Henk Noorman on Commercializing Industrial Biotechnology [Interview]

Commercializing Industrial Biotechnology is a workshop where industrial biotech thought leaders will share their experiences and their views on current challenges. The outcome is a sharing of knowledge and know-how that can help us all advance together.

Henk Noorman will be speaking on recent advances in fermentation computation at the Commercializing Industrial Biotechnology 2019 (CIB 2019) conference in May. I spoke with Henk about his work and the importance of industrial biotechnology advancements.

What specifically will you be talking about at the CIB conference? 

My presentation will highlight recent advances in fermentation computation, shedding detailed light on the dynamic environment of microorganisms in large-scale bioreactors and its impact on metabolic heterogeneity. Application of the high-resolution computational framework to industrial fermentations of S. cerevisiae and P. chrysogenum has revealed root causes for scale-up issues and provided insight and new leads for integrated strain and process improvement. We further believe that this big-modeling approach, complementary to big data, will enable faster and cheaper scale-up of new bioprocesses.

What message would you like the audience to take away from your presentation and the conference?

My presentation will conclude that developments in advanced computation go fast and deployment in industry is already possible today, providing a stepping stone to development and application of enhanced reality concepts in bioprocess engineering. I think that the conference will underline that there are plenty of opportunities to bring (more) bio-products to the markets, and at the same time a step-up is needed in fast and robust engineering approaches, beyond trial and error.

How do you envision industrial biotechnology advancing some of the Grand Challenges in engineering and society (sustainability, health, etc.)? 

We firmly believe that advancing the bio-economy will provide sustainable solutions for grand challenges. After revolutions in gene editing and metabolic engineering, the step from innovation to commercialization has become a critical limiting factor. This is caused by lack of insight of processes operated at industrial scale and, with this, insufficient ground for integrated strain (re)design and (bio)process innovation. Our contribution aims to assist in overcoming this limitation.

The Commercializing Industrial Biotechnology 2019 (CIB 2019) conference will be held in Los Angeles from May 13-14, 2019. Learn more and register today.

Henk Noorman

Henk Noorman trained as a chemical engineer at Groningen University (NL). He obtained a PhD in Biotechnology from Delft University of Technology (NL), on microbial systems modeling. He became a post-doc fellow in a Nordic research consortium, coordinating a fermentation scale-up project among academic groups in Sweden, Denmark, and Norway. He then joined Gist-brocades and DSM in Delft (NL) and worked on fermentation process development and large-scale implementation projects, mainly in the area of antibiotics, food ingredients, biofuels, and bio-based chemicals.