The A$5m site includes fermentation labs, a genetics lab and large preparation rooms, all equipped with the latest technology including robots, high performance liquid chromatography and minus 80 degrees Celsius freezers.
A producer of specialized and bespoke strains of the common yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the Australian biotech says its new R&D laboratories will produce microorganisms targeting a wide range of industries from biofuels to alternative proteins to space exploration, food, and animal feed. It has a library of strains at hand to provide genetic diversity for existing and novel applications.
MicroBioGen also intends to double its skilled scientific workforce to around 40 scientists:
“The new laboratories will allow us to expand our research capabilities, putting MicroBioGen and Australia at the forefront of global biotech and sustainable innovation.
“By building a state-of-the-art facility we will attract and retain the brightest scientific minds to NSW, scientists who can help MicroBioGen advance its micro-organisms, especially in the areas of sustainability, biofuels, animal feed and alternative protein development,” said MicroBioGen CEO Geoff Bell.
The company, which was spun out of Macquarie University in 2001, said the new facility will help it continue to address global concerns around energy and food production.
Single cell protein
In terms of feed applications, it is also developing yeast strains that allow the production of single cell protein (SCP) from low value substrates and waste streams.
Speaking to this publication in 2021, Bell said the product has a protein content in the region of 50%, but according to the CEO, what is important isn’t what’s in there, but what isn’t in there.
“Soybean meal, for example, is full of anti-nutritionals that you have to deal with; our yeast neutralizes these,” he said.
Biofuel from non-food sources
Last year also saw the company successfully complete an A$8m project, in partnership with Novozymes and partially funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), to breed a strain of yeast that produced a more efficient and economical form of biofuel from non-food sources with the aim of transforming the global ethanol industry.