This Finnish Biotech is Paving the Way to Renewable Chemicals

While a big part of our news revolves around molecular biotechnology applications such as therapeutic antibodies or cellular therapies, once in a while it’s nice to write about a good old industrial biotech. For this reason, we toured to Finland this week to check out MetGen, a biotech company developing cost-effective industrial enzymes for renewable chemicals.

Mission: MetGen develops and markets enzyme solutions into growing biomass markets. These enzymes reduce the use of energy and chemicals in pulp and paper production and forward the path to low cost sugars for the production of biofuels and biochemicals from cellulosic feedstock. The biotech has also developed the ENZINE platform, which combines protein evolution with fermentation process development to express robust engineered enzymes according to its customer’s needs.

Comment: Backed by big-name investors like Sofinnova, MetGen recently made a name for itself via participation as a preferred enzyme developer in EU Horizon 2020 projects. The biotech is trying to refine biomass conversion processes, which typically have low yields, consume large amounts of energy or chemicals and are highly capital intensive. Thus, MetGen’s industrial enzymes could potentially accelerate the displacement of fossil fuels as a feedstock by bio-based alternatives.

MetGen also recently developed a new process for the efficient production of FDCA, a main building block of bioplastics, from lignocellulosic biomass. However, key competitor Avantium may be one step ahead. The company is currently building the first commercial-scale plant for FDCA together with German BASF.

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Images via shutterstock.com / Shin Okamoto and metgen.com

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