27 Januar 2015

Austria: 65 Mio Euro for Biotechnology

International research center acib to transfer innovations from nature into industry

The Austrian Centre of Industrial Biotechnology (acib) starts with a 65 million euro budget in the 2nd funding period that ends in 2019. New in the acib partnership – among 120+ industrial and scientific partners – is the Styrian traditional company Gerot Lannach with a project against drug abuse.

When acib was launched on 1 January 2010, the vision was defined to transfer innovations from nature into industry. The international research center acib replaces conventional industrial processes with new ones that are more environmentally friendly and economical. “We want to develop new products and technologies that finally make our lives easier”, says Mathias Drexler, CEO of the acib. After an successful evaluation, the Austrian based research center for industrial biotechnology started on January 1st, 2015, in its second funding period, which will surpass the achievements of the first.

The center with 200+ employees and 120+ international project partners can count on the knowledge of 40+ key researchers of international partner universities and scientific institutions. The budget was 60 million euros in the first funding period from 2010 to 2014, in the second it will be 65 million Euros. “Additionally we actually participate in EU projects with a budget of more than 10 million euros – and more are in the pipeline”, says Drexler. In 2010 acib started with locations in Vienna, Graz and Innsbruck. Meanwhile, the center has grown into an international partnership with scientific offices in Germany, Italy and Spain.

acib’s focus will remain to transmit the methods and concepts of nature in the industry. For example a project in environmental biotechnology wants to release phosphorus and chromium from slag with the help of microorganisms. In another project acib will gain new knowledge about plastic degradation in the environment and in particular in water; this could help solve problems with hardly degradable plastic islands in our oceans. Besides, based on this knowledge new plastics can be developed that are degradable in such aquatic systems. Further research priorities are: improving of the biotech cell factories Escherichia coli (a bacterium), Pichia pastoris (yeast), Trichoderma reesei (a fungus) and CHO-cells (Chinese hamster ovary for the production of highly valued therapeutics), making perfect silage using an altered Bifidobacterium (can converts the sugar in hay in a balanced, ideally utilizable mixture of organic acids), mixtures of bacteria (microbiome) for biological growth control of plants and much more.

With Gerot Lannach against drug abuse

Particularly pleasing for acib is the new collaboration with Gerot Lannach, an internationally active developer and manufacturer of pharmaceuticals with its corporate headquarter in Lannach (Styria). Gerot Lannach can refer to a 60+ years history with extensive experience in the production and distribution of proprietary pharmaceuticals. The company’s products can be found in more than 30 countries.

The new cooperation is about a project that aims to make certain medications in pharmaceutical application more secure. In this specific case it comes to the substance group of opioids, which are a key component of modern pain therapy. Unfortunately there is some misuse with these highly effective products. The project of acib and Gerot Lannach deals with an innovative approach to develop dosage forms which are protected against abuse. “For example, we want to design drugs where the active agent is effective only where it is therapeutically required. Otherwise it remains inactive”, says Christof Wachter, head of the medical department at Gerot Lannach, “we hope to expand our already strong international market position further in the future with the help of this new technology.”

Source: ACIB, press release, 2015-01-22.

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