About my Start-up
For the health of people and the planet, it’s essential that manufacturing processes that use unsustainable starting materials such as petrochemicals are quickly replaced with processes that use sustainable feedstocks. Biomanufacturing using the power of biology has enormous potential to enable this. As well as making existing products more sustainable, adopting biomanufacturing will allow the creation of new products that have better performance and sustainability. It’s estimated as much as 60% of the physical inputs to the global economy today could be produced or substituted using biological means.
Central to biomanufacturing are enzymes, which are natural catalysts capable of building, modifying, and degrading chemicals, potentially enabling the production of any desired molecule. Enzymes are usually more suitable than non-biological chemistries for sustainable and net zero processes. Most enzymes, as they exist in nature, require improvement in their performance before they can be used commercially. Companies engaged in biomanufacturing need to invest in R&D to discover and improve enzymes before they can be used commercially. This R&D is currently expensive and time consuming, and for many early-stage discovery projects, prohibitively expensive. Using our new patent-pending technology, we will enable a step-change in the way that enzymes are improved, significantly lowering the cost barrier to this R&D. This unlocks the ability to do enzyme improvement when previously it wasn’t feasible.
Our rapid delivery of custom-made enzymes will allow our partners to create products that are better for people and the environment, enabling the switch to a sustainable bioeconomy. Adopting enzymes in manufacturing processes can eliminate steps, increase yields, reduce waste, and reduce energy consumption and capital requirements.
Why your idea is a “winner"?:
We have a great team to exploit a game-changing technology that will operate in a growing market.
What is your current or intended business/revenue model?:
We will provide a service for customers and partners, with a revenue model that uses a combination of upfront payments, joint venture agreements, material supply agreements or royalty payments, depending on the particular project. As the company grows we will then partner with others to create our own product IP, that will generate royalties.
Do you have any Patent or IP registered (related to the solution that you are looking for an investment)?:
A patent application covering the technology has been filed (patent pending).
Has your technology already been implemented in any field/sector?:
We have developed and validated the technology, achieving proof of concept. We have demonstrated success for several industrially-relevant classes of enzyme, showing isolation of alcohol dehydrogenase, imine reductase and nitroreductase variants with desired NAD/NADP selectivity modifications, and a high-performing isopropanol metabolic pathway, from libraries of millions of variants. This work has been published in the journal Nature Communications [https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-27266-9].
Which market and customer need(s)/problem(s) is (are) your products(s)/service(s) going to solve?:
Target customers operate in industries such as pharmaceuticals, agrichemicals, diagnostics, food, flavourings, textiles and biofuels. The current state-of-the-art technology for enzyme discovery and improvement is laborious and limited in throughput, and prohibitively expensive, even for customers with large budgets. We will provide an enzyme discovery and improvement service that is significantly cheaper and better than available currently.
Gareth is a High Value Biorenewables (HVB) Enterprise Fellow at the University of Nottingham, with over 12 years’ biotechnology R&D experience. He graduated from the University of Sheffield in 2009 with a master’s degree in biochemistry and microbiology, before doing a PhD in molecular microbiology at the University of Nottingham.
Dr John Heap is Associate Professor in Engineering Biology / Synthetic Biology at the University of Nottingham, and Honorary Senior Lecturer at Imperial College London. The overarching aim of his research group (http://heaplab.org/) is to exploit natural and engineered biological systems for biomanufacturing, often using organisms with ‘exotic’ capabilities, and often in collaboration with industry. The main approaches are synthetic biology, metabolic engineering and enzyme evolution. His work on genetic tools and technologies has been widely used in industry as well as academia, with substantial impacts including numerous patents, licences, hundreds of material transfer agreements and thousands of citations. He actively commercialises his research.
Lara is a JSPS Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST). She has a PhD in synthetic biology & protein engineering from Imperial College London.