Author Archives: Jen Vanderhoven

Industrial Biorenewables: A Practical Viewpoint

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Book Launch:Industrial Biorenewables: A Practical Viewpoint – Pablo Dominguez de Maria

This book provides a state-of-the-art perspective on industrial biorenewables. A selection of industries dealing with biomass as raw materials present their activities and industrial processes. Emphasis on each chapter includes, and is not limited to: discussion of the motivation of that specific industry to use biorenewables; a short history of their expertise and developments in the field; selected current R&D activities using biomass, the aim of the research, type of biomass used, catalysts, achieved products, economics, etc.; detailed discussions of the type of biomass, indicating 1st or 2nd generation, and options to substitute 1st generation raw materials for more sustainable 2nd generation ones; current processes that have been or are about to be implemented at industrial and commercial scales; expectations such as where potential improvements could be made and where academic research groups could help provide pre-competitive and industrially-sound insights and research; and finally, conclusions, prospects, and recommendations for future directions of research.,subjectCd-EG30.html

Last CBMNet Business Interaction Voucher Awarded

Last CBMNet Business Interaction Voucher (BIV) Awarded

We have been really pleased by the response we have received to our BIV funding calls over the past 2 years and today we awarded our last available voucher.

Congratulations to Dr Boyan Bonev from the University of Nottingham and DuPont on their project ‘Membrane stability and disruption by chimeric antimicrobial peptides’.

Project Summary

A safe and nutritious food supply is essential to the growing global population. This project will engineer nature-inspired antimicrobials to control food spoilage by increasingly adaptive bacteria. To enhance the efficiency and versatility of these compounds we will combine potent natural molecules with unique tags for selective targeting of bacteria. Industrial production of these enhanced antimicrobial molecules relies on biofermentation using engineered bacteria, which in turn requires an understanding of the interactions between the antimicrobials and the producer organisms and then adaptation of either producer strain, antimicrobial product or both to maintain high industrial yields without compromising the activity of the product or significantly increasing manufacturing costs.

In this project we aim to investigate the mode of interaction between engineered antimicrobials and standard production strains and to compare to known spoilage pathogens. The project will also seek understanding of the molecular mechanisms underpinning toxicity of the engineered compounds to the producer bacteria and a comparison to their action on pathogens.

Corporate Stakeholder Research report 2016

BBSRC publishes ‘Corporate Stakeholder Research report 2016’

In October 2016 the BBSRC commissioned ComRes to undertake research to gauge stakeholder perceptions of the organisation and measure any change in attitudes since 2014, when an initial wave of benchmarking research was conducted.

The overall aim of this research was twofold: to help BBSRC understand how it is perceived externally, and assess our performance since the 2014 benchmarking research.

Within this, the specific objectives were:

  • Measuring BBSRC success in increasing engagement with key stakeholders over time in delivering key objectives set out in our corporate communications and engagement strategy
  • Giving a clear picture of how key stakeholders currently view their relationships with BBSRC
  • Identifying areas where current relationships can be developed, strengthened and maintained
  • Understanding why key stakeholders want to engage with BBSRC and what deliverables they expect from us
  • Identifying areas where attitudes have shifted and understand how BBSRC activities have affected this
  • Identifying other stakeholders with which BBSRC should be better connected

You can view the results of the research here.

Algal Solutions For Local Energy Economy (ASLEE) PROJECT

Algal Solutions For Local Energy Economy (ASLEE) Project

The Atlantic coast of Scotland has some of the best renewable energy generation potential in Europe, but developments are being compromised by grid constraints. This is severely hindering economic development in some of our most vulnerable communities. New uses for electricity in areas that are currently grid constrained would enable an increase in both renewable energy use and industry – creating community resilience, income generation and employment. The ASLEE project was one of 9 chosen for funding support from Scottish Government in the 2016 Local Energy Challenge Fund competition.

This ground-breaking £2 million, 2-year R&D project will build experimental and industrial scale pilot units whilst investigating a number of further sites in the north and west of Scotland for potential future scale up. The project will determine the economic and technical feasibility of using renewable energy and transactive load management to reduce the costs of algal biomanufacturing and enable grid balancing, and will investigate the wider economic and social impact that implementation of this technology could have in rural Scotland and beyond.

This is the first study of its kind in the world, giving Scotland a valuable technical lead in this field. The project will deliver 40,000l of internally-lit photobioreactor capacity, making it the largest facility of its type in the UK and provide a valuable facility for investigating the potential of novel algal products at industrial scales.

More information here.

The Alliance of Open Access Biorefining Centres

The Alliance of Open Access Biorefining Centres

BioPilotsUK is a collaboration created by five established biorefining open-access centres who recognise the importance of partnerships to develop UK bio-based value chains. Together, we de-risk the commercialisation of bio-based products and processes by trialling new technologies to ensure our partners are investing in the right technologies for their business.

Our vision

The UK as a global leader in biorefining technology development and bio-based product manufacture within a sustainable high-value bioeconomy.

Our mission
  • Provide a stable, integrated, cost-effective pilot and process development service linked to the higher education (HE) sector for the benefit of bio-based industries and the bioeconomy
  • Work collectively and internationally to increase knowledge and capabilities in biorefining and industrial biotechnology (IB)
  • Nurture the development of SMEs and larger companies to support the growth of bio-based value chains
Who’s involved?
BEACON logoBDC logoCPI logo
IBioIC LogoBiorefining Centre logo
More information here.

David Newman, BBIA report on EFIB

David Newman, BBIA Managing Director, attended EFIB 2016 in Glasgow and sends this report as the event comes to a close on 20 October.

The EFIB event was a well-organised and interesting overview of the bioeconomy landscape – in the UK, Europe and with contributions from the USA. Three days of workshops and seminars illustrated some of the new technological developments the sector is seeing rapidly adopted, with announcements regarding new investments, products and plant.

The strength of innovation in Scotland itself became evident with the government determined to back bioeconomy industries wanting to build infrastructure there. Scotland is poised to take the leading role within the UK in this sector, along with the Teesside region’s historic chemical industry hub.

Need for bioeconomy strategy in the UK

Whilst Scotland has a clear bioeconomy strategy and is implementing it, the UK as a whole lacks one still, and this delay has led to promising start-ups and researchers with intellectual property building their plants elsewhere.

Croda’s new $150m facility is being built in the USA and Akzonobel’s €180m facility in Rotterdam, because support, markets, political certainty and feedstocks in these locations offer a stronger case for investment.

But all is not lost. Mark Turner from BEIS this week outlined the development of thinking on the bioeconomy strategy and informed us that the government would probably announce in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement (in November) the publication of Green and White papers, with policy consultation, on the bioeconomy. He strongly recommends we all request to take part and we can do this now by writing to BEIS asking to be included in the consultation. Please do so.

Circular Economy Package progress

Elsewhere, presentations from European Commission officials underlined how the debate is moving forward on the Circular Economy Package. The discussion is very dynamic, moving from the Commission to the Parliament and the European Council.

We can expect a final version of the Waste Framework Directive not before the end of 2017. Policy discussions are intense over questions that affect our sector, notably the segregated collection of biowaste, and the definition of which materials can be considered as compatible with biowaste collections (such as bioplastics).

European, and national, funding still plentiful

One message has come across strongly: there is a lot of government and EU funding available for bioeconomy projects, whether within Horizon 2020, the BBI JU or national funds through vouchers given by NNFCC, LBNet or others.

The European Commission officials also confirmed that for the next funding round in 2017, the UK has the same opportunity to obtain funding as it always has had. Until the Brexit negotiations are completed, nothing will change on this.

Perhaps this is the moment when the British government will see the opportunities in bioeconomy investments and stimulate these through the sort of policies adopted elsewhere. Strong support among the audience was given to policies on green public procurement, to forceful interventions on biowaste collections policy, to re-writing end-of-waste regulations to allow new technologies to enter the market, and to cross-sectorial thinking and planning.

BBIA will continue to give its support to policymakers to make the case for bioeconomy investments in the UK, and I hope we can count upon your support and contribution in doing so.

David Newman
Managing Director, BBIA

CBMNet member in India seeking UK partner for collaboration

CBMNet member in India seeking UK partner for collaboration

CBMNet member Naseem Gaur, Group Leader at the Yeast Biofuel Group at The International Centre For Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, India is seeking a UK partner to collaborate with and apply for a BBSRC India Partnering Award with –

His laboratory is currently working on  yeast metabolic engineering for developing C5/C6 fermenting strains and bioprospecting fungi for cellulase production. The focus of research in his group is elucidating the role of ABC transporters and membrane lipids in the development of multidrug resistance in human fungal pathogen Candida glabrata and Candida  albicans. More information can be seen at

For more information please contact

The expression of glycerol facilitators from various yeast species improves growth on glycerol of Saccharomyces cerevisiae

The expression of glycerol facilitators from various yeast species improves growth on glycerol of Saccharomyces cerevisiae

Glycerol is an abundant by-product during biodiesel production and additionally has several assets compared to sugars when used as a carbon source for growing microorganisms in the context of biotechnological applications. However, most strains of the platform production organism Saccharomyces cerevisiae grow poorly in synthetic glycerol medium. It has been hypothesized that the uptake of glycerol could be a major bottleneck for the utilization of glycerol in S. cerevisiae. This species exclusively relies on an active transport system for glycerol uptake. This work demonstrates that the expression of predicted glycerol facilitators (Fps1 homologues) from superior glycerol-utilizing yeast species such as Pachysolen tannophilus, Komagatella pastoris, Yarrowia lipolytica and Cyberlindnera jadinii significantly improves the growth performance on glycerol of the previously selected glycerol-consuming S. cerevisiae wild-type strain (CBS 6412-13 A). The maximum specific growth rate increased from 0.13 up to 0.18 h−1and a biomass yield coefficient of 0.56 gDW/gglycerol was observed. These results pave the way for exploiting the assets of glycerol in the production of fuels, chemicals and pharmaceuticals based on baker’s yeast.

Read the full article here.

£10M Bioeconomy Growth Fund for York, North Yorkshire and East Riding

A £10M Bioeconomy Growth Fund for York, North Yorkshire and East Riding

The Bioeconomy Growth Fund is being made available to the sector which provides a low carbon, renewable alternative to our fossil fuel based economy. The sector covers everything from forestry, agriculture, horticulture, food, drinks, and water utilities to name just a few. It will provide industry with the financial support needed to build innovative commercial infrastructure for the growth of bioeconomy supply chains. To be eligible for the funding, the proposals must be for capital projects with a minimum value of £1,000,000. Match funding will need to be provided by the applicants.

For more information please see

3 CBMNet Business Interaction Vouchers Awarded – only 1 left!

3 CBMNet Business Interaction Vouchers Awarded – only 1 left!

We are pleased to announce that we have awarded 3 new Business Interaction Vouchers.

Development of Clostridium saccharoperbutylacetonicum transposon mutagenesis – University of Sheffield and Green Biologics Ltd

Clostridium saccharoperbutylacetonicum has been commercially used in Japan for the production of n-butanol, an important industrial solvent. For many years our understanding of this important species has lagged behind its industrial use due to a dearth of tools for the genetic manipulation of the organism. Recently however great efforts have been made to develop genetic tools for all Clostridia species and we now have a range of stable plasmid systems and the ability to make targeted chromosomal mutations.

We have developed an efficient random transposon mutagenesis system for use in Clostridia species that we are adapting for use in C. saccharoperbutylacetonicum. This will allow high-throughput analysis of gene essentiality and function for the first time and will lead to dramatic advances in our understanding of the genetic basis of n-butanol production.

The goal of this project is to optimise transposon mutagenesis in C. saccharoperbutylacetonicum and to scale up mutagenesis to generate the first large transposon mutant library in this species. In the longer term, this work will provide the fundamental knowledge necessary for the optimisation of n-butanol production; including nutrient uptake, exoenzyme secretion, feed stock selection and pathway optimisation.

SMALP technology: unlocking membrane proteins for drug discovery – University of Birmingham and Medimmune Ltd

Over the past 60 years our world has been revolutionised by the continued development of new medicines to treat a wide range of debilitating and life threatening diseases. The process of developing these new drugs often starts with gaining a detailed understanding of the disease itself. This leads to the identification of various target proteins within the body that play an important part in the progression of disease. For example in cancer a protein may be identified that is responsible for the uncontrolled growth of the tumour. Pharmaceutical companies would then examine a wide range of potential drugs to see if any of them can turn this protein off thereby preventing the growth of the tumour.

In 2009 we developed a new, cheap and reliable method, based on nanotechnology,  that allows us to isolate membrane proteins. These proteins are of significant interest to the UK pharmaceutical industry as they underpin the development of new and novel drugs. In this project we aim to work with one of the UK’s foremost pharmaceutical companies, Medimmune, to use our technology to make two of their drug targets. In doing so we aim to enhance the effectiveness of their drug discovery pipeline. In this longer term we hope that the method will also allow the membrane proteins themselves to be used for therapy. For example, replacing malfunctioning membrane proteins that cause diseases. We also hope that this project will act as a “showcase” to the wider Industrial Biotechnology community highlighting how our technology can make new proteins available for a range of industrial processes.

Molecular structures and interactions of bacterial outer membranes: Rational antimicrobrial agent design in personal care product formulation – University of Bristol and Procter and Gamble

In recent years, it has become more important to develop new strategies towards combating bacteria, a problem that has been exacerbated due to the expense and decline of research and development of new AMAs, not only in personal care product formulation, but in general healthcare and biomedical applications. In response, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) have made drug-resistant bacteria a priority research area. Particularly problematic is Gram-negative bacteria, which is known to be resistant to a variety of antibiotics. Disruptions of the bacteria membranes are a direct and effective bactericidal route, and thus one of the important prerequisites for the development of the next generation AMAs is to understand how the pathogen coats will interact with the AMAs. This approach is underpinned by our ability to construct model systems that mimic the structural and compositional sophistication of Gram-negative bacteria outer membranes.   Here in this project in collaboration with P&G, the world’s largest personal care products manufacturer, our working concept is that new antimicrobials could be developed for addition to consumer products that act by disruption of bacterial outer membrane structure.  A barrier to progression is the absence of realistic outer membrane models for understanding the mode of action of lead compounds.  Our results, although not directly IB (i.e. not making anything), will provide an enabling technology for developing a vast array new products.

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