DAB.bio making revolutionary technology available at small scale
Backgroundstory project innovation program Energie & Klimaat
With its nnovative bioreactor technology FAST, DAB.bio, a successful spin-off from TU Delft, creates sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels and chemicals. The startup is currently working on an add-on called ISPRIN, that enables manufacturing companies and researchers to use the technology in a small and simplified version in their own labs.. Kirsten Steinbusch, CTO of DAB.bio, stated, ‘We will incorporate the feedback from these lab tests to expedite the commercial application of our revolutionary bioreactor.’ DAB.bio received €40,000 from the Energy & Climate program of InnovationQuarter to develop the add-on.
“Biotechnology offers a wealth of opportunities to replace fossil fuel chemicals with circular, bio-based alternatives”, says Kirsten. “But the high costs involved are a major obstacle to the industrial application of biotechnology.” DAB.bio’s FAST halves the cost by producing chemicals from organic products, such as sugars and biomass, much faster and more efficiently.
The average bioreactor can produce in batch for five consecutive days at most, but FAST enable continuous fermentation for as long as desired. “At a certain point, the product becomes so concentrated that it inhibits further microbial growth, stopping production”, explains Kirsten. “FAST and FASTmini separate and remove the concentrated product, allowing organisms to keep growing and producing.
The customers of DAB.bio are often large producers in various sectors. Kirsten: “Thanks to our FAST technology, many more biobased products can be created. So far, primarily fragrances, flavors, and cosmetic ingredients have been produced through fermentation, with a minimal impact on CO2 emissions. With the significant cost reduction achieved through FAST, we can now produce chemical building blocks from biobased feedstock. This allows us to make real progress in reducing fossil raw materials.”
The add-on, ISPRIN, emulates an important condition in a smaller and simplified version and shows how it improves production. The ISPRIN can also be added to almost any lab fermenter. This makes it accessible for (potential) customers to start testing it in advance and to incorporate it into their own lab’s process development.
The successful Delft University of Technology spin-off is using its Energy & Climate voucher to further improve ISPRIN’s design and test it with commercial parties and universities. Testing is taking place in partners’ labs and at DAB.bio in Planet B.io, the Delft-based field lab that works closely with InnovationQuarter and the province of South Holland.
Through their joint innovation programme ‘Energie & Klimaat’, the Metropolitan Region Rotterdam The Hague (MRDH), the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO), the province of South Holland and InnovationQuarter promote sustainable innovation in the region. As a portfolio company of IQCapital, DAB.bio has been receiving financial and strategic support from InnovationQuarter since 2020. Within the current Energy & Climate programme, DAB.bio is focusing on testing, validating and commercialising the add-on.
Kirsten aims to use the test project to showcase the wide applicability of the technology by demonstrating that it works with different types of microbes. “And our test partners’ feedback will provide us with valuable information, allowing us to continue fine-tuning the technology.”
InnovationQuarter mainly provides the scale-up with financial and strategic support. Kirsten continues: “We’ve been fortunate to receive this assistance for some years now. This gives us the freedom to explore new ideas without being distracted from our core business processes. InnovationQuarter reduces the risk of new side projects for us.”
Kirsten describes the development of the scale-up as a “huge success story”. “In less than ten years, we’ve developed this concept – an idea we initially came up with at Delft University of Technology – into an operational bioreactor”.
The Energy & Climate programme will run until the end of this year. Kirsten concludes: “In the coming six months, we’ll be collecting results from our test partners and can then use them to improve the prototype add-on. Commercial rollout will follow. And from next year onwards, our technology will help make processes in many different industries more efficient and sustainable.”
All information about DAB.bio can be found here. Need support to bring your project one step closer to implementation? Then check out the Energie & klimaat innovation program page for opportunities to accelerate your sustainable innovation. This innovation program is an initiative of the Province of South Holland, MRDH, TNO and InnovationQuarter. InnovationQuarter coordinates this program on behalf of the partners. Please direct any questions to Matthijs Damm.