Photo: Thorkild Amdi Christensen

New fermentation technology study programmes boost biotechnological production in Denmark

Wednesday 31 Jan 18


Rasmus Larsen
+45 45 25 10 10


Bjarke Bak Christensen
Head of Department
DTU Bioengineering
+45 30 66 42 33


Bo Skjold Larsen
Chief Executive Officer
DTU Biosustain
+45 45 25 80 08


Kim Dam-Johansen
Professor, Head of Department
DTU Chemical Engineering
+45 45 25 28 45
DTU is creating new study programmes in fermentation-based production with a grant of EUR 25 million (DKK 187 million) from the Novo Nordisk Foundation

The new study programmes are being created in DTU’s existing educational environment, and they focus on producing graduates specializing in bio-based production based on yeast cells, bacteria, and mammalian cells.

According to DTU Provost Rasmus Larsen, who is heading the new initiative, the study programmes will supply highly-qualified graduates with competences greatly lacking in industry today and contribute to promoting the green transition.

“Management of fermentative processes is a bottleneck in many businesses in energy, food, and pharmaceutical production. It’s therefore very pleasing that we’re now creating an environment which will produce highly-qualified graduates for industry, strengthen sustainable production, and improve Denmark's leading position in the field of biotechnological production,” says Rasmus Larsen.

The Novo Nordisk Foundation’s grant to DTU’s study programmes in fermentation-based production creates specialized study programmes which are the first of their kind internationally. The programmes are the result of cooperation between the three departments DTU Bioengineering, DTU Biosustain (the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability), and DTU Chemical Engineering, and they are developed in a close collaboration with industry.

As part of the grant, DTU is constructing two new laboratory facilities, which will offer students access to work with fermentation of genetically modified organisms and provide them with the opportunity to test a large number of cell strains in systems with high throughflow.

The grant enables DTU to offer study programmes at the highest international level in all parts of the bio-based processes from processing of cells, to development of new processes, and use of cells for production in large industrial plants.

Bio-based technologies—fermentation technology, among others—use cells from, for example, yeast or bacteria in production. A central scientific discipline in the new study programmes is the ability to design and reprogramme microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi, and exploit the new cells to produce food ingredients, pharmaceuticals, and chemicals, for example.

"Management of fermentative processes is a bottleneck in many businesses in energy, food, and pharmaceutical production."
Provost Rasmus Larsen

Fermentation-based production is already widely used in chemical and biopharmaceutical production—and with the new study programme initiative—fermentation-based production is expected to be able to contribute significantly to sustainable development. Bio-based technologies reduce the amount of energy necessary in production and offer a huge potential for biological treatment of, for example, pollution, better utilization of waste, and development of new materials.

The Novo Nordisk Foundation’s grant extends over a seven-year period, in which DTU will produce a total of approximately 30 top graduates at PhD level, 15-20 graduates at MSc level per annum, and offer further and supplementary education programmes. In connection with the establishment of the study programmes, four new academic positions will be created aimed at strengthening research activities under the study programmes, and ensuring that teaching is provided at an international level.

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