The French Government has identified Toulouse for a concerted development of White Biotechnology
Toulouse White Biotechnology (TWB) is a « centre of excellence » in the field of « white » (also called « industrial ») biotechnology. White biotechnology is the application of biotechnology for industrial purposes, including manufacturing of chemicals, alternative energy (or “bioenergy”) and biomaterials. It includes the practice of using cells or components of cells –like enzymes- to generate industrially useful products. TWB is expected to become an enabling-technology contributor to the knowledge-based bio-economy, as a vector to develop new bioprocesses at pre-industrial scale, generate industrial asset value in existing companies or new start-up industrial projects, and subsequently develop employment. TWB will focus on the bioprocessing and bioproduction of chemicals, biomaterials and energy, based on renewable carbon sources.
TWB will cover a range of R&D activities from biological engineering to preindustrial pilot scale testing. Biological studies often involve analytical and descriptive approaches, which define the fundamental functional units of living systems, while engineering is building new devices, methods and technologies from component parts. Biological engineering combines these two approaches, to generate new bioproducts and bioprocesses.
The TWB project is built within the environment of the Laboratoire d’Ingénierie des Systèmes Biologiques et des Procédés (LISBP) http://www.lisbp.insa-toulouse.fr/fr/index.html, a world class research laboratory that is sponsored by the educational and research organizations INSA, INRA and CNRS. This laboratory, which hosts a staff of 250 people, is a knowledge provider in the fields of metabolic and enzymatic engineering, microbial engineering, fermentation and bioprocess engineering and has longstanding experience in the areas of partnering and technology transfer.
Research & Development :
To further the implementation of “biorefinery concepts”, TWB will focus on improving the performance of biocatalysts (enzymes, microorganisms), either by exploiting natural biodiversity or through the optimization of existing enzymes and metabolic pathways, or by synthesizing new ones.
At the forefront of its research, TWB will develop technologies for the design of functional biological units (enzymes, control elements, etc …) and metabolic pathways. Moreover, TWB will construc metabolically-optimized microorganisms that will integrate tailored biotechnological processes.
Questions related to the development of biotechnology, such as high investment and production costs, cyclical raw material prices and limited availability, complex innovation processes and critical social acceptance and regulatory issues will also form an integral part of TWB’s R&D focus.
The services :
Collaborative research and development projects will be jointly specified, designed and implemented with the industry.
They can involve :
- Enzymatic engineering projects, that will generate enzymes with optimized catalytic functions. These enzymes will be used to create or improve biocatalytic processes.
- Metabolic engineering projects and subsequent microbial engineering, with the aim to generate organic molecules (i.e. building blocks, platform intermediates, biopolymers, etc.).
- Microbial consortia engineering projects, for recycling by-products. They will produce molecules of commercial interest, and products and progress in higher sustainability.
TWB will also provide training services to companies/labs.
The technical platforms :
1. The high-throughput technical platform will provide for the production/selection of libraries of microorganisms or enzyme variants via average to high throughput analytical operations related to integrative biology and the purification of specific compounds.
2. The analytics platform will provide advanced analytical solutions and support for three complementary areas: metabolic analyses, protein interaction analyses and single cell analyses.
3. The biotransformation and culture process platform will evaluate and provide solutions for the biotransformation of raw material into valuable compounds following three types of processes: enzymatic processes, fermentative processes or processes based on the use of microbial consortia.
4. The unitary operation, down- and upstream processing platform evaluates unitary operations and investigates their association in biotransformation processes. Upstream processing (raw material pre-treatment) and downstream purification steps are also evaluated for feasibility and up scaling possibilities.
5. The information technology platform is a central platform allowing management, treatment and storage of information (integrating a LIMS).
6. The environmental evaluation platform is a resource and modeling platform for analysis of carbon footprint, energy fluxes and life cycles related to developed processes.
7. The human and social sciences platform, hosted by the Institut Catholique de Toulouse, provides resources and expertise for evaluation of science and technology impact on contemporary populations.
8. Proximity platforms, such as Metabopole, host equipment dedicated to TWB projects that require specific staff or appropriate premises.
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