Climate change and scarcity of raw materials urgently require solutions. Examples are the production of sustainable fuels, food and materials, such as bioplastics.
At Planet B.io on the Biotech Campus Delft, companies are welcome to develop solutions for this. The ecosystem for open innovation in industrial biotechnology hopes to welcome many new parties soon. This is possible because, in addition to DSM, four other collaboration partners have also put their weight behind it.
After signing the letter of intent, the five parties involved worked hard until the end of last year to flesh out the collaboration. This mainly concerns the financial and legal conditions that give the cooperation the greatest chance of success. A foundation has been chosen, which will operate under the name Planet B.io. “If all goes well, the foundation will be officially established at the notary at the time this article is printed”, says Cindy Gerhardt, director of Planet B.io. “It has also been worked out which financial and non-financial contributions the cooperation partners make to Planet B.io”, she says. “All parties contribute various important elements. We are very happy with that, because without their contribution we could never have been so ambitious.”
At Planet B.io, three full-time employees are fully focused on setting up and expanding the ecosystem to form a true open innovation campus. Gerhardt: “That comes down, among other things, to looking for companies that match our objectives. We strive for a nice mix of large, medium and small companies, established names and start-ups.”
The newcomers who have now arrived seem to offer that mix. “The first floor was soon let to Veramaris, Avansya, Meatable and DAB”, Gerhardt says. “The first two are joint ventures with large parent companies, the last two are innovative startups. Due to the success on the first floor, we accelerated the renovation of the second floor. The first new offices and labs were completed on April 1st.” Gerhardt is proud that almost half of the new workplaces are already in option with interested companies.
Gerhardt can already name some names, others not yet. “The R&D managers of Centrient Pharmaceuticals, formerly part of DSM and still a producer of antibiotics on campus, are moving into a new office with us. In addition to this established company, a recently established joint venture of the French Avril and DSM is coming to Planet B.io. It's about CanolaPRO. This company produces protein from the residual fraction that remains after the oil has been extracted from rapeseed. These proteins can be used in sustainable meat substitutes, for example. (see also article on page 3). In addition to these companies, we also count on two brand new startups, both of which are active in the field of sustainable food. And last but not least, we are talking to a very interesting company that could introduce an important production technology on campus that could benefit multiple companies”, says Gerhardt. Companies are carefully selected. Gerhardt explains that: “You don't just come here to rent a lab or office, you become part of our 'community'. Everyone can grow faster by learning, networking and sharing knowledge together. Upscaling is often a bottleneck within biotechnology. The knowledge and infrastructure that we make available as an ecosystem helps our companies to come up with solutions for (technological and financial) bottlenecks.”
The Biotech Campus Delft is a newcomer in the Randstad between established names such as the TU Delft Campus, the Leiden Bio Science Park and the Utrecht Science Park. “We are expressly open to consultation and coordination with those (bio) science parks linked to universities. That consultation is already taking place. Where university campuses play a crucial role in starting up new, innovative companies, we specialize in their upscaling and growth. We all have our specific strengths. If we complement each other, we can jointly contribute to the transition to a better world.”
“In the case of climate change and pollution, we don't have planet B that we can use as plan B! Fortunately, we do have modern biotechnology. This can contribute to solutions for urgent problems caused by overproduction and overconsumption”, says Gerhardt. “The “io” is not only part of Bio, but also gives a nod to the fact that the bio-economy is still in the making.”