Our work is funded by both national and international agencies, often including industrial partners. Click on the links below for more information about our (current) projects.
AppliSurf (VIS-project) – running
AppliSurf focuses on expanding the functional portfolio of biosurfactants. The research partners that will contribute to this project are Ghent University (Faculty Bioscience Engineering InBio.be, Faculty Green Chemistry and Technology SynBioc and Honeybee Valley), Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant (BBEPP), Flanders Materials Centre (FLAMAC) and the Radius research group of Thomas More College, Campus Geel. The project is coordinated by Flanders Biobased Valley. You can read more about it here (Dutch) and here (English).
BioNANA (IWT O&O) – running
Carbosurf (EU BBI-JU) – running
The project targets the development of innovative fermentation processes to produce different glycolipid biosurfactants (such as rhamnolipids, sophorolipids, xylolipids and mannosylerythritol-lipids) with a wide range of application fields and specialty carbohydrates, i.e. complex human milk oligosaccharides that find applications as neutraceutical, pharmaceutical and cosmetic ingredients. For both product lines, microbial producer strains are developed through metabolic engineering. Next, fermentation processes and down-stream processing will be developed and optimized to obtain an industrial process. Finally, second generation technology based on lignocellulosic substrates will also be developed.
Beyond the development of new processes or solving technical bottlenecks sufficient amounts of the new products will be produced for application testing, to evaluate their market potential in a wide range of application fields. The technical, economic, environmental and social sustainability of the process over the whole value chain from biomass to product application will also be assessed, with an emphasis on identifying and addressing the bottlenecks in the innovation chain. A valorization plan will be drafted to complete the innovation process.
InBio.be is coordinating the H2020 BBI-JU CarboSurf project. It will create and optimize microbial strains to produce biosurfactants and specialty carbohydrates. It will also develop screening techniques and engineering tools which will allow to efficiently produce these strains. Moreover, it will make an assessment of the IP situation for each product in each application field, and draft a dissemination and exploitation plan.
This 3-year project has 11 partners including several large industrial partners from 4 European countries.
Erg11 (FWO) – running
In this project we aim to understand the genetics and molecular biology of bimodal targeting of proteins in yeast. Whereas this mechanism has been described in mammalian cells, this is the first time that it has been found in yeasts. Bimodal targeting furthermore takes part in the acquisition of drug resistance in pathogenic yeasts, an aspect which is also addressed. Therefore, the focus of this project is on unraveling the basic mechanisms of bimodal targeting in yeasts and the development of possible therapeutics.
Stabosurf (IWT-IM) – finished 2016
The aim of the project was to develop a portfolio of yeast strains producing (new-to-nature) bio-surfactants with adequate selectivity (uniform products) and productivity (Phase I, at InBio.be) in order to broaden the structural variety of available bio-surfactants in the market. In Phase II (at the Biobase Europe Pilot Plant), investigating the process parameters for the industrial production (cultivation and DSP) of these molecules with the obtained strains, combined with an economic feasibility study, will enable commercialization of these bio-surfactants by the BBEPP after the end of the project.
Biosurfing (EU FP7) – finished 2016
The Biosurfing project aimed to create new-to-nature and tailor-made biosurfactants through metabolic engineering of the unconventional yeast Candida bombicola. Despite the clear advantages of biosurfactants, their overall use is hampered by the lack of structural variation. This is in sharp contrast to chemically produced surfactants where one can introduce variation by simply changing the building blocks. This project aimed to alleviate this fundamental limitation by developing a generic biotechnological production technology for glycolipid biosurfactants. This in turn significantly broadened the range of commercial biosurfactants, satisfying the need for structural diversity in the market. It is expected that this technology will result in a breakthrough penetration of glycolipid biosurfactants in the overall surfactant market, in this way helping to build the bio-based economy.
The very efficient biosurfactant producing yeast C. bombicola was metabolically engineered such that all structural parts of the glycolipid biosurfactant molecule can be controlled: fatty acid tail, sugar moiety, acetylation and lactonization. Strains were be evaluated by several ‘omics’ approaches: proteomics, transcriptomics and metabolomics. For each target molecule, a fermentation process was developed and the molecules are evaluated for various applications (cleaning and cosmetics, medics and nanoscience) in follow-up projects.
InBio.be coordinated this 4 million EUR project, partnering a complementary consortium of European academic and industrial partners (including a large participation of SMEs) that covered the whole range of required expertises.
IB2Market (EU FP7) – finished 2016
IB2Market aimed to bring industrial biotechnology from the research lab to the market and to solve the bottle-necks in industrialization. The project covered process development, scale up, market exploration and the drafting of a valorization plan to support a successful market introduction.
Specifically, the project targeted the development, scale-up, market exploration and market introduction of new industrial biotechnology processes that had recently been developed to produce the following compounds:
- BIOSURFACTANTS, tension-active ingredients with a wide range of applications. More specific, the project targeted bola-sophorolipids, a completely new type of biosurfactant
- SPECIALTY CARBOHYDRATES, mainly for pharmaceutical and cosmetic applications. IB2Market targeted L-fucose and fucosylated oligosaccharides that are difficult to produce through extraction or chemical synthesis.
For both product lines, the fermentation process and downstream processing were optimized and scaled up to 15.000 liter scale. Sufficient amounts of product were produced for application testing and exploratory marketing, in order to identify the most interesting market segments. The technical, economic and environmental sustainability of the process from biomass to product application was assessed, with particular emphasis on identifying and solving the bottlenecks in the innovation chain. A valorization plan was drafted to complete all the steps of the innovation chain. This 6 million EUR project was executed by a consortium of partners from 4 European countries. Together with several follow-up projects it will result in the industrialization and commercialization of the developed products and processes.