It is one of the most prestigious innovation awards in Germany: On November 17, 2021, the German President Dr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier awarded the Zukunftspreis 2021/Federal President’s Award. In a multi-level selection process from a multitude of projects, the jury of the Federal President’s Award decided in September on these three teams of researchers and their innovations for the final round of the prize:
Although Dr. Carla Recker, Dr. Dirk Prüfer and Dr. Christian Schulze Gronover have not been awarded with the Federal President’s award for the Taraxagum project this year, Continental is very proud to have been nominated for this award.
Our compliments go to this year’s winner BioNTech and their research teams for the development of mRNA vaccines
”We are highly honored to be among the finalists of this prestigious award from the German Federal President,“ says Dr. Carla Recker, Head of the Expertfield Materials Chemistry at Continental Tires. ”Our nomination demonstrates once again the potential of our project, which contributes to solving societal challenges by providing an alternative and sustainable source of raw material for natural rubber. To make our tires even more sustainable in the future, a raw material source based on renewable or recycled materials and offering an improved energy and CO2 balance is essential."
Since 2011, the project team of Tires, University of Münster and Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology has been jointly developing a process for extracting natural rubber from dandelions grown locally instead of ones that have to be imported from distant tropical regions.
"It is great to see how our basic research is contributing to the development of a commercially viable rubber plant," says Dr. Dirk Prüfer, Professor of Plant Biotechnology at the University of Münster. "The fact that we will also be able to contribute to the future protection of tropical forests through the domestic cultivation of dandelions is even more gratifying. For climate stability in particular, these natural areas are of the utmost importance."
"Without the help of courageous, motivated, and forward-looking people in all areas of the project, we would never have come this far. I see us as pioneers in how we can increasingly generate innovations with and from plants for a sustainable, biobased economy and life in Germany in the future," says Dr. Christian Schulze Gronover, Head of Research at the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME, Münster.
Previous successes were based on decoding the biosynthesis of rubber and other traits in the roots of the Russian dandelion. In addition, conventional, knowledge-based breeding has enabled the plant to be further developed for agricultural use. New harvesting and processing techniques enable continuous expansion for the production of high-quality tires with natural rubber from dandelion. The first series product made from dandelion rubber - the "Urban Taraxagum" bicycle tire - is already on the market.