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Biobased Chemicals

French multinationals form biotech hub

New R&D center in France will be for scaling precision fermentation processes

by Alex Scott
June 20, 2024 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 102, Issue 19


Image of buildings in Parc Cataroux Center for Sustainable Materials.
Credit: Michelin
The hub will be located in Parc Cataroux Center for Sustainable Materials, shown here.

The French food giant Danone and tire producer Michelin, along with the US biotech firm DMC Biotechnologies and the bank Crédit Agricole Centre France, have agreed to form a biotech R&D hub in France. It will be located in the Parc Cataroux Center for Sustainable Materials, an innovation park partly funded by Michelin that is due to open in central France late this year.

The partners say the hub, called the Biotech Open Platform, will enable them to scale up production of biobased materials and food ingredients that they have already tested in their labs. The four partners are investing equal amounts of money in the hub. Total investment is more than $17 million, with some funding also coming from the University of Clermont Auvergne, the French biotech company Greentech, the regional government of Auvergne, and the European Commission.

The partners plan to install a 12 m3 demonstration-scale production line along with purification equipment by 2025. In a second phase, they plan to add another production line and gradually open the center to other companies seeking to scale up fermentation-based processes.

The hub will use DMC’s two-stage fermentation process, in which it has decoupled the growth of its microbes from the production of a target product. DMC has already used its technology to make L-alanine and other products for the nutrition, personal care, and home care sectors.

Michelin is an investor in DMC. Danone says the partners selected DMC because the US company’s technology enables the rapid, predictable, and robust biomanufacturing of a variety of chemical products.

Danone plans to use the R&D hub to “accelerate innovation, health benefits and decarbonization in the food industry,” CEO Antoine de Saint-Affrique says in a press release. Michelin has set a goal of making 40% of the material in its tires renewable or biobased by 2030 and 100% by 2050.

French industrial biotech firms have struggled in recent years. The biomaterial developer Metabolic Explorer has been experiencing financial difficulties, while Deinove shut down in 2022.



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