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NexSteppe Inc. CEO Selected to Receive the 2016 BIO Rosalind Franklin Award

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Washington, D.C. (March 30, 2016) – The Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) announced today that President and CEO of NexSteppe, Anna Rath, has been selected by a committee of her peers to be the recipient of the 2016 BIO Rosalind Franklin Award. The Rosalind Franklin Award was established by BIO to honor an outstanding woman in the field of industrial biotechnology. 

“I’m extremely honored to be chosen for this award and flattered by the extraordinary company of former award winners,” said Rath. “NexSteppe is committed to enabling the bioeconomy by providing high-quality, cost-effective, scalable and reliable feedstocks for the entire range of biopower, biogas, advanced and cellulosic biofuels and biobased products.  As the commercial scale of these industries grows, so too does the need for and focus on the availability of these sustainable and dependable raw materials.  We are excited to be doing our part to help drive the continued growth and development of the bioeconomy.”

 “Much like Rosalind Franklin, Anna Rath’s passion for science and strong work ethic has led to one of the greatest breakthroughs in industrial biotechnology. Optimizing crops for renewable energy has spurred the growth of the biofuels, biopower, and biobased product industries,” said Brent Erickson, executive vice president for BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section. “BIO is pleased to present Anna this year with the Rosalind Franklin Award and we are looking forward to her delivering what are anticipated to be inspiring remarks.”

With the goal of showcasing the significant contributions of women in science, this prestigious Award calls attention to an accomplished scientist and her unique research and productivity in biotechnology. “We know that this Award honors all women in science, and provides a role model for those who will no doubt follow in her footsteps, Next Steps!” commented Karla Shepard Rubinger, Executive Director of the Rosalind Franklin Society.

Rosalind Franklin’s use of X-ray diffraction images led to the discovery of the double helix structure of DNA in 1953. Her work was published alongside but not recognized as a contributing factor to Francis Crick’s and James Watson’s model of the structure of DNA.

Anna will receive the award and give a plenary session talk at the upcoming BIO World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology plenary luncheon session on April 19, 2016 at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, California. A special selection committee chose Anna for her commitment to the advancement of the field of industrial biotechnology. 

In 2010, Anna founded NexSteppe to develop and commercialize optimized crops for renewable energy and fuel. In less than 5 years, Anna built NexSteppe from zero to a global team of over 40 people.

As her team grew, NexSteppe’s operations also expanded. Anna has established operations in the U.S., Brazil, Singapore, Europe and China plus research and production activities in Puerto Rico and Bolivia.

The company developed, registered, and launched its first hybrid seed products in Brazil in under three years. NexSteppe uses a combination of directed conventional breeding, marker-assisted breeding and cutting-edge analytical techniques to continuously improve its elite germplasm collection.  The company is also refining crop management practices and supply chain operations to provide optimized, fully-integrated feedstock solutions. 

This technology platform has allowed NexSteppe to become the leader in bioenergy sorghums, first in Brazil and now globally.  Commercial partners have trialed its products in more than twenty countries on five continents. Under Anna’s leadership, NexSteppe is laying a foundation for a sustainable and secure future for our economy, our environment, and our energy supply.

Anna was formerly Vice President of Commercial Development for Ceres, where she built and launched their energy crop business. Prior to Ceres, she was a consultant with McKinsey focused on corporate strategy, assessment of new business initiatives, and business building in various technology sectors.

She holds a JD from Yale Law School, an MS in Genetics from the University of Michigan and a BA in Biology from Macalester College. She also serves on the Biotechnology Innovation Organization’s Industrial and Environmental Section Governing Board.

Past recipients of the Franklin Award are Dr. Jennifer Holmgren, CEO, LanzaTech in 2015; Dr. Debbie Yaver, Director, Expression Technology, Genomics and Bioinformatics, Novozymes in 2014.

All programs at the World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology are open to attendance by members of the media. Complimentary media registration is available to editors and reporters working full time for print, broadcast or web publications with valid press credentials.

For more information on the conference, please visit www.bio.org/wc2016. For assistance, please contact worldcongress@bio.org.

About NexSteppe

NexSteppe is dedicated to pioneering the next generation of scalable, reliable, cost-effective and sustainable feedstock solutions for the biofuels, biopower, biogas and biobased products industries.  Through the development and commercialization of tailored crops and fully-integrated feedstock solutions, NexSteppe is laying a foundation for a more secure and sustainable future for our economy, our environment, and our energy supply. For more information, please visit: www.nexsteppe.com

About the Rosalind Franklin Society

The Rosalind Franklin Society is an interdisciplinary, international society, the goal of which is to have the strongest and most effective voice to ensure policies and practice to guarantee that women achieve more tenure-track appointments and leadership positions in academia, industry and government. The Board of 100 eminent men and women, including 5 Nobel Laureates, have embraced this imperative and the critical need for success. www.rosalindfranklinsociety.org

Upcoming BIO Events 

BIO-Europe Spring
April 4-6, 2016
Stockholm, Sweden

World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology
April 17-20, 2016
San Diego, CA

BIO International Convention
June 6-9, 2016
San Francisco, CA

13th Annual BIO Asia International Conference
March 15-16, 2016
Tokyo, Japan

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The crisis in British steel has been 40 years in the making


The crisis in the British steel industry is the result of four big trends in the economy over the past 40 years.

Issue number one has been the opening up of world markets in the process known as globalisation. In the decades immediately after the second world war, governments were able to protect their domestic steel industries through the use of high tariffs. Now they can’t.

Issue number two has been the rapid development of China as the world’s dominant manufacturing force. China has developed a massive steel industry and, until recently, the rapid growth of industry and the building of new infrastructure meant homegrown demand pretty much tallied with supply. But now it doesn’t because the Chinese economy has slowed and is becoming less biased towards manufacturing. China has excess capacity and is dumping its steel at below-market prices on the rest of the global economy.

Issue number three has been the European Union, which has been slow to respond to the threat posed by China and which has tough rules that make it hard (if not impossible) for countries to ride to the rescue of their steel industries. The view from Brussels is that there is little sense in propping up steel plants that are losing money when the world is awash with unwanted steel. Some countries, Italy for example, have found ways of getting round state aid rules by saying that financial support is designed to meet tougher EU environmental standards.

Issue number four has been UK government action, or rather the lack of it. Whitehall has not only saddled the UK steel industry with higher energy costs than those in Germany or France, it has been blocking proposals by some other EU countries to tackle Chinese dumping through higher tariffs.

These four issues have come together in a perfect storm that threatens to blow away what remains of the UK steel industry. This creates a big headache for the government, which will come under pressure from critics to do for the steel workers of Port Talbot what it did for the bankers of the City of London. With a referendum on EU membership coming up on 23 June, ministers will be wary of saying that they would like to do more but are being prevented by Brussels from doing so.

So what are the options? The government could start showing the steel sector the tender loving care so noticeable by its absence in the recent past. Every steel industry in the developed west has shrunk in the past 15 years: Britain’s decline has been particularly marked. Cutting energy costs and business rates would help, but it is probably too late for that.

If they wanted to step things up a notch, ministers could announce an action plan to help the steel industry while an anti-dumping action is taken against China at the World Trade Organisation, something that is likely to take at least a year. It would boost infrastructure spending and say, notwithstanding EU procurement rules, that it would bend over backwards to favour UK producers. In the current circumstances, with the referendum looking close, it might meet little opposition in Brussels.

Then there are the “big bang” options. The government could pay foreign owners to keep UK plants open, which in the case of Port Talbot would mean an open-ended taxpayer subsidy to Tata. Or it could decide to renationalise an industry that has been in private hands since Margaret Thatcher’s government sold it off in 1988. Make no mistake, though, whether in state or private hands, and whether Britain is inside the EU or not, the problems of the steel industry will not go away.
Source: The Guardian

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EU Gas Use Grows 4% in 2015: Eurogas

Natural gas consumption in the 28-nation European Union grew by some 4% last year to 426.3bn m3, according to latest estimates from Eurogas, the trade association representing 43 gas wholesale and distribution companies.

It was the first annual increase in four years, after gas use by 2014 in the EU plunged to levels last seen almost 20 years earlier with the finger of blame pointed squarely at the erosion by cheap coal imports of gas’s share of the power generation market.

Eurogas said on March 30 that the overall rise in 2015 gas use was mirrored by a rise in LNG imports. These increased by one-third in Italy and roughly doubled year-on-year into the Netherlands. Spot LNG prices were lower in 2015 than in 2014.

Overall, temperatures in 2015 were closer to the average than in 2014, which meant that residential demand for gas in heating saw net increases in a number of countries – including Germany for which national data were recently published.

Eurogas said that the capacity of the gas grids to handle fluctuations in demand for heating, and in some countries also cooling, once again highlighted the flexibility of gas as a fuel. It has also argued that gas is the natural partner to offset renewable energy’s intermittency.

Several other factors were at play, aside from weather, added Eurogas. France, Czech Republic and Slovakia witnessed some economic recovery, and hence a rise in 2015 industrial gas demand. Compressed natural gas (CNG) use in the Czech transport sector grew by 46%, a significant change albeit from a low base. Other countries however continued to see gas use by industry decline.

Lower gas prices also saw more gas used in UK power generation than in 2014, whilst Italy and Greece used more for summer air-conditioning. But cheap coal continued to erode gas’s share of the power market in the Netherlands, Germany and Ireland.

Overall, the Netherlands was the only country among the six largest EU gas markets to record a decline (-0.8%) in overall gas consumption. Germany, Italy, the UK, France and Spain all saw overall gains, although the UK’s was slight.

The highest 2015 growth was in Slovenia (up 22.5%) and Portugal (up 11.7%). The sharpest decline was in Estonia (-23.1%). It was followed by Finland (-10.8%) where Eurogas said that tax changes had discouraged gas consumption.

 European gas consumption, 2015


bn m3

% +/- 2014













Czech Republic


































































EU-28 *



 Other Europe    







Source: Eurogas preliminary data for 2015; * EU-28 includes Cyprus and Malta that have yet to receive gas supplies;

Eurogas data is based on terawatt hours (TWh) but the bn m3 figures provided above are its own, converted at 10.8 TWh per bn m3

Mark Smedley

Natural Gas Europe welcomes all viewpoints. Should you wish to provide an alternative perspective on the above article, please contact editor@minoils.com  

Kindly note that we only lightly edit content for grammar and do not edit externally contributed content.

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Yei farmers complain tractors sitting idle as rainy season begins

YEI (31 Mar.)

Farmers in Yei River county of Central Equatoria state have raised concerns over the delayed distribution of tractors to the community.

Earlier this year, the office of the president has sent at least twenty new tractors to Yei for the purpose of boosting food production and fight food insecurity, but so far they have not been put to use.

According to farmers, the absence of mechanised farming stands a major obstacle for them. They demanded that the government deploy the tractors as the rainy season begins.

“The rain has started and we are planning to begin as early as expected,” said one farmer. “If they are there just redundant without any use then the purpose of bringing them to the county has no meaning.”

The farmer added: “This year is a year of hunger and this hunger cannot be forced out using small hoes. The private tractors are rented out at a rate of 1,200 SSP which is so expensive for the farmers to afford.”

The farmer said the tractors were not brought to Yei to sit in town.

The farmer added that he blames the delay on the appointed authorities of the proposed Yei River State.

“We thought the delay was because those days we were still under Juba, but now that we are under new Yei River state and things are brought closer, I really don’t understand the delay,” the farmer said.

The state minister for agriculture and forestry Huda Michael Laila said the tractors would be distributed very soon.

“Let them be patient because this time when we give out these tractors they must be managed properly and multiply themselves. One word I want to say to the farmers last year the production was not good because of the rain. This time we need to prepare so that we need to increase our productivity and produce enough food this year,” he said.

Dara Felix, a civil society activist working for centre for democracy and development, recommended the distribution of the tractors through organised cooperative societies.

Dara said institutionalising and personalising tractors by the government will lead to misuse without tangible output.

“Our experience has shown that most of these tractors coming to our country have ended up being personalised and disappeared,” Dara said. “This time we are of the opinion that these tractors will best benefit the farmers if they are handed over to the cooperatives.” 

“It is a call up on leadership locally to ensure that farmers are organised in cooperatives,” Dara continued. “Secondly it’s important that these farmers develop sustainability plan. If it breaks down should we call President Salva Kiir to repair it? We need to think about sustainability plans so that when they are given to them should be able to work.”

Yei lies in South Sudan’s green belt region which has highly fertile soils.

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Tavant Technologies Named Top Innovative Technology Company Second Time in a Row

SANTA CLARA, Calif., March 31, 2016 /PRNewswire/ —

Recognized by HousingWire for its Game-Changing Mortgage Technology Experience

Tavant Technologies, America’s leading innovative mortgage technology provider, announced today that it has earned its place in HousingWire’s 2016 HW TECH100™ list, which highlights the housing economy’s top 100 technology innovators. This is the second time in a row that Tavant has been recognized for its leading-edge, customized mortgage technology solutions .

     (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20150306/732869 )

“Tavant Technologies has been committed to developing cutting-edge technology solutions that produce game-changing results for mortgage companies. Recognition from HousingWire for two consecutive years is truly an honor,” said Hassan Rashid, Executive Vice President, Global Sales and Marketing, Tavant Technologies.

Tavant has been selected for its Accelerated Portal Development Framework, which is a suite of advanced development patterns, frameworks, libraries and testing tools that provide an accelerated path to portal design, development, testing and production deployment. It allows Tavant to develop portals that are highly customized, configured and aligned with their customer’s needs but designed, developed and deployed in record time.

About Tavant Technologies: 

Headquartered in Santa Clara, California, Tavant Technologies is a specialized software solutions and services provider that provides impactful results to its customers across North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific. Founded in 2000, the company employs over 1500 people and is a recognized top employer.

As a key solutions provider to the Consumer Lending industry, Tavant has demonstrated expertise in helping mortgage firms convert more leads, cut costs and retain borrowers.

Find Tavant Technologies on LinkedIn and on Twitter.

About HousingWire: 

HousingWire is the nation’s most influential industry news source covering the U.S. housing economy, spanning residential mortgage lending, servicing, investments and real estate operations. The company’s news, commentary, magazine content, industry directories and events give more than one million industry professionals each year the insight they need to make better, more informed business decisions. Winner of numerous awards, including a 2012 Eddie Award for national editorial excellence in the B2B Banking/Business/Finance category, HousingWire has been recognized for excellence in journalism by the Society of Business Editors and Writers, the American Society of Business Press Editors, the National Association of Real Estate Editors and Trade Association Business Publications International. Learn more at http://www.housingwire.com.

For further information, please contact:
Vibhor Mishra
Tavant Technologies

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