Fermenteringsplatform på DTU Bioengineering

Bio industry must accelerate green transition

Tuesday 10 Sep 19


Bjarke Bak Christensen
Head of Department
DTU Bioengineering
+45 30 66 42 33


North Carolina State University News Services
Mick Kulikowski, tel. +1 919 515 8387, mick_kulikowski@ncsu.edu

The Novo Nordisk Foundation
Anders Rosendahl, Senior Officer, tel. + 45 4048 3766, aro@novo.dk

The Novo Nordisk Foundation makes large grant to the development of new biopharmaceutical processes, as well as education and training of students and employees in the industry.

The Novo Nordisk Foundation grants DKK 182.7 million to an international partnership between DTU and North Carolina State University (NCSU) aimed at the establishment of new biopharmaceutical processes and study programmes for students and employees in the industry.

NCSU is the main recipient of the grant, and this is the first time that the Novo Nordisk Foundation makes a grant of this size outside the Nordic region. The reason is that—in addition to special competence in supplementary education and training programmes—NCSU has biopharmaceutical strengths which supplement those found at DTU.

“There’s demand for competences in biopharmaceutical production technologies, and NCSU supplements the more conventional biotechnological fermentation technologies and upstream processes in which we have strong competences at DTU. NCSU’s strengths are especially linked to the later stages in the production of biopharmaceutical products, on which DTU has had less focus so far. Therefore, we’re looking forward to the collaboration under which we will strengthen our researchers’ and students’ competences in biopharmaceutical production, including with mobility grants, joint course material, and research projects,” says Bjarke Bak Christensen, Head of Department, DTU Bioengineering.

Green transition

The Novo Nordisk Foundation’s ambition with the grant is to bridge the gap between academic research and biopharmaceutical industry and find areas in which new biotechnology solutions will benefit the industry.

“Once these biotechnological processes and methods have been developed and implemented on an industrial scale, they can be extended to other—currently less profitable—areas, for example in the green transition. One important focus area for us in this connection is the phasing out of fossil fuels in favour of biological solutions. The biopharmaceutical industry is the icebreaker that can pull a green transformation in its wake,” says Claus Felby, Head of Biotech at The Novo Nordisk Foundation.

The biopharmaceutical industry—which is responsible for the main part of the global production of pharmaceuticals—is in a vital phase. Increasing demand requires larger and more efficient production of existing products, combined with a need to create safe, cost-effective production processes for new pharmaceuticals. The further development of the industry requires both innovation and highly-qualified employees.

“This project will meet future requirements in the biopharmaceutical industry, and we expect that it will have a significant global impact in relation to improving production processes for pharmaceuticals. At the same time, it will result in the creation of a new generation of qualified scientists and engineers who will handle the design and performance of the processes used to produce them,” says Ruben Carbonell, Distinguished Professor and Principal Investigator for AIM Bio, North Carolina State University.

The grant is also to promote exchanges between NCSU and DTU, so that Danish and American lecturers, researchers, and students will cross the Atlantic between the two educational and research institutions—in terms of research projects, preparation of the study programme, and teaching.

The partnership will also further strengthen the growing collaboration between DTU Chemical Engineering—which is particularly strong on scale-up processes—and DTU Bioengineering, which has expertise in upstream processes, such as design of the cell factories which are to be used in the production.

The grant runs for five years, and it comprises nine research projects in biopharmaceutical production processes. In addition, the content of the new study programme will be designed and developed during the first 18 months, after which eight courses will be offered. 1,300 specialists—600 at NCSU and 700 at DTU—are expected to complete courses from the programme in the remaining part of the grant period.

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