Sheffield spin-out aims to harness global biomanufacturing boom
1 Aug 2022
A University of Sheffield spin-out is aiming to develop faster growing and more resistant and sustainable microbes to meet a predicted global boom in biomanufacturing.
The Evolutor platform is seeking to enable the commercialisation and scaling up of microbial engineering technology used to produce animal free protein, antibodies, biofuel and biodegradable plastics for use in a variety of industrial sectors, including energy, food, pharma, agriculture and materials.
A key factor in the growth of biomanufacturing is its potential contribution to sustainable practice. Studies have suggested that compared with traditionally manufactured products, it can achieve reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and land use of more than 80%, as well as reductions in water use of over 60%.
Analysts ResearchAndMarkets.com predict the world biomanufacturing market will achieve a compound annual growth rate of close to 15% in the decade to 2031 and exceed a value of US$85 billion by the same date.
Developed by Sheffield’s Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering developed at the University of Sheffield, by Evolutor CEO Joe Price and Chemical, academics Professor Tuck Seng Wong and Dr Kang Lan Tee, and student Brooks J. Rady, Evolutor employs adaptive laboratory evolution (ALE), automated and accelerated by advanced biological tools.
The firm’s goal is to develop microbes that develop faster, generate more product, endure to harsh conditions and inhibitory compounds and efficiently grow on recycled and waste feedstocks.
Innovate UK’s Innovation to Commercialisation of University Research (ICURe) programme, has awarded Evolutor a £240k grant to build its business. Meanwhile its CEO Joe Price, a former technician in the university department has been awarded the Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Fellowship to support the company.
Said Price: “The aim over the next few years is to raise significant investment, move to a bigger lab space and build the team. Initially, we are aiming to work with commercial partners who are producing novel biodegradable materials and chemicals, including maritime and aviation fuel that aren’t fossil fuel based, but derived instead from a biological source.”
Evolutor also aims to develop the scalable manufacture of biodegradable plastics compatible with nature and also develop meat and dairy proteins identical to real animal products.
Added Price: “The science is incredible but we need to ensure that it is cost competitive with the products that currently exist and the ones we are aiming to replace.
“We believe that Evolutor can massively decrease the time-to–market of our customers’ bio-products and increase the commercial viability of large-scale precision fermentation plants. Ultimately, we want to work with biotechnology companies across the globe to change our industries and our world for the better.”