On September 18, 2020, our co-founder and scientific advisor
Dr. Arren Bar-Even
passed away. It is hard to put into words what we are losing with Arren.
His death came as a great surprise to everyone and much too soon.
Arren was a visionary, an outstanding scientist and a tireless fighter for a better world. No challenge was too big for him, so he rather dedicated his science to the grand challenges of mankind. One major challenge facing humanity that he recognized early on was the secure supply of food and materials on our planet. He realized that current economic paths and resource consumption could not keep up with the projected growth of the world population.
This was impetus enough for him to research new sustainable ways. So, during his doctoral thesis at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, he looked at a basic comparison of metabolic pathways to fix CO2 efficiently in natural and synthetic metabolic pathways. He came up with a new metabolic pathway that clearly outperformed natural photosynthesis. Together with his colleagues in the Ron Milo Lab, he invented the reductive glycine pathway (rGP), which has the potential to fix and utilize CO2 more efficiently than natural photosynthesis can do. In doing so, he connected the biological world with the engineering world. For the first time, he showed that the combination of technical electrolysis and fermentation could be an energetically efficient and economically interesting path. Arren created the term Formate Bioeconomy. This is precisely the value creation path that b.fab is now pursuing. Formate Bioeconomy is a sustainable biotechnology that technically mimics the natural CO2 cycle while being much more efficient and not consuming agricultural land.
Arren has continued his research as an independent group leader at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Plant Physiology in Golm (Germany). There, he led a group of nearly 30 scientists and published close to 90 scientific papers. In 2018, he and his team achieved the world’s first in vivo demonstration of the reductive glycine pathway in E. coli. Arren’s scientific vision and charisma was also expressed in the successful recruitment and execution of seven national and European research projects (BMBF, Horizon 2020). During his time in Golm/Berlin, he founded two start-ups (including b.fab) and chaired the German Association of Synthetic Biology (GASB).
We got to know and appreciate Arren in 2017. He quickly convinced us that his path of Formate Bioeconomy was promising. Therefore, together we founded our company b.fab already in early 2018 to turn his ideas of a sustainable biotechnology into reality. His early death is a huge loss for us. However, we are determined to continue his spirit and ingenious ideas as a tribute to him and to duly position the Formate Bioeconomy in the industrial biotechnology field for a more sustainable economy.
Arren, we miss you.
Rest in peace.