New research center for "white biotechnology"
Degussa AG, Dusseldorf, is establishing a Science to Business Center Bio as a new center for "white biotechnology". The center will start operating on January 1, 2006. Working in state-of-the-art laboratories and pilot plants at the planned new construction, around 60 Degussa scientists will collaborate with co-operation partners from universities and industry in order to develop new biotechnology products and processes based on natural raw materials.
Degussa Management Board Chairman Prof. Utz-Hellmuth Felcht comments: “We will be investing 50 million euros in the new Science to Business Center Bio over the next five years. We regard this also as an acknowledgement of Germany's position as a center of research.” The investment will systematically expand the research infrastructure for "white biotechnology" in North Rhine Westphalia (NRW), which has always been strong, moving it in the direction of industrial implementation. NRW will support the center’s activities.
As recently as April this year Degussa inaugurated its Science to Business Center Nanotronics, where the specialty chemicals company develops innovative, nanomaterials-based system solutions for the electronics industry. Dr. Alfred Oberholz, the Degussa Management Board Member responsible for research and development, comments: “We are now transferring our successful science to business concept to the development of biotechnology products. Here as well, our guiding principle is to closely combine innovation with a strong customer focus.”
Degussa's science to business concept aims to significantly accelerate the path from science to success in the marketplace. It is based on integrating all the research and development operations along the value chain under one roof – from basic research to product development and through to pilot production. As a result, basic research at university level and industrial implementation expertise are being coupled with the energy and high-tech of start-up companies.
Over the past few years, Degussa has built up key competencies in the area of bio-processes – including through the use of the Biotechnology and ProFerm project houses. With these skills serving as the platform, it will now develop highly-efficient processes in the Science to Business Center Bio which will rely on renewable resources instead of fossils. Bioactive products form the second key focus of innovation. Examples of these are new forms of drug delivery systems aimed at transporting the active ingredients of medicines and cosmetics effectively. Degussa already uses new bioprocesses now in order to manufacture pharmaceutical amino acids for infusion solutions, amino acids for animal nutrition, special building blocks for medications and active ingredients for creams and lotions. The aim of the new center is to continue to expand Degussa's strong position in "white biotechnology", creating new jobs in the processing industry at the same time.
“White biotechnology” – also known as industrial biotechnology – is the term used to describe sustained, industrial manufacturing processes that are primarily based on natural, biological resources. It covers fermentative and enzymatic processes that offer both economically and ecologically promising alternatives to chemical-physical processes. New findings, particularly in genome research and in system biology, are currently lending enormous impetus to “white biotechnology”, which demands intensive interdisciplinary collaboration between chemists, molecular biologists, geneticists, microbiologists, information technology experts and process engineers.