Geschichte des SKB und der Biotechnologie in Europa

First Congress of the European Federation of Biotechnology held in 1978 in Interlaken

Richard Braun, Bern (

The concept of biotechnology was introduced into the world of science and technology in the first half of  the past century; in the second half the concept developed further, being inspired by miccrobiology, chemistry and fermentation technology. So it became important to erect a roof over these diverse fields. To this end the European Federation of Biotechnology was inaugurated in Interlaken (Switzerland) on September 25, 1978 during ECB1.

The introductory presentations display a broad concept. The opening address was given by Prof. Hugo Aebi (Bern), then head of the Swiss National Research Council. This organisation had previously shown that biotechnology was an area requiring special support. He suggested that Biotechnology and Microbiology would be important in maintaining and improving the world’s food security.

Other participants including Prof. H.I.Rehm (Münster D) felt that the discovery and large scale production of penicillin was a turning point in the development of biotechnology. He hoped that the interaction of different fields like chemistry, microbiology and medecine would lead to new insights and new technologies which would lead to new practical applications.

Prof. Heinrich Ursprung (president ETH, Zürich) laid stress on the social responsibility of scientists in general, with a brief mention of genetic engineering as a field where discourse with the public would be important. He considered biology as a natural science, whilst for him biotechnology was an engineering field. He did, however, recognise that progress in the world of biology depended to a large extent on technical innovation such as chemical separation techniques using ultracentrifuges and other sophisticated pieces of equipment. He ended his talk with the wish that scientists would take their role in the world seriously and assume responsibility for their actions; „Man has risen to responsibility, may he behave so“. He wished that the EFB and its members take their social responsibilities seriously.

The first speaker to give a technical review talk was Prof. Armin Fiechter. He had been the central driving force for the congress and also, in general, for the promotion of biotechnology in Switzerland. He formed a network of similarly interested academics throughout Europe, a network which became vital to starting the EFB. His talk was highly technical presenting many experimental results on fermentor design and operation.

The congress (ECB1) brought together around 700 scientists who presented some 11 general talks, about 60 short communications and roughly 60 poster presentations.


  1. Dechema Monographien 1693-1703, Band 82, Biotechnology
  2. Verlag Chemie, 1978, 304 Seiten, ISSN 0070-315X, ISBN 3-527-10765-7
  3. Nationalbibliothek Bern, Biotechnology 156231

Complete List of all European Congresses on Biotechnolgy 1978-2018

  • ECB1 Interlaken, Switzerland 25–29 September 1978
  • ECB2 Eastbourne, England 5–10 April 1981
  • ECB3 München, Germany 10–14 September 1984
  • ECB4 Amsterdam, The Netherlands 14–19 June 1987
  • ECB5 Copenhagen, Denmark 8–14 August 1990
  • ECB6 Florence, Italy June 13–17 1993
  • ECB7 Nice, France, 19–23 February 1995
  • ECB8 Budapest, Hungary 17–21 August 1997
  • ECB9 Brussels, Belgium 11–15 July 1999
  • ECB10 Madrid, Spain 8–11 July 2001
  • ECB11 Basel, Switzerland 24–29 August 2003
  • ECB12 Copenhagen, Denmark 21–24 August 2005
  • ECB13 Barcelona, Spain 16–19 September 2007
  • ECB14 Barcelona, Spain 13–16 September 2009
  • ECB15 Istanbul, Turkey 23–26 September 2012
  • ECB16 Edinburgh, Scotland 13–16 July 2014
  • ECB17 Cracow, Poland 3–6 July 2016
  • ECB18 Geneva, 1–4 July, 2018