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We create microbial production platforms for high-value chemicals: a bio-based alternative to synthetic chemical production. Combining classical fermentation and computational modelling, we have revolutionised the microbial strain engineering process
Groningen, Groningen, Netherlands
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One of the in-house strains under development at EV Biotech is for the production of terpenes. Terpenes are used as aromatic agents in cosmetics and food products. As more than 55.000 different terpenes have been identified, EV Biotech is developing a platform organism for the flexible production of terpenes. Small alterations in the DNA of the platform organism will result in the production of a different terpene, thus the in-house strain would be easily tailored to the wishes of the client.
What are terpenes
Terpenes are hydrocarbons originally produced by plants, either to attract pollinators with a pleasant odour or to repel invaders with antibacterial properties. This pleasant odour is the reason why terpenes are used in the flavour and fragrance industry. Terpenes evaporate easily, making them suitable as fragrance ingredients or flavour enhancers. Products in which terpenes are used include cosmetics, perfumes, detergents, beverages and confectioneries. Linalool, for example, is often used in perfumes for its lavender or bergamot scent. Menthol, on the other hand, is used in toothpaste and mouthwash for its minty character.
Why terpenes are of interest
Over the past 5 years there has been a growth in demand for ‘natural’ ingredients in the flavour and fragrance industry. The use of natural terpenes as flavour and fragrance ingredient has simultaneously increased and its market value is expected to keep rising over the next 5 years with a compound annual growth rate of 5.1%. Terpenes are naturally extracted from plant material, but the yield of terpenes per kg of material is low. Therefore, it is not the most economical and sustainable way of producing natural flavour and fragrance ingredients. Producing these terpenes via microorganisms, similar to brewing beer, allows us to have a higher yield of the terpenes without being dependent on harvest and seasonality. According to the EC No. 1334/2008 regulation of the European parliament for food additives and the COSMOS standard for cosmetics, the final products including terpenes produced by microorganisms are considered natural. In addition, the use of microorganisms for the production of compounds is more sustainable than the classical chemical synthesis, as it consumes less energy and resources and produces less waste.
Terpenes at EV Biotech
At EV Biotech, we are currently working on the development of a microorganism that produces Geraniol, a terpene used in perfumes for its mild, rose and floral notes. Geraniol is one of four terpenes that drives the expected market growth for monoterpenes. Using this terpene we want to showcase the potential of this platform organism and EV Biotech’s unique pipeline. A CarbonFootPrint analysis performed by Rob van Haren from Color&Brain BV showed that EV Biotech’s innovative process of producing terpenes has 5 to 11 times less greenhouse emissions than a standard plant extraction. Together with our collaborators, we are discussing upscaling the project to pilot scale. We have been working on the production of geraniol via this platform strain for only two months and even though we cannot say much about the current stage of development, let’s just say our laboratory smells like roses…
Securing clients is an essential part of any business, especially in start-ups aiming to transition from being dependent on funds to becoming a sustainable business. At EV Biotech, our multi-year phased process for strain development may seem like a daunting prospect where if the project begins, one is tied to the full process until its completion. However, this could not be farther from the truth. To showcase our client journey, we have broken it down for you in six steps below.
1. Introducing EV Biotech
When one thinks of a start-up, one may imagine a group of driven individuals working on the next innovative solution and chasing after clouds. This is partly true at EV Biotech, as we are practical and understand our bottom line of delivering actionable results to our clients and stakeholders. Since our inception, we have diligently worked to develop and optimise our algorithms, translating our in-silico development into viable microbial strain factories. As such, we have now developed four proof-of-concept strains, two of which are ready for pilot scale and for further optimisation to meet client demands.
With our pipelines and strains ready, over the past few months we have been active in our promotion of our services and participating in conferences to showcase how we can help facilitate the transition to a greener future.
2. Scoping discussion
Whether you have come to know of EV Biotech through business development initiatives, our social media marketing or from word-of-mouth, we welcome discussions to outline what EV Biotech can offer you for your research and innovation needs. Our initial introduction will paint you the landscape in which EV Biotech works and how our synergistic approach to strain engineering is the catalyst towards a greener future.
Continuing the introductory meeting, signing an NDA to allow room for further discussion, we will walk you through the process of how we would look to proceed with your project and compound of interest. Defining expected timelines and milestones from our preliminary scoping study, we outline what our approach will deliver for you.
3. Feasibility Study
For us at EV Biotech, we see the feasibility study as the most important step, where we can showcase our innovative solution. When undertaking a Feasibility Study, our team prepares a detailed report on whether the desired strain development is technically as well as financially feasible to proceed. What does this mean? We provide a techno-economic analysis, forecasting the financial viability of the strain in relation to current market prices of the compound, and whether our services will be able to ensure profitability of developing the strain . As our parameters are tailored to meet your request and capacity, we aim to provide you a thorough risk assessment on whether the project is worthwhile proceeding with the next phase of EV Biotech development.
Following the delivery of the Feasibility Report, we will sit down for a Go/No-Go meeting to discuss the next steps of the project. At the meeting, we define together whether to continue with the project. We also look to finalise the Term Sheet and define the IP rights pertaining to the project to ensure clarity on where the IP rights lie during the project.
4. Modelling + Strain Engineering
In short, the bread-and-butter of our services. We offer our integrated solution of innovative in-silico modelling and in-house strain engineering as part of our upscaling determinant.
We utilise our standardized organism design protocol, which involves iterative modelling, genetic design, engineering and experimental stages. We will create an organism design strategy taking the following optimization steps into account: genetic design, media design, enzyme design, protease analysis and potential knock-out, and by-product management. Each of these steps are tested in the wet lab and the generated data are integrated into the selected model to refine prediction and redirect experimental strategies.
After each iteration of the Modelling + Strain Engineering phase, we will meet with our client to provide an update on the status of the project and outline our next steps.
5. Tech Transfer
At last – after multiple iterations of the Modelling + Strain Engineering phases to optimise the strain and scaling up to desired pilot size, we will deliver the strain to the defined pilot facility. From here, we will work in tangent with your in-house fermentation experts to ensure our strains deliver the yields we have demonstrated in-house. Following the transfer of strains and guidance from our in-house experts, we will provide follow-up services for three months to mitigate any incidents which may occur.
6. Post-project consultancy
Delivering our final strain and helping facilitate the transition to your facility of choice seems like a done deal. However, we do not want to leave our strain without offering maintenance if something goes wrong. Therefore we offer strain management consultancy to ensure if problems occur, we are able to rectify the solution
And of course, if you are happy with what we have offered and delivered, we are always open for further project discussions.
As a client, you are in control of the project and our services are fine-tuned to ensure your demands are met.
Curious to know how we can offer tailored strain engineering solutions for your next R&D project? Contact our Business Developer, Taichi Ochi at email@example.com