Sixteen universities and European Research Centers will open up access to its facilities to research staff and companies in the field of industrial biotechnology, in the framework of the European project IBISBA 1.0 (Industrial Biotechnology Innovation and Synthetic Biology Accelerator 1.0).
The project, which will last for four years and will have a budget of five million euros, aims to develop innovative projects that increase the efficiency, competitiveness and sustainability of the bioproductive processes and, at the same time, to promote the transition to the bioeconomy and the circular economy.
«Biotechnology is a unique opportunity to replace chemical processes by more sustainable ones based on the use of renewable raw materials. The use of science and engineering to develop industrial processes to promote a more green chemistry, both in obtaining chemicals such as biofuels «, explains Joan Albiol, professor and researcher in the Department of Chemical Engineering, Biological and Environmental of the UAB.
«Europe is a leader in this field, but to promote the transition to the bioeconomy, we need to produce more innovative bioprocesses and therefore, industrial biotechnology must be backed by a research infrastructure organized to provide services of transnational research», says Albiol.
The IBISBA 1.0 integrates infrastructure and laboratories of leading institutions in biotechnology in France, Belgium, Germany, Finland, Spain, Italy, Greece, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. All of them made available its facilities to promote research and innovation in the development of bioprocesses, offering cutting-edge technologies and equipment covering a wide variety of experimental operations and disciplines. The UAB in spain, for example, will provide the pilot plant of fermentation and different laboratories of the Department of Biological and Environmental Chemical Engineering.
Through the launch of five calls, the IBISBA 1.0 open access to these facilities free of charge. It is estimated that, throughout the project, around a hundred researchers will benefit from the infrastructures of these centers.
One of the major objectives of the project is to improve the processes of R&D for companies and make that biotechnology more attractive and less costly for the manufacturing sector. For this reason, the IBISBA 1.0 aims to facilitate access also from industry to its integrated offer of state-of-the-art facilities. With the only restriction that will be able to offer services to companies in the same country. In this activity it will have an important role the UAB Research Park, which will be in charge of boosting the transfer of knowledge between the research staff and industry.
In order to be able to offer an integrated service, a good part of the project activity will be devoted to develop methodologies that are reproducible in any of the laboratories of the network, with a level of equivalent quality. In addition, carry out what is called the duty cycle (Design-Build-Test-Learn Dbtl) in synthetic biology, which allows self-learning of new knowledge to incorporate them into the following layouts. That is, it will take a process as a model and will continue to be all stages of the cycle in different laboratories of the IBISBA.
In this way, laboratories that designed genetic modifications, others that built-producing strains, others used to produce the product and, finally, the data will be analyzed with the intention to optimize the process and repeat the cycle so improved. «Given the high technology and automation involved, as well as the distribution of processes in different European laboratories, this task is presented as a challenge, but will ensure that the service offered to the industry, by any of the laboratories, is within the highest quality levels of the European Union «, says Joan Albiol.
The products that can be developed by means of industrial biotechnology are very varied. For example, allows to create processes from renewable raw materials of plant origin as a replacement for other based on oil and its derivatives, both to obtain biofuels such as chemicals. Other areas of application are preservatives, additives in food and pharmaceutical products of massive use, such as antibiotics .
Some cases of success which have already been made in the infrastructure of the IBISBA are the development of an enzymatic technology more efficient and sustainable for the biodegradation of plastics, the design of a metabolic pathway more optimal for the DHB (gentisic acid molecule, which is important for the animal feed industry, used as an antioxidant), the optimization of an industrial process to produce natural amoebae (a biocidal product capable of eliminating the risk of Legionella bacteria present in biofilms), the development of enzymatic processes in non-aqueous media, the production of recombinant enzymes known as «lipases» (present in some cleaning products), or the development of a yeast capable of Use CO2 to produce different molecules of high value in the chemical industry.
The project IBISBA 1.0 is composed by the Center for Biological Research (IBC) and the National Center of Biotechnology (CNB) of the Superior Council of Scientific Research (CSIC) from Spain ; the National Institute of Agronomic Research (INRA), the National Institute of Applied Sciences in Toulouse (INSA), the University of Nantes and the Commissariat for Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies (CEA) and the INRA Transfert S.A, from France; the Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO) of Belgium, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and enterprises and Lifeglimmer Knime.Com from Germany, the Technical Research Center of Finland (VTT), the National Research Council (NRC) of Italy; the National Technical University of Athens, Greece; the University Of Manchester, United Kingdom, and Wageningen University, the Netherlands.
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