Friday, 11 March 2022 12:00

Technology Innovation in Bioprocessing: The Industry Perspective

The bioprocessing industry is a well-established industry for the manufacturing of specialty chemicals and (bio)pharmaceuticals, food ingredients, detergent enzymes and more recently, chemical building blocks and fuel components. While conventionally based essentially on renewable biobased feedstocks, the industry has gone through several radical transformations. These are due to advances in modern biology, increasing electrification and alternative feedstocks such as agro-forestry and industrial (off gas) residues, and digital transformation. At the same time, bioprocessing enables an expanded product portfolio with a significantly lowered carbon footprint which includes advanced medical therapeutic products, circular materials, and fuels as well as ‘low carbon’ food and feed products such as synthetic proteins and cultured meat. This lecture will present the view from one of the leading global industrial players to these developments, how these are rooted in scientific and technological progress in open innovation, and some of the key challenges to development and implementation of robust industrial bioprocessing operations.

Dr Wouter van Winden is Principal Scientist in Upstream Bioprocess Development Technology at the Royal DSM Company (EUR 8 bn annual revenue, 23 000p, global presence), and oversees fermentation / bioprocessing development for the company for all its product domains (chemicals, pharma and fuels in the recent-past, and increasingly food and feed ingredients/nutrients). A key part of the Principal Scientist role is responsibility for the company’s science and technology portfolio and its future readiness. This includes technological innovation to support the company’s strategic commitment to UN SDGs in its business operations and product portfolio. The company’s 2020 Annual Report shows impressive improvements in reducing carbon footprint and fossil energy use, partially due to electrification of its bioprocessing manufacturing operations.

Wouter has a warm interest in education and supports the Faculty and Department of Chemical Sciences at the University of Limerick in the development of the core modules of Upstream and Downstream Processing for the MSc Bioprocessing programme, based on his Delft expertise. For the 2022 version of the USP Module, Wouter will lecture partially physically on campus and will discuss the radical technological developments underlying the massive transformation in the bioprocessing industry to manufacture zero emission and healthy food and feed ingredients, nutrients, and main products for a growing human population.

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