BUILDING SECTORS

BUILDING SECTORS

From its roots in the development of innovative therapies, Genopole is expanding into the bioeconomy, a growing sector at the biocluster, and computational genomics, an emerging sector that is an enabler of biotech applications. These sectors are being adopted as a biocluster development orientation because they are in harmony with Genopole’s mission, which is to support the entire innovation maturation chain, from targeted training to basic and applied research and on to industrial development.

The bioeconomy sector at Genopole

Committing to the bioeconomy, a seedbed for sustainable innovation

Genopole contributes actively to the development of the bioeconomy sector. This latter is of primordial importance for France and a seedbed of innovations aimed at greening industrial production for such fields as healthcare (biodrugs) energy (biofuels), foods (synthetic flavorings), materials (bioplastics) and many more.

No less than 25 Genopole-accredited companies are part of this sector wherein the genetic and physiological properties of life (plants, yeasts, bacteria, etc.) are harnessed to produce molecules of interest for industry.
Because this sector strategy only has sense at a macro level, Genopole works in partnership with other national bioeconomy actors such as Toulouse White Biotechnology, which Genopole visited in February, and the Center for Biotechnology and Bioeconomy (CEBB; groParisTech/CentraleSupélec/URCA), located at the Pomacle- Bazancourt (Marne) agro-industry site. In January, CEBB’s research teams were invited to discover the expertise and equipment available at Genoscope (CEA) and the Genopole company Abolis, a specialist in synthetic biology. A seminar comprising thematic workshops on biomass valorization and “omics” approaches was held in parallel, providing 30 researchers from the two entities with an opportunity to meet and exchange ideas.

Fermentors for pilot-scale projects

Beyond helping to create scientific partnerships, supporting the bioeconomy sector also implies investing in state of the art technologies and mutualizing them for the involved labs and businesses. That is one of Genopole’s roles: create, update and strengthen platforms for the R&D needs of Genopole entities. For example, the fermentor bioproduction platform located within the incubator was recently enriched with four additional mini-fermentors, thus enabling the pilotscale (20-liter) bioproduction of compounds of interest by bacteria or yeasts.

The ancillary services suite at the incubator was also made better for bioeconomy companies by the addition of new tools, notably an epifluorescence video microscope for prokaryote studies. Further downstream, the Évry campus’s mass spectrometry platform, a role of which is to verify fermentation-produced compounds, was enlarged with a Q-TOF mass spectrometer and a surface plasmon resonance instrument coupled with a Maldi-TOF/TOF mass spectrometer.

An increasing number of companies in the sector see Genopole as a potential home. For example, nextProtein, a Franco-Tunisian manufacturer of insect proteins for fish farming, chose Genopole’s incubator in September 2020.

The objective for the years to come is to anchor Genopole among the top-rank public actors for the bioeconomy in France and make its campuses attractive sites for the sector’s researchers and industrials.

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ENVIRONMENTAL INNOVATION FLASH

To garner media visibility for Genopole’s commitment to the bioeconomy, an onsite press visit was held on 7 October under the banner “Biotech Innovations for the environment.” The event program, developed with the Environmental Journalists Association (AJE) put the spotlight on five bioeconomy companies: Global Bioenergies, Altar, Glowee, Evaldépol and Cearitis. The companies opened their labs for visits and responded to the journalists’ questions. After a presentation on Genopole’s strategy by Gilles Lasserre, the program continued with a visit to the Open Lab, a shared-use space within the incubator (Essonne CCI) developed by Genopole to welcome young start-ups.

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COMPANIES

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ALGENTECH, A RARE EUROPEAN ACTOR IN GENOME EDITING

The genome editing technology CRISPR-Cas9 developed by Emmanuelle Charpentier (France) and Jennifer Doudna (USA) earned them the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Algentech, a company created at Genopole in 2009, is one of a handful of European companies in the genome editing field. First in Europe then in the United States, Algentech has been granted patents for its innovative technology able to increase the efficacy of gene editing in eukaryotes whatever the molecular scissors, including CRISPR-Cas9.

COMPANIES

Ÿnsect extends its collection of records

What a start for Ÿnsect, a company emblematic of FrenchTech that just won’t stop collecting records! Launched in the Genopole incubator, the start-up quickly needed much more room to establish its R&D center, which has become the world’s largest insect farming and transformation facility. Ÿnsect had a rewarding year with its insect-based biological solutions for chemical fertilizers, fish farming and pet nutrition. Its technology involving mealworm beetles reared on cereal by-products and transformed into nutriments is protected by close to 30 patents, which is no less than 40% of the total patent portfolio of the ten largest insect farming companies.

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The company has the total confidence of its international investors. Indeed, Ÿnsect raised €315 million from them, and in so doing, carried out the most successful fund-raising campaign ever by a non- American agriculture company. Ÿnsect also ranked third among the ten French companies having raised more than €100 million in 2020. This new arrival of capital lifts the company’s total investments since its creation to €350 million—more than the entirety of funds raised by insect-sector companies worldwide! Among the new investors are several American entities, including Upfront Ventures, Los Angeles’ largest venture capital firm, and Foot Print Coalition, an investment group founded by Actor Robert Downey Jr, who brought undreamed of attention to the company when he held up a jar of its insect powder on a major American television late show. The video went around the world. The capital increase will finance the construction, close to Amiens, of the world’s largest vertical insect farm providing a yearly ingredient production capacity of 100,000 metric tons.

The company’s insect-derived fertilizer reaches the market

In addition to being named “Revelation of the Year” in the 2020 BFM Awards in November, Ÿnsect’s fertilizer, ŸnFrass, garnered market authorization from the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & safety (ANSES). The start-up thus became the first worldwide to obtain commercial homologation for a natural, insect-derived fertilizer. ŸnFrass granules can be used in all types of plant culturing: market farming, arboriculture, viticulture, lawn grasses, ornamental flowers, intensive corn, colza & wheat farming, etc. In a study performed on potted barley, the mealworm beetle waste (“frass”) proved as effective as mineral fertilizers, and, when mixed with them, stimulated soil microbial activity. Ÿnsect has given exclusive French agriculture market commercialization rights for its organic fertilizer to the company Angibaud. Other contracts have been signed with Torres, a Spanish wine producer, and the Compo Group for the gardening market.

COMPANIES

EVALDÉPOL CONCEIVES A PROGRAM FOR INDUSTRIAL GROUNDS REMEDIATION

Evaldépol has conceived a novel computer program, called Kiwi-Maps, for the remediation of soils affected by industrial pollution. Already a Booster laureate, Evaldépol has also received a Genopole research grant for the development of this artificial intelligence tool. The program assesses soil data to identify the nature and the penetration depth of pollutants, and thereafter determines a tailored remedial process. Kiwi- Maps represents a solution for industrial remediation operations, which are an element of the French Government’s economic stimulus plan.

COMPANIES

GLOBAL BIOENERGIES TURNS ITS ATTENTION TO COSMETICS

Created and located at Genopole, the Euronext-Growth-traded company Global Bioenergies was first focused on renewably-resourced isobutylene production for conversion to biofuels, bioplastics, plexiglasses and elastomers. In 2020, the company’s center of gravity shifted to cosmetics. As a notable first step, on 24 November, Global Bioenergies registered its first ingredient with the European Union’s Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals (REACH) regulatory system.

COMPANIES

Abolis associates with Bel and Lesaffre for more natural nutrition

The biocluster company Abolis Biotechnologies, a specialist in synthetic biology, has joined forces with the industrial groups Bel and Lesaffre, and the Toulouse Biotechnology Institute (INSA Toulouse/CNRS/Inrae) for the project MetaPath. The objective of this latter is to increase knowledge on the function of microbial ecosystems used in the food & agriculture industry.
To better respond to costumer expectations, that industry is seeking to reduce the use of taste, texture or conservation enhancers in foods. Via their metabolic functions, microorganisms (yeasts, bacteria, etc.) can, in some cases, provide natural equivalents to these additives. However, before any use of these organisms for large-scale industrial processes, a minutiose understanding of the biological mechanisms and biochemical reactions occurring during fermentation must be acquired.
MetaPath, laureate of the ninth “Competitiveness Structuring Projects” call of the Investments for the Future program (PIA), is aimed at just that.

A path for the synthesis of food flavors

Particularly, MetaPath seeks to develop a program for the in silico modeling of the biochemical reactions of microbial consortia. A first version of the program’s central algorithm was developed by Abolis in partnership with Bel, and submitted to a series of blind tests enabling the identification of the synthesis pathways of 41 of 44 target flavors.
MetaPath benefits from a €9.4 million budget, €5 million of which is provided by the PIA piloted by the French Secretary General for Investment and operated by Bpifrance.

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GLOWEE INVENTS AN ENLIGHTENING GAME ON BIOLUMINESCENCE

Currently growing in the incubator, Glowee develops bioluminance systems as alternatives to conventional electric lighting.
Recently the start-up developed an educational game on bioluminescence called Biolumia, for which a crowdfunding campaign drew 250 contributions. Biolumia is aimed at a wide audience of players who embark on a journey to the bottom of the sea to encounter an impressive number of marine organisms able to produce their own light.

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