Photo credit: Joachim Rode

DTU spin-out produces biochemicals out of sugar

Wednesday 26 Feb 20


Alex Toftgaard Nielsen
DTU Biosustain
+45 21 79 89 06

DTU spin-out Cysbio has developed technology that can produce selected biochemicals through a simple fermentation process of sugar. This will limit use of fossil resources substantially and be very cost effective.

Newly established DTU spinout, Cysbio, has developed technologies that enable the cost-effective production of a range of biochemicals. The enabling technology consist of modified bacteria strains that can transform simple renewable feedstocks like glucose into valuable chemicals through a simple fermentation process. The products can be used in multiple industries and holds the potential to dramatically expand existing markets as well as create totally new offerings within health, nutrition, polymers, biopesticides and food.

They have gotten a great start by receiving a EUR 5.5 million seed investment and by having established a close collaboration with Chinese fine chemicals company Zhejiang NHU.

Producing amino acid without fossil resources

Cysbio is operating with two different technology platforms. Their focus is currently on commercializing the production of amino acids in collaboration with Zhejiang NHU.

Upon spinning out the company last year, they found themselves ready to scale up their production of amino acids and looked for a partner that could help with large scale production. They got in touch with Zhejiang NHU and ended with an investment deal of EUR 5.5 million. This includes a collaboration where Zhejiang NHU both produces and sells some of the products, while CysBio receives part of the profit.

"We can decrease our dependence on fossil resources and we can replace some polluting production methods"
Prof. Alex Toftgaard Nielsen, CSO and Co-founder of Cysbio

“A lot of the chemicals produced today stem from oil-based resources. We can make many of these chemicals through fermentation processes from renewable resources such as sugar. This means we can decrease our dependence on fossil resources and we can replace some polluting production methods”, says Prof. Alex Toftgaard Nielsen, CSO and co-founder of Cysbio.

Zhejiang NHU has recently built a large fermentation factory in China in a EUR 1 billion project. They produce a lot of different fine chemicals and plan to dramatically expand their production of biobased products in the future. This makes Cysbio a very attractive collaborator.

“We have the knowledge, capability and IP within a valuable field of biotechnology and they have resources and expertise to produce and sell”, says Prof. Alex Toftgaard Nielsen, “Things have gone very fast. They are extremely good at scaling up and they have invested in a sizable dedicated team working specifically on our products. It’s a fantastic situation to be in”.

They expect to launch their first amino acid product in the beginning of 2021.

Sulfated drugs can replace toxic paint

Cysbio’s other technology platform is looking into completely new chemicals that have huge market potential.

“Our other platform is developing sulfated compounds that comes from, for example, eelgrass. The compounds can prevent microorganisms from sticking to surfaces. This have a very wide application area. It may for example be possible to replace the very toxic paint used on boats and buildings with something biodegradable and renewable”, Prof. Alex Toftgaard Nielsen explains.

The market potential is massive. You can potentially replace very toxic chemicals that are currently fabricated chemically with biochemicals that are both sustainable and cost effective. Cysbio has a prospect of taking this to market in 2-3 years.

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