Mitsubishi Corporation invests in and enters into partnership with Unibio

By Jane Byrne contact

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/metamorworks
© GettyImages/metamorworks

Related tags: Single cell protein, Russia

Single cell protein (SCP) producer, Unibio International plc, said it has raised additional capital from Mitsubishi Corporation, Japan’s largest trading company.

The investment will allow Unibio and Mitsubishi to develop a strong partnership and will further the global roll-out of the Danish company’s production technology, it added.

Unibio has core competences in microbial fermentation technologies. In collaboration with the Technical University of Denmark and others, it has developed a range of technologies under the U-Loop brand, which allow large-scale conversion of methane using methanotrophic microbes into a protein product, Uniprotein, for feed.

Mitsubishi is Japan's largest trading company, employing over 60,000 people; it has seven business segments, including finance, banking, energy, machinery, chemicals, and food. One of its companies, Cermaq, is the world’s third largest salmon producer. 

When asked what this investment means for the Danish biotech company, its CEO, Henrik Busch-Larsen, told us: “It leaves Unibio in a very strong position with regard to our strategic intent of getting millions of tons of Uniprotein on the market within the next decade.”

Taro Satori, methanol team leader, Mitsubishi, explaining why the Japanese group invested in and entered into a partnership with Unibio, said the Danish company owns a unique SCP production technology, one of the most efficient in the world, and the one closest to commercialization. 

Also appealing for Mitsubishi, he said, is Unibio’s experienced staff and management and their close collaboration with DTU and business partners.

“We think that the SCP business can have a high societal and environmental value as SCP can be produced mainly from abundant natural gas (methane) and can contribute to mitigating a lack of food and to maintaining marine ecosystems due to the low environmental burden of the production process. 

"Mitsubishi Corporation can offer some existing and potential functions that will add value to and develop the SCP business covering the methane-to-food value chain, and we therefore believe that this new challenge will fit our business scope," ​added Satori. 

Technology roll-out

The first full-scale production plant, constructed and operated by Unibio’s partner Protelux, is being commissioned in Russia.

In terms of rolling out the technology in other geographies, Busch-Larsen said that is already underway.

“Funds from our Series D will be put to use in the US project announced earlier this year, and the company is negotiating several new potential license agreements in different regions of the world.” 

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