Green chemistry critical for ‘Pitch Perfect’ boost to bioeconomy

A boost to the European bioeconomy is needed as geopolitical uncertainty across the region has reached new highs with the Ukraine War, the effects of which have global ramifications. Investment in green chemistry is imperative as Russian gas supply chains in Europe are revealed as being highly unreliable and unsustainable. The ‘Pitch Perfect’ event held each year in Brussels fosters green chemistry solutions and match-makes partners to enable the circular, biobased economy.

Boost needed for green chemistry scale-up

Europe is working hard to promote solutions and technologies for the circular, bio-based economy. The Belgian-based Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant organises the ‘Pitch Perfect and Boost the European Bioeconomy’ event in Brussels to foster cross-border and cross-sectoral pitching, matchmaking, and networking. The Bio Base Europe Pilot offers its services in industrial process development, scale-up and custom manufacturing of bio-based products.

To avert reliance on fossil fuels, it is imperative to boost European biotechnology scale-up and downstream processing capacity for the production of the many chemicals we need for our most basic, daily products.

Many of these fossil-derived products are currently missing from our supply chains, like pharmaceuticals and fertilisers, due to the shortage of natural gas feedstocks to produce ammonia that was covered in this SUSFERT blog.

Biobased European economy, job-creation

Our SUSFERT Slovenian partner, AciesBio, is responsible for the scale-up and downstream technologies for the efficient formulation of microbial based iron-chelator fermentation technology for the evolvement of bio-based fertilisers on the project.

AciesBio Senior R&D Manager, Martin Kavšček, presented the SUSFERT technology and the company’s other solutions for sustainable agriculture and the food chain (see slide above) to the Pitch Perfect audience with the aim of creating new future partnerships. He was joined at the event by SUSFERT Project Manager, Mikael Muegge, from RTDS Vienna.

AciesBio invested in a fermenter last year to increase the company’s bio-process capacity to address the bottlenecks that they were facing in the scale-up process. The fermenter was partially-funded by the BBI-JU. Listen to Kavšček talk about scale-up.

AciesBio Senior R&D Manager, Martin Kavšček, at Pitch Perfect in Brussels earlier this week.

SUSFERT siderophore boosts sustainable iron entry

AciesBio is working in collaboration with ABiTEP and Groupe Roullier to deliver microbial siderophore for the final fertiliser products.  Microbial siderophores are intrinsic to sustainable iron entry for crop uptake.

A previous SUSFERT blog explained that “usually, there is plenty of iron supply in soils, but the limestone soils of the Mediterranean region have less iron availability for plants. The SUSFERT siderophores can substitute less biodegradable synthetic ones currently being used”.

More news on this topic will published later in the year.

Challenges of biotech R&D

Acies Bio Director for Research & Development, Gregor Kosec. Picture courtesy of AciesBio.

SUSFERT partner, Acies Bio Director for Research & Development, Gregor Kosec, speaking before the European Forum for Industrial Biotechnology (EFIB) last year, said that the time was ripe for synthetic biology and industrial biotechnology.

“Never before have so many hopes been laid into our ability to partner with nature and engineer microbes to produce most of the things that make our life comfortable, and that we are currently generating from fossil fuels. The need and desire to change is finally here among most developed economies and societies,” Kosec said.

“But I ask myself whether biotech R&D is living up to the challenge. The past two decades have seen an enormous increase in our capacity to harness and artificially generate a great diversity of enzymes, metabolic pathways and microbial cells at ever-decreasing costs. We are seeing fantastic scientific breakthroughs in the types of bioproducts that cell factories can produce, from new medicines to fragrances, colourants, agriculture biologicals and more.”

“Nevertheless, we are still not seeing industrial biotechnology, on a massive scale, outcompeting 20th-century chemical production processes based on fossil fuels and depreciated production facilities.”

He continued that the bottlenecks were able to be overcome using Acies Bio’s integrated SmartRoute R&D platform by bringing value to SynBio platforms and projects like OneCarbonBioTM or SUSFERT. “We are able to quickly advance towards commercially applicable technology by combining our passion for understanding diverse microbes, automating phenotype selection procedures on microfluidic scale and quickly scaling up to several m3 scale,” he explained.