SPOTLIGHT ON INDUSTRY: STEVE TAYLOR, Founder and CSO at Celbius Ltd
Steve Taylor, Founder and Director at Celbius Ltd
What is your background and current job role?
I originally trained in biochemistry, studying at Imperial College in the mid-1980’s, where I stayed on to complete a PhD in microbial biotransformations. I joined a Cambridge-based biotech start up called Enzymatix in 1989, to start building a technology capability in biocatalysis. The company evolved into Chiroscience, encompassing both its own drug discovery and technology services for production of chiral intermediates in the pharmaceutical industry. The latter activity was separated as Chirotech, and by this time I was running a biocatalysis group comprising enzyme discovery, development and application. When Dow Chemical acquired Chirotech the group was also looking at the use of biocatalysis in drug discovery. Preferring a small company environment, I left Dow and began performing some independent consultancy work, for example, helping Almac Sciences to establish themselves in biocatalysis. Two years ago I formed Celbius to commercialise the application of ultrasound in bioprocessing, since biotransformations, fermentations and extraction processes can all benefit from this technology in terms of yields and reaction rates. Celbius is my main focus today, where I am developing the business both scientifically and commercially through the use of seed funding and grants.
What Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy related project is currently being undertaken by your organisation?
Celbius has an eclectic range of IBBE-related projects at various stages including biomass products for energy, novel agricultural applications of phytochemical extracts (including sonic-assisted extraction technology) and use of low power ultrasound in secondary metabolic processes and in other fermentation processes for enhanced protein production.
The common factor is the use of ultrasound- “sonobioprocessing”.
What do you think the challenges related to this project are in the next 1-5 years?
Most Celbius projects involve the use of low to medium power ultrasound, where acoustic energy is applied to liquids or slurries, for example fermentation cultures, bi-phasic biotransformations or solvent-extraction of comminuted plant materials. One of the main challenges is to achieve a much broader uptake of ultrasonic technology in the bioprocessing industries, and this will be achieved by deployment of much lower cost non-intrusive flow cells (no probes to corrode and contaminate products) than are currently available. The other challenge is to more comprehensively understand the effects that are observed. A benefit such as increased product yield may be a consequence of one or more factors such as high medium turbulence and shear forces, reduction of particle size, and in the case of living cells, improved membrane transport and modulation of gene expression caused by mechanical stresses. A “know-how to know-why” transition is desired.
How can other CBMNet members help you and your organisation with your research?
In the context of this NIBB, any member, academic or industrial, who is developing a bioprocess that involves transport of substrates or products across membranes might be interested in talking to us, since low power ultrasound can be of benefit to transport processes. This could also include the formation of artificial membranes such as liposomes and other particles. We are interested in collaboration via joint grant applications but also available to provide technical support and guidance to process development and equipment for all aspects of sonobioprocessing.
You can contact Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org