International Scientific Conference

Circular bioeconomy
a shift towards sustainable food production

13-14 October 2022 | hybrid event | Tartu, Estonia

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Dr Rajeev Bhat is presently working as a Professor and ERA-Chair-holder (European Research Area Chair) in VALORTECH (Food By-Products Valorisation Technologies) at the Estonian University of Life Sciences. He has extensive ‘Research & Teaching experience of more than two decades (23 years) in the field of agri-food technology, with expertise focusing mainly on issues pertaining to ‘Sustainable Food Production’ and ‘Food Security.’ He holds international experiences of working in India, South-Korea, Malaysia, Germany, Fiji Islands, and now in Estonia. To date, he has authored more than 250 research articles published in ISI-WOS-based journals (Google-Scholar H-index 54; Scopus-H-index 47) and as refereed book chapters; has edited 12 books and authored one book; is on the editorial board of leading international journals; has been on the scientific committee/advisory board member and an invited keynote speaker in various international conferences. His name now figures in the World's top 2% of scientists in the field of Food Science & Technology as per the recent survey done by Stanford University-based researchers. Recently, he was elected by the European Academies Science Advisory Council (EASASC) as an expert in 'Meat Alternatives' under the EASAC Biosciences Programme. Prof. Bhat has been a visiting professor in many of the recognized universities and is also a recipient of several prestigious international awards and recognitions conferred by various institutions of higher learning and research establishments.




Mr Uko Bleive graduated from the Estonian Academy of Agriculture (EPA) with a degree in agronomy. He has been involved in fruit and berry storage, processing and extraction technologies for 15 years by carrying out different research and development projects. As the head of the technology unit of the Estonian University of Life Sciences, Polli Horticultural Research Center, he carries out various product development services and projects in cooperation with entrepreneurs.

Mr Diego Canga Fano is Spanish and works in the EU since 1991. He started his career in the Council Legal Service. He moved to the Commission in 2006 and in 2009 he was appointed Head of Cabinet of the Commissioner of Industry and Entreprises. In 2014 he was appointed Director in DG AGRI. In 2017 he worked for the President of the European Parliament as Head of Cabinet and he returned to DG AGRI in 2019. Starting from 1st November 2022 he will be again Director in DG AGRI in charge of agricultural research and innovation.


Mr Kristo Elias is a journalist for the Estonian Public Broadcasting. For 10 years now, Kristo has worked at the country's oldest and most important weekly primetime nature and environmental program called “Osoon" and the radio program "Ökoskoop". Kristo is a moderator at various nature and environmental events. Kristo is an advocate of sustainable development, a nature lover and a convinced cyclist.  


Dr Marianne Fred is Head of RDI of Novia University of Applied Sciences Finland. Her main focus is on developing sustainable local economies and local food systems. Dr. Fred is especially interested in combining RDI projects with continuous education aimed at micro-and small rural enterprises.



Ms Helis Heiter is a food designer with a backround in landscape architecture. She studied food design in Milan and is currently based in Tallinn. She is interested in all sorts of food related topics. Especially those that are at the intersection of food, art and design. But also what, how and why are we eating and could we possibly prevent illnesses or even cure them with food. That’s why she recently also started nutritional therapy training. She is designing food products, eating experiences and edible installations and is engaged with different creative and culinary projects. She is the Estonian ambassador of the largest world wide food design community Food Design Nation.  

Mr Barna Kovacs is currently working as counsellor at the Permanent Representation of Hungary to the EU. He has been appointed as the Secretary General of the BIOEAST Initiative, as vice-chair of the FACCE JPI, and as SCAR member on behalf of Hungary. His responsibilities covers the follow up of the Council discussion with regard to the research and innovation in the field of bioeconomy.  


Mr Petri-Jaan Lahtvee is a professor in Food Tech and Bioengineering at Tallinn University of Technology, where his research is focussed on the valorization of organic waste (mainly food and wood waste) into value-added food and feed supplements, but also biomaterials and chemicals. Petri defended his PhD in 2012 at TalTech, did his postdoc at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden under the supervision of Prof. Jens Nielsen on systems biology of yeasts and was, afterwards, recruited to lead the H2020 funded ERA Chair in Synthetic biology at the University of Taru, Estonia. His research group has established the Design-Build-Test-Learn cycle approach for the construction of microbial cell factories, and they apply various techniques, including bioinformatics, synthetic biology, bioprocess optimization and additive manufacturing of living materials.  
Mr Andreas Lavik joined the team in spring 2018, after years of work within the field, both as an intern at SES and as seaweed hatchery manager in the western part of Norway. Andreas is responsible for the supply of seedlings to external customers, including followup and tailoring products to each individual need. He also manages external projects and supplier relations. Andreas has a MSc in Marine Coastal Development (Dept, of Biology, NTNU, Trondheim). He speaks Norwegian, English and Spanish.  


Ms Liisi Lees is a marine policy expert and researcher at the Estonian Marine Institute. Her work focuses on maritime spatial planning and the blue economy. Liisi is involved in numerous international projects including BlueBioClusters, MSP4BIO, BlueMissionBANOS. With previous experience at the Ministry of Rural Affairs, she aims to facilitate marine policy development and inspire blue economy undertakings in Estonia.  



Dr. Evelin Loit is an associate professor at the Estonian University of Life Sciences. She defended her PhD at the University of Ottawa in Canada on wheat genetics and biochemistry. Then she started research in agronomy with the aim of linking genetic studies with field conditions. Value chain based approaches are important to her and recently her research group has focused on improvement of cereal valorization by studying cereal fiber.




Prof. Marika Mänd is Chair of Plant Health at EMU. She is leading a team that focuses on insects and other arthropods providing ecosystem services, in topics including pollination and biocontrol of agricultural pest insects. Her recent work has focused on the synergistic effects of agrochemicals on honey bee and bumble bee health. She has been involved as leading scientist or partner in several national as well as EU research projects focusing on pollinator/pollination research (BICOPOLL, POSHBEE, SAFEGUARD) and the COST action Super-B. To achieve impact, her team works closely with different stakeholders (including beekeepers, farmers, conservation organisations, policymakers). She is as a member of the Evaluation Committee of the Estonian Research Council and is acting an advisor to the Estonian government on bee health issues.  

Mr Märt-Erik Martens is the Co-founder and CEO of Gelatex. Gelatex Technologies is a Techstars-backed materials company from Estonia that is revolutionizing nanofiber production. Märt-Erik has MSc in materials science and has devoted his scientific career to nanofibrous materials.  


PhD Karin Meissner helds a life science diploma and has a 25 years proven track record in the international food industry. Karin started her career as lecturer for dieticians followed by different positions in marketing and regulatory in the infant formula/dairy industry for almost 10 years. The last 16 years Karin introduced innovative food ingredients with nutritional benefit in the EMEA region and developed respective business. She is a strong believer in plant proteins and sustainability and joined the LUPINEERS (Prolupin GmbH) beginning of 2021 as Technical Sales Manager B2B. She supports food customer to develop sustainable products with lupine protein.  


Mr Ranno Nahku has over 17 years of experience in the field of microbial cultivation and manufacturing process development. This involves difficult to cultivate next generation probiotic species and food related aerobic species like filamentous fungi. Working closely with industrial strain producers like IFF, Lallemand and others has given him good experience in troubleshooting and solving practical issues of the industry.  


Dr. Reelika Rätsep (PhD in Agriculture since 2016) is working as a fellow researcher on sustainable food production in ERA Chair for Food (By-) Products Valorization Technologies (VALORTECH) of Estonian University of Life Sciences, and as a researcher on biochemistry of horticultural crops at Polli Horticultural Research Centre of Estonian University of Life Sciences, Estonia. Her current research interests are related to fruit and berry polyphenols, including anthocyanins and other antioxidants, and also focus on valorization of agricultural and horticultural plant-based side- and by-products in animal-based products and their utilization up to zero-waste concept.  


Ms Endla Reintam, professor in soil ecology. Have over 20 years of experience in teaching, fundamental and applied research in the area of basic soil science, soil classification, international classification systems, soil degradation and soil physical and chemical properties and their interactions to plant growth  


Ms Noa Sainz Lopez joint Erasmus Mundus PhD in Marine and Coastal Management. Currently, she is a Policy Officer in the Bioeconomy and Food Systems Unit at the Healthy Planet Directorate of the Directorate-General Research & Innovation (DG RTD) of the European Commission, based in Brussels, Belgium.  


Mr Maidu Silm is a wood loving fungy enthusiast and practitioner  


Ms Ailet Sutu is making drinking straws from reed for four years now. From our production leftovers, we developed bio-based material that can be used as an alternative to petroleum-based plastic.  


Mr Tanel Tenson is professor in the technology of antimicrobial compounds at Institute of Technology, University of Tartu. His research interests are related with antibiotic consumption and antibiotic resistance. This includes the influence of food on the antibiotic treatment side effects.  


Mr Madis Tilga is working as adviser for green transition and circular economy in the Nordic Council of Minister´office in Estonia. His main task is to facilitate green transition in the region and work towards common understanding on how this transition could happen and that the countries in the region would follow similar pace. In practice this means co-ordinating joint research ventures, arranging round tables, seminars for better co-operation, also business outreach and capacity building among civil servants and NGOs. Madis is also contributing to the mission of Nutriloop – startup that aims to design circular nutrient models for local communities.  


Mr Rando Värnik is a Professor and the Head of the Chair of Economics in Rural Economy at the Estonian University of Life Sciences. He has been conducting and managing research in the field of circular bioeconomy since 2017. Rando Värnik was an international expert for preparing the report “BIOEAST Foresight Exercise – Sustainable Bioeconomies towards 2050” on the future of the bioeconomy in the BIOEAST region in 2021. Since 2021, he is an expert within the international project “Promoting collaboration for sustainable and circular use of bioresources across agriculture, forestry, and aquaculture” (CIRCLE). Rando Värnik teaches a master’s course “Bioeconomy value chains” and is a member of the Council of the Bioeconomy Development Center of the Estonian University of Life Sciences.  


Mr Ants-Hannes Viira is a senior researcher at the Estonian University of Life Sciences, whose research is focused on the aspects of the development of the agricultural and food sector. His ongoing projects are in the field of bioeconomy, agricultural and food policy, green transition and digitalization.