The increasing pressure on finding new solutions for more sustainable production of food, materials, and chemicals, leads to many interesting discoveries on laboratory scale. However, to create a real impact on our environment in a commercially viable way, these opportunities need to step up from production at small scale to that of industrial scale. Given the complexity, the costs and the risks associated with scaling up, this step is often referred to as the valley of death, leading to lost market opportunities of innovative technologies.
10 years ago, DSM, Delft University of Technology and CSM-Purac (now Corbion) joined forces and founded the Bioprocess Pilot Facility BV: an open access, 5,000 m2 pilot production facility for industrial biotechnology located at the Biotech Campus Delft, The Netherlands. Both private and public partners can access this pilot plant for research and development related to upscaling of bioprocesses, without having to invest in own equipment or operators. Herewith they de-risk their business and shorten the time-to-market.
The Bioprocess Pilot Facility (BPF, www.bpf.eu) is specialized in scaling up pretreatment and hydrolysis of biomass on the one hand, and fermentation and downstream processing on the other hand. The BPF provides support to step up to production at commercial scale in a dedicated and certified food and non-food environment.
In the past years, the stakeholder environment at the BPF underwent changes. Corbion decided to retire as shareholder of BPF after being committed to BPF for 10 years. The ambition of the Biotech Campus Delft to become an open innovation hub for industrial biotechnology has materialized. The foundation Planet B.io (www.planet-b.io) was founded in 2020, with the purpose to create new labs and offices for Biotech startups and scale-ups at the Biotech Campus. Planet B.io not only creates workspaces, but also supports young companies in their growth by offering a variety of technical and business services and funding opportunities. Collaboration between BPF and Planet B.io has always been fruitful, as young companies on campus find expertise and facilities at the BPF for their necessary scale-up activities.
Based on the synergy between Planet B.io and BPF, it was a logical step for the BPF to invite Planet B.io to become a third shareholder in the company, next to the Delft University of Technology and DSM. None of the shareholders has a majority stake, leaving a balanced composition of the board.
Managing Director of Planet B.io Cindy Gerhardt says: “We have high ambitions when it comes to bringing innovative biotech solutions to commercial scale. By strengthening our collaboration with the BPF, we can join forces to improve the value proposition of the Biotech Campus Delft. I look forward creating an even more stimulating environment for companies to join our campus and find all the necessary infrastructure, knowledge, and talents they need to grow. “
Eric Goossens, Managing Director of BPF, adds: “I am very pleased to have Planet B.io as a shareholder and thank Corbion for its commitment over the past years where the support of our 3 shareholders has been instrumental. The entry of Planet B.io as shareholder marks the start of a next phase for BPF, ten years after its foundation. Since the foundation of BPF in 2012 major steps have been made in not only establishing the brand BPF across the world, but also the ability to execute the increasing number of innovations in the biobased circular economy, and thus facilitate numerous innovations across the valley of death. The next phase in BPF’s 10-year anniversary year 2022 will be marked by an increase in capacity to support even more innovations, not only in the wider industrial biotechnology field but certainly in the surging alternative protein field.”