MicroBioGen was formed in 2001 by four principals, with Dr Philip Bell and Dr Paul Attfield leading the scientific team. The main aim of the company was to develop a world-leading technology platform for improving and expanding applications of the world’s most utilised micro-organism – the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which is essential to industries worth over US$1 trillion per year.
Our first target was to deliver a new and game-changing yeast that could improve the production economics of biofuels from both food and non-food sources. All our scientists are passionate about the environment and solutions required for a sustainable future. As part of our development program, complementary applications were also targeted over time.
Industrial biotechnology is a complex area of science and we realised early on that the successful development of a new platform technology would take significant time and resources. Our company has been – and continues to be – very careful in managing its cash resources to ensure success over the longer term. Geoff Bell, who has been MicroBioGen’s CEO since 2006, has ensured that each dollar spent is maximised with over 85% of spending directly on R+D, with much of it matched through three matching Commonwealth Government grants totalling A$9M.
Over 500,000 work-days have been committed by our scientists in establishing and improving our technology platform and yeast strain development pipeline.
Our core competencies provide us with three significant competitive advantages.
- A platform technology that successfully enhances critical, existing industrial features of S. cerevisiae, or adds new features not previously considered possible. Uniquely, our core technology does not rely on genetic engineering techniques and therefore our base yeast strains are not subject to recombinant GM regulations. Some examples of features we have improved using our non-GM platform include higher acid resistance, higher temperature tolerance, an ability to grow on non-sugar substrates, and higher ethanol tolerance – amongst a huge range of other improvements. Note that, if required, we can also use GM approaches to further enhance industrial yeast strains.
- An ability to incorporate multiple features developed by MicroBioGen into the one organism and optimise that organism towards real-world industrial applications. The best practical example of this is the Novozymes Innova series of ethanol products that are ALL based on the MicroBioGen genetics platform.
- The final decisive competitive advantage is that MicroBioGen has now spent 20 years and over half a million work-days developing unique genetics in a library of yeast strains that our competitors do not have access to. This library offers us unique genetic diversity with which to generate new and improved yeast strains for existing and novel applications.
Now that MicroBioGen has demonstrated its development capabilities through the Innova series of products and other collaborative enterprises, it is actively looking to collaborate closely with suitable partner corporations that are looking to gain a competitive advantage.
As our logo suggests, we are committed to continually evolve and improve our yeast strains for a sustainable future. The yeast development opportunities we offer here at MicroBioGen are almost limitless. S. cerevisiae is going to become an even more important industrial micro-organism over the coming years with the help of MicroBioGen developed genetics.