In 2001, Minister Jorritsma of Economic Affairs opened Centrient’s ZOR-f plant on the Biotech Campus Delft. In this plant, fermentation is used to produce 7-ADCA, a crystalline powder needed for the production of antibiotics. “Centrient is a global leader in sustainable, enzymatic antibiotics and other products,” says Chief Commercial Officer Frans Vlaar. “At our plant in Delft, microorganisms do the work using water, energy and glucose. We do not use chemical solvents and we keep our energy consumption low. We also purify all the waste water that comes out of our plant. We call this the ‘green route’. We are the only party in the world that makes 7-ADCA in this way.”
In Asia, waste materials often simply disappear into the environment. “Some rivers in India contain concentrations of antibiotics that are higher than when you take a course of antibiotics,” knows Frans. “This is a problem, as it contributes to antibiotic resistance worldwide.” With Centrient’s green route, this problem does not exist. The high-tech working method also keeps the plant competitive. “It is important that we can make medicines in an affordable way in Europe. The COVID-19 pandemic and the geopolitical tensions around the world have made this all the more evident. But this requires a level playing field, for example in terms of the criteria for clean production. Fortunately, Europe is now working on this too, with the Green Deal, among other things.” This is a set of policy initiatives with the overarching goal of making Europe climate neutral by 2050, and thus becoming the first climate neutral continent.
Janneke Metsaars is Production Manager in Delft. She is always working on further improving the production processes. “For example, we are looking at whether we can further improve how we feed our microorganisms and use new technology to make our production even more energy-efficient. That’s how we stay competitive and manage to keep high-quality jobs in the region.” The region is important to Centrient. “This is where our roots lie, right from the days when we were known as Gist-brocades. There is a lot of biotech knowledge available here, and we can rely on our committed employees.” This commitment works both ways. When COVID-19 caused a shortage of medical face masks in regional hospitals, Centrient stepped in to supply 30.000 FFP2 masks to the ‘Reinier de Graaf Gasthuis’ hospital and the ‘Haaglanden Medical Center’. “We were pleased to also be able to make this contribution toward good healthcare close by,” concludes Janneke.
Photo: Janneke Metsaars at the fermenters in the factory