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Chinese chemical firm invests €5.5m in Danish biotech start-up to develop new biochemicals.

“We strongly believe the future of biotechnology. We have great strategic interests in expanding our biotechnology-based product portfolio by partnering with biotechnology companies.”

Chinese chemical company Zhejiang NHU has invested €5.5 million in Danish biotech company CysBio to develop novel and affordable biochemicals. CysBio is producing its biochemicals through what it calls a sustainable fermentation process.

Through advanced synthetic biology and metabolic engineering approaches microorganisms are engineered to convert simple sugars into desired biochemical products. This makes it possible to produce expensive chemicals at very attractive cost levels, according to CysBio. It also enables the production of novel or rare biochemicals.

The products will have applications in a variety of areas such as food, feed, nutrition, pharma, cosmetics and polymer industries.

“Our technologies enable CysBio to create some of the cheapest biochemicals available, as well as some very exciting new products with novel applications as functional chemical building blocks,” said Alex Toftgaard Nielsen, CSO and co-founder of CysBio and Professor at the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability (DTU), which is based at the Technical University of Denmark.

According to the DTU (@DTUtweet), its research has made it possible to modify and engineer the bacteria’s metabolism, thus, making them able to produce specific amino acids and sulphated biochemicals.

“This investment from NHU (@NHUcompany) demonstrates how DTU’s innovation eco-system has successfully assisted in translating academic research into a privately funded spin-out company with a strong technology platform,” explained Marianne Thellersen, Senior Vice President for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at DTU.

According to the DTU, the technology platform paves the way for producing compounds used for new polymer materials with new functionalities such as conductivity and adhesiveness.

‘Greener alternatives’

CysBio is also producing an alternative to chemically-produced pesticides to prevent the growth of bacteria and fungus on surfaces of various kinds. CysBio said it expected to “produce greener alternatives that can replace the use of harsh chemicals in many different market segments”.

“We aim at becoming a leading provider of functional biochemical monomers and the partnership with a leading company like Zhejiang NHU will allow a fast market introduction of parts of this technology,” said Henrik Meyer, CEO and co-founder of CysBio.

He added: “Our strategy will clearly be to enable our technologies to be exploited quickly and effectively through R&D and commercial partnerships.”

The Danish biotechnology company plans to get its first products on the market at the beginning of 2020.

According to the DTU, some of the key targets for the proprietary sulfation technology will be methods for improving the solubility and bioavailability (the proportion of a drug or other substance which enters the circulation when introduced into the body and so is able to have an active effect) of some existing drugs and nutraceuticals, thereby increasing the efficacy of the drugs.

“This will help in solving the problem of developing new pharmaceuticals, so we also see great potential in collaborating closely with partners in the pharma industry,” said Toftgaard Nielsen.

For the stock-listed Chinese chemical company Zhejiang NHU, with global operations and subsidiaries in Europe, the seed investment in CysBio also opens up for exploring new opportunities in the market.

“We strongly believe the future of biotechnology,” said Bai Fan Hu, Chairman of Zhejiang NHU. “We have great strategic interests in expanding our biotechnology-based product portfolio by partnering with biotechnology companies. We look forward to assisting CysBio in their growth and further product development.”


You may also be interested in reading…

Read: Expert View: How China is catching up with the US in new applications of synthetic biology.

Read: Expert View: How synthetic biology offers solutions for Mars colonization.

Read: Synthetic biology breakthrough could ignite cheaper biofuel production.

Read: US scientists harness synthetic biology to co-produce high-value compounds in plants.

Visit: SynBio Markets (Berlin, 18-19 November 2019) 

NEW!: And available to download issue #13 of the Bio Market Insights Quarterly 

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