DSM has opened a new state-of-the-art biotechnology facility at its site in Delft, the Netherlands that will expand its research and development capabilities in fermentation and biotechnology for food applications. “The site is really focused on biotech and fermentation,” says Ilona Haaijer, President of DSM Food Specialties. The new Biotechnology Center is a further step in the development of the site, where DSM Food Specialties has its global headquarters. The completion of this new Biotechnology Center is part of a €100 million investment program by DSM to scale up R&D in the Netherlands since 2013.
The new center brings together over 400 highly-skilled scientists from around the world who conduct breakthrough research in advanced fermentation technology, processing, genetics, analytics and food technology. Haaijer tells FoodIngredientsFirst: “Technology plays a key role in finding solutions. We need to find a way to feed all the people and need to find a way to do it in a healthy way. We believe passionately in our purpose of enabling better food for everyone. We can apply our science-based competences and creativity to really unlock value for customers to create new innovations.”
One example of a breakthrough innovation is DSM’s development of fermented steviol glycosides – the reduced-calorie, sweet-tasting molecules in the stevia plant – as an answer to the growing global demand for sugar reduced food and beverages. DSM’s fermentation know-how helps meet this global growing demand for steviol glycosides of a high purity and reliable quality that are sustainably produced. “Another breakthrough innovation is PreventASe, an enzyme that reduces acrylamide levels in baked goods,” says Haaijer.
DSM has also invested together with other industry players in a state-of-the-art biotech fermentation pilot plant on the Delft site. The new center makes use of the latest advances in laboratory robotics and automation to expand R&D and food application development. Its location at the heart of the Biotech Campus Delft allows DSM to rapidly scale up promising food applications for customer validation and commercial roll-out.
In addition, with the current infrastructure, DSM can facilitate start-up or small companies with their production, making sure that innovative ideas reach the market. “DSM is part of a food hub, our collaboration is with TU Delft, the city of Delft, and many academic institutions. We have science, scale up facilities and more lab facilities here, so we can host start-up and small companies, offering access to science and lab facilities,” says Haaijer.
Feike Sijbesma, CEO/Chairman of the DSM Managing Board, commented: “DSM’s new Biotechnology Center is where our scientists create solutions for societal challenges such as the need to provide all people globally with nutritious food, as well as enabling the transformation from a fossil-based to a bio-renewable-based society. DSM Biotechnology Center facilitates these needs, in an innovative environment and at an historic location in Delft where we build nearly 150 years of scientific, academic and commercial activities.”
The building itself has sustainable features with 3000m2 of glass panes and a glass roof of 22×9 meters allow ample daylight into the building, making it very transparent and light. A “Dutch climate façade” removes hot air from behind the glass panels, and is used to heat cold air coming in from outside the building, thus reducing energy consumption. Haaijer adds; “What is interesting about this building, is the way it has been set up. It is a sustainably designed building, and each floor has its own competence. The flow of work is easy, and people from all research areas can find each other easily.”
This was also very clear during the tour through the building. Each floor is especially designed for its purpose and also focused on automation, relieving the labor intense load on the employees. One floor is designed for FIND, where initial screening of their huge bacterial strain library takes place, whereas another floor is especially designed for MAKE, where the bioprocess development takes place. “Our core technologies help us predict the effect of enzymes and microorganisms so we can select the perfect fermentation organisms and help us quantify bioprocess options and scale production sizes before transferring to factories,” says Gerhard Wagner, Director of the DSM Biotechnology Center.” On the ground floor, the APPLY of the ingredient or enzyme is investigated, characterizing the ingredients up to even the atom level using state-of-the-art Nuclear Magnetic Resonance technology.
DSM’s Biotechnology Center will be named the Rosalind Franklin Biotechnology Center in honor of pioneering scientist Rosalind Franklin (1920-1958), whose extraordinary work during a tragically short life and career significantly contributed to our understanding of the structure of DNA, effectively creating the basis for modern biotechnology. By honoring Rosalind Franklin, DSM pays tribute to all female heroes of science.
Published 04 April 2017: The World of Food Ingredients
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