ICGEB Board of Governors, Cape Town, South Africa

ICGEB Board meets in South Africa to discuss future steps in Biotechnology

The ICGEB is an intergovernmental organisation that plays a key role in promoting Biotechnology research excellence, training and technology transfer to industry for the benefit of humanity. It held its first in-person Board of Governors meeting since the pandemic on 10-11 May 2023 in Cape Town.

Focused on world-leading quality research, training and technology transfer in infectious and non-communicable diseases, medical, industrial and plant biotechnology, with laboratories across three Continents, the session was attended by over 180 participants, including representatives from 55 Member States, Observer Countries from the industrialised and developing worlds, and 10 partner Multilateral Organisations.

L-R: Min. Jelena Begovic, Serbia and Prof. Kassahun Tesfaye, Ethiopia
Min. Jelena Begovic, newly elected President of the Board with Prof. Kassahun Tesfaye, Vice-President elect

Min. Jelena Begovic, Minister of Science, Technological Development and Innovation of the Republic of Serbia, was elected President of the Board, effective 1 January 2024. A molecular biologist Min. Begovic has been long associated with the ICGEB, and acknowledged the fast developing challenges in biotechnology, including Artificial Intelligence, “to address and communicate in years to come,” considering “ICGEB one of the best Organisations to do this.”

Prof. Kassahun Tesfaye, Director General of the Bio and Emerging Technology Institute, Ministry of Innovation and Technology of Ethiopia, who has significantly contributed to the development of ICGEB programme activities in his country since its membership in 2019, was nominated Vice-President elect.

The Board unanimously endorsed the recommendation of the Director-General of ICGEB, Dr. Lawrence Banks (UK) for a second mandate, commencing in 2024. It recognised the mechanisms implemented for training, laboratories established and support for international educational programmes at the Components, as well as his interest in engaging Member States to allow the Centre to grow and perform, to promote scientific cooperation through regional programmes, and in being strongly committed to the success of the Centre on all fronts.

The Board adopted the Revision of the ICGEB Scale of Assessment, to come into force in 2024, and to be periodically revised in line with changes implemented by the United Nations to ensure continuous ICGEB alignment with the UN Scale of Assessment.

Hosted by the Government of South Africa, Departement of Science and Innovation, the session was opened by the Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation of South Africa, Mr. Buti Manamela who focused on the strategic research areas of the African Component of the ICGEB which also form part of the country’s key research priorities: health and agricultural innovation, biotechnology, and inclusivity and transformation.

The ICGEB Host Government of Italy, represented by Mr. Alessandro Garbellini, Head, Office for Multilateral Scientific Cooperation and Intellectual Property, Directorate General for Country Promotion, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MAECI), expressed its “undeniable importance in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals”, and confirmed that “Italy considers the ICGEB a key player in the research landscape of the nation”.

On behalf of the Host Government of India, Dr. Alka Sharma, Senior Advisor, Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology, expressed India’s pleasure in seeing the progress achieved over the previous decades and at the immense growth of the ICGEB in India in healthcare, nutrition, agriculture, and industrial development.

Mr. Giovanni Coppola, President of the Chamber of the European and International Affairs, Italian Court of Auditors, in approving the accounts of the ICGEB for the year ended 31 December 2022, brought to an end their 9-year mandate; leaving ICGEB a stronger, more international Organisation.

Online participants at the 29th Board

The Board welcomed the Dominican Republic and Rwanda as the most recent full Member States of the Organisation, and received updates on the establishment of new ICGEB Regional Research Centres in Argentina, Brazil, Kenya, the Republic of Moldova and Türkiye, as well as the work of the ICGEB China RRC.

On 25 May 2023, Min. Plen. Giuseppe Pastorelli, Central Director for Integrated Promotion and Innovation, and Dr. Alessandro Garbellini, MAECI, visited the headquarters of the ICGEB in Trieste, Italy, to consolidate the Council’s findings on the future direction of the Organisation.

L-R: Dr. G. Sciarabba, Senior Advisor to the Director-General, Dr. M.L. Fichera, Chief Legal & Admin., Dr. A. Garbellini, MAECI, Ms. M. Maculan, Chief, External Relations, Min. Plen. G. Pastorelli, MAECI, Ms. S. Kerbavcic, Head of Communications and Outreach, Dr. L. Braga, Group Leader, Functional Cell Biology Lab, Dr. E. Buratti, Group Leader, Molecular Pathology and Dr. N. Skoko, Group Leader, Biotechnology Development
Visit to the ICGEB HQ by Min. Plen. Giuseppe Pastorelli and Dr. Alessandro Garbellini, Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation