Danone, Michelin and Others Join to Develop Large-Scale Fermentation

The goal of the Biotech Open Platform is to accelerate the development of precision fermentation to produce more sustainable products.

DMC has a technology platform, Dynamic Metabolic Control, that makes fermentation more standardized, robust, and predictable.
DMC has a technology platform, Dynamic Metabolic Control, that makes fermentation more standardized, robust, and predictable.
DMC Biotechnologies

Precision fermentation is an emerging technology that has seen significant advancements and interest in recent years. Within the food space, key applications of the biotechnological process include alternative proteins that can mimic animal-derived products; and functional ingredients such as bioactive compounds and vitamins.

French multinational dairy giant Danone is showing how interested it is in advanced fermentation technologies and the promise of healthier, more sustainable alternatives as it joins with other French organizations—and a U.S. startup that holds some important fermentation technology—to create a cutting-edge biotechnology platform.

Danone is joining another French industrial leader, Michelin, startup DMC Biotechnologies, and investor Crédit Agricole Centre France to develop the Biotech Open Platform, focused on the development of advanced fermentation processes, particularly precision fermentation, on a larger scale.

“At Danone, we have always been focused on investing in the future of food, and this partnership is the next step in this journey,” says Antoine de Saint-Affrique, CEO of Danone. “We look forward to working with our partners to develop cutting-edge fermentation technologies which will accelerate innovation, health benefits, and decarbonization in the food industry. We are proud to be part of this collective effort and to strengthen our contribution to meet the challenges facing the industry today.”

The first phase of the collaboration will carry an investment of more than €16 million ($17.2 million). The industrial and technological platform will be located in Clermont-Ferrand within the Parc Cataroux Center for Sustainable Materials, an innovation accelerator supported by Michelin. The Biotech Open Platform is also supported by several public and private institutions, including the University of Clermont Auvergne, Greentech, the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Region under the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), and Clermont Auvergne Métropole.

“The Michelin group is pleased to announce the creation, with its partners, of the Biotech Open Platform—a unique tool that will enhance the development of bio-sourced materials, a key challenge for the industry of tomorrow,” says Florent Menegaux, president of the Michelin group.

The promise of precision fermentation

The Biotech Open Platform is part of a larger push for more innovative and sustainable solutions for food production as well as other materials. Precision fermentation shows promise in this realm—a cutting-edge technology that uses microorganisms like bacteria, yeast, or fungi to produce proteins, enzymes, and other molecules. It is particularly suited to innovation in the agri-food and materials sectors.

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Producing precision fermentation on a larger scale, however, has been more elusive. Scaling up to production levels will require continued advances in bioreactor technologies and process optimization.

The U.S.-based participant in this endeavor, DMC, has a technology platform, Dynamic Metabolic Control, that makes fermentation more standardized, robust, and predictable. “For us, as an American startup, the development of the new Biotech Open Platform will enable us to accelerate the scale-up and commercialization of new products leveraging our transformative fermentation technology,” says Kenny Erdoes, DMC’s CEO.

The Biotech Open Platform’s ambition is to accelerate the development of precision fermentation by enabling the scale-up of innovative products and processes already tested in the laboratory. The project plans to install an initial demo-scale production line by next year, including a fermenter and purification equipment. Additional equipment will be installed in the following years, including a second production line. This ramp-up will enable the platform to meet the scale-up needs of its founders and to gradually open it up to other companies facing the challenge of scaling up in the industrial biomanufacturing sector.

The view could go beyond the current center, expanding biotechnology in the region, according to Frédéric Baraut, CEO of Crédit Agricole Centre France. “By contributing to the Biotech Open Platform, we are helping to develop a new bio-based sector based in Clermont-Ferrand and also adding to the value and the attractiveness of the region,” he says. “This will also help provide opportunities and synergies to the startups in our Innovation Village, also in the Parc Cataroux.”

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