-food and chemical industries that can compete with the best of the world. It is also the next-to-largest exporter of agricultural and food products in the world. 


Global emerging trends:

1.       Internationalization of higher education appears to be moving into a new stage;

2.       Shift in international student mobility patterns; 

3.   The way innovation is currently done requires a new research methodology that enables co-creation based on shared-values and evaluation in real-world settings;

 4.      Wicked problems (grand challenges) call for diverse types of knowledge, resources, participation and collaboration on a global scale. 

Nowadays more and more knowledge institutions, government agencies and enterprises are working together to develop and implement innovations. This is partly due to social and economic changes, globalization, and improved market conditions. New technologies require cooperating and coordinating across geographical distances. Furthermore, the development costs of new products and services are lower, risks are shared and the time-to-market is reduced.


As a major agricultural producer in Brazil, the state of Minas Gerais has a great potential in the development of Biobased Economy, which has become a strategic area for the development of the state. Minas Gerais is the third largest Brazilian economy and the second largest state in exports.  In 2013, the state produced a gross domestic product (GDP) of US$ 200 billion and the total exports reached US$33.4billion.

Biobased Battle 2015

Living Labs are bilateral triple helix initiatives in which higher education institutions, government organisations and companies work together in human capital development, applied research and knowledge dissemination & valorisation. It connects enterprises, public organizations and governments with higher education institutions through students, professors and researchers who apply their expertise in a specific sector to real-life research challenges.


The Living Lab Biobased Brazil is targeting an industrial sector that is of  strategic importance in both  Brazil and the Netherlands. It stimulates innovation by enabling and developing competencies of people through the application of practical assignments by students, lecturers, researchers and professionals.


The purpose of the Living Lab Biobased Brazil is to contribute to the national agendas on Biobased Economy both in Brazil and the Netherlands. Improving the employability of the labor force and bringing innovation to this sector  are major activities on the agenda’s. It does so by  setting-up the triple helix collaboration and exchanging practices and experiences on practice-oriented education, applied research and labor market relevance within and between the two countries.


The Living Lab Biobased Brazil offers different kind of products and services, like internships and graduation assignments, a developing environment (for prototypes and experiments), trainings, seminars, master classes and (Massive) Open Online Courses (MOOC) to contribute to the human capital agenda and innovative developments within the Biobased Economy sector in both countries.


Within the Living Lab Biobased Brazil a ‘growing by showing by doing’ approach is applied. It starts with internships and/or graduation assignments for Dutch and Brazilians students at company level or at an university. These serve as showcases for practical and applied research solutions while creating understanding and bringing universities and companies from both countries in contact with each other.


The outcomes of these student research assignments serve as starting point for broader applied research projects. Finally, the results of the applied research projects are shared with the wider education and business community in both countries. This  approach will create more interest and new companies and public partners are expected to join the Living Lab Biobased Brazil.


The education and research agenda of the Living Lab Biobased Brazil is the result of consultations with various stakeholders consisting of representatives of the triple helix partners originating from both countries. At present four (research) themes are selected: Water Technology, Agro & Food, Green Chemistry and Sustainable Environment.


In the end the Living Lab should develop itself into an incubator creating opportunities for international cooperation between Brazil and The Netherlands targeting the Biobased Economy sector. 

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Next chapter of Biobased Battle 2016

Avans University of Applied Sciences and UFMG will organize a new chapter of the Biobased Battle. The assignment of the week comes from the coffee industry in Brazil. Dutch and Brazilian students will compete in the battle. Gabriela d'Avila Metzker (CTIT) is one of the initiators.

Gabriela: "Biobased Battle is an international contest in the field of the Biobased Economy and aimed at developing novel concepts for real world challenges of a give business segment. CTIT believes that, by decreasing the distance between University-Market, we would be better qualified to understand the challenges, demands and bottlenecks thus calibrating our expectations and helping sharpen our focus. In a intergrated and collaborative work environment, we expect to enhance the relationship with companies augmenting in number and quality our technology transfer agreements".


The Biobased Battle is made possible by financial support from the Dutch Embassy in Brazil.



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Thirteen students go to Minas Gerais

Per September 2016, thirteen students start with their internship in Minas Gerais. The group consists of students from Avans University of Applied Sciences HZ University of Applied Sciences and VHL University of Applied Sciences. They conduct research at UFMG, UFV, PUC Minas and a newcomer: FUMEC.

Graphics 1: Student Satisfaction Survey 2015-2016
Graphics 1: Student Satisfaction Survey 2015-2016

The number of students who do an internship in Brazil via Living Lab is increasing every year. Also more professors from both countries are involved. According to Erik Lammers, project manager at the Centre of Expertise Biobased Economy (Avans/HZ) is networking through student and staff mobility crucial to get a proper network. "Last year and a half, 30 students went to Brazil for an internship or graduation assignment. Those students use their knowledge, which they have obtained during their studies in the Netherlands, during their project. Also they bring brack knowledge from Brazil. This enriches our curriculum and individual personal and professional development. At this moment the interest of Brazilian students to come to the Netherlands is growing. Hopefully these students can also do some research projects with our universities, like Avans, HZ, HAS and VHL. It is good that we join forces and therefore these students can get the opportunity for personal development in an international environment as well."

Rosemarie de Ruiter, Chemistry student at Avans University of Applied Sciences, is currently doing research at UFMG. "I am doing research on the synthesis of biodiesel from non-edible plants. The aim is to optimize the synthesis process, since this is important for the development of bio-diesel that is not in competition with the food supply. Ultimately, we hope that this research gives companies the tools to implement it in practice and to commercialize."


Graphics 2: Student Satisfaction Survey 2015-2016
Graphics 2: Student Satisfaction Survey 2015-2016

Each year the number of students who go to Brazil increase. This is due to the interest from the students, but also by the range of projects. Through the exchange of students, we can know each other better and exchange experiences in the areas of applied research topics and curriculum building.


Graphics 3: Student Satisfaction Survey 2015-2016
Graphics 3: Student Satisfaction Survey 2015-2016

The evaluation surveys showed that students scored hear their experience in Brazil, namely with a 7. Also 91% of students recommend other students to do also an internship or graduation project in Brazil. Furthermore scored supervision by the Brazilian, the student life in Belo Horizonte and Viçosa, events organized by Living Lab and housing excellent. Unfortunately scored working facilities, such as laboratories and installations reasonable to poor.


Most of the students who went to Brazil study at Avans University of Applied Sciences (46%). HZ University of Applied Sciences was responsible for 27% of the outgoing students. VHL University of Applied Sciences sent unfortunately less students to Brazil compared with the others. The most important reasons for this is that this university is less than one year member of the consortium.


When we look at the origins of the students notice that it is a diversity of nationalities. The reason is that both offer Avans, HZ and HAS international training in the field of Environmental Engineering and Chemistry. Of course, the Dutch nationality is the most common. Moreover, the majority of the other nationalities from Europe.

Graphics 4: Student Satisfaction Survey 2015-2016
Graphics 4: Student Satisfaction Survey 2015-2016

Most of the students do research at UFMG. Departamento de Engenharia Sanitária e Ambiental (DESA) and Laboratório de Ensaios de Combustíveis (LEC) are the most imporant departments from UFMG which participate in Living Lab. UFV participates through their Laboratório de Celulose e PapelLaboratório de Engenharia Sanitária e Ambiental (LESA), Chemistry and Chemical Engineering. PUC Minas is working together in the field of Biofuels, Chemistry, Chemical Engineering and Water Technology. FUMEC is officially not a partner yet.

To read the personal blogs of the students, please click here.