Prof. dr. ir. Wim SOETAERT holds a degree in chemical and biochemical engineering and did a PhD in bioengineering at Ghent University. He is an industrial biotechnology and biorefining specialist, who spent 13 years in the carbohydrate processing industry in Germany and France as R&D director before joining UGent as a full professor. Since 2008, he heads the Centre of Expertise for Industrial Biotechnology and Biocatalysis (InBio.be) at Ghent University, Faculty of BioScience Engineering. His research group of about 20 people is active in the areas of industrial biotechnology, biocatalysis, fermentation science and engineering. He has been the PI on the research on microbial biosurfactants at InBio.be for the past 15 years.
Prof. Soetaert has extensive experience in the valorisation of research results, exemplified by the spin-off company Inbiose that is focusing on the production of specialty carbohydrates through industrial biotechnology. Inbiose was founded in 2013 and has grown to over 50 people with 2 specialty carbohydrates (Human Milk Oligosaccharides) already on the market.
Prof. Soetaert is also the founder and director of the Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant, an open innovation Pilot Plant for bio-based products and processes based in Ghent. The Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant is specialised in scaling up bio-based products and processes up to production scale. The Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant was founded in 2009, started its operations in 2011 and has now grown to over 150 people in 2022.
Prof. Soetaert has extensive experience in the management and coordination of innovation projects in Flanders and abroad (academic, industrial and EU-projects) and is an active player in EU policy concerning Industrial Biotechnology and Biorefineries. He was the vice-chairman of ESAB, a board member of the European technology platform for sustainable chemistry (SusChem) and is closely cooperating with EuropaBio and EU. He has published over 170 peer review publications, 2 books and 13 book chapters and holds 13 patents in the field of industrial biotechnology.