Synbio Power Pitch
Meet the Semifinalists:
Team Umkele (previously Zimmuti)
This project seeks to develop a cyanobacteria chassis capable of synthesizing and exporting hydrophilic products such as sugars that can support E. coli production systems for high productivity in an on-demand autonomous continous-flow system.
Team: Stephen Mukuze, Kenani Kenani, Dr. Petros Chigwechoka, Dr. Stephen Obol Opiyo, Startup, Zimbabwe
Fashion industry is a polluter worldwide and new generation materials are required. Spider silk is a proposed substitute, however, E. coli biofactory exhibits a high feedstock usage problem. We propose a green biofactory strategy, using atmospheric CO2 as a carbon source to produce the spider silk.
Team: Almiro Pires da Silva Neto, Adrielle Sacramento, Carolina Silva, Flavia Rodrigues, Flávia Sanches. Students, Brazil
Team Nordic Bioproducts
Our patented AaltoCell process can power clean, abundant, 0-loss of energy sugar streams for biotechnology applications. We can also produce an injection moldable bioplastics from PLA, produced from our own residual sugars, nanocellulose and fibrillated microcrystalline cellulose made out of industrial sidestreams. Our material is compostable but can also be recycled! Our material is cheaper than PLA and it is much easier to process than PLA.
Team: Olli Kähkönen, Ville Nyman, Dario Forneris, Oskari Larkimo, Eetu Satosalmi. Startup, Finland
Team ABSI Kenya
Diarrhea, caused by inadequate supply of clean water and sanitation is the leading cause of death among children in Africa, and second in the world. 27,400 children under five years (1 in 5) and an additional 10,100 people above 5 years die each year in Kenya due to diarrheal diseases alone. There is therefore need for an affordable, accurate home deployable biosensor that will not only report on water quality but also put the minds of users at ease. This will also help in achieving the sustainable development goal number 6. (United Nations, 2015) Engineering a gene circuit for detection and reporting of indicator microbes and chemicals commonly found in drinking water in Kenya. We will validate the accuracy of the engineered biosensor using PCR and chemical assays from water obtained from slums in Kenya. Ultimately we will develop a microbial and chemical contaminant biosensor that is cheap, accurate, home deployable and easy to use. Phase 2 will Provide biodegradable plastic-based water filters for use alongside the biosensor.
Team: Machoka Richard, Mary Muturi, Bukhosi Masuku, Kelly Nyanchama, Enock Chebu, Startup, Kenya
Team Hakai - Multiplastic degrading bacteria
Although microbial degradation of plastics isn’t a new concept at all, our bioreactor provides a means for degrading three different types of plastics. Once these plastics are degraded, their by-products can be used in different ways like recycling them for generation of more plastic, creating fertilizers or alternatively degrading them further to obtain even simpler compounds like ethanol.
Team: Ranjini Mukherjee Bhavana Girish, Students, India
Team GEnoM IIT Madras
Industrial whey wastewater discharge is of great environmental concern. With ever increasing production and wastage rates, we utilize whey to produce bacterial cellulose by engineering different strains of the K.xylinus species, paving the way for its industrial production for commercial purposes.
Team: Gayathri Prakash, Neha Swaminathan, Varshini, Jai, Dhruv, Ashvita, Ujjaval, Students, India
In Europe 4 million tons of used cooking oils (UCO) are produced per year and only 5% is collected mostly for biofuel production. The rest is wrongly disposed of, polluting our environment. REWOW valorizes this waste product through a biotechnological process to produce bio-based polymers which can find applications in different fields. REWOW's idea solves the unsustainable production of fossil-based polymers and the lack of upcycle processes for UCOs. The Market for bio-based polymers is steadily increasing. The bio-based polymers proposed by REWOW are novel polymeric compounds that are not present in the market. The polymers are specifically aliphatic polyesters which can substitute other fossil-based polyolefins which, moreover, are not biodegradable. Our products derive from waste materials and they show high versatility. REWOW is developing a portfolio of products which can find application in different fields. The first product is an ingredient for cosmetic formulations used as dispersant of powders used in sunscreens and make-up. Further R&D activities will help the development of other products.
Team: Antonino Biundo, Ilaria Lorusso, Lawyer (CLO);
Alessandro Cristiano, MBA (CFO), Startup, Italy
Bacterial diseases in agriculture cause more than 70B USD in damages. Antibiotics and pesticides are not only increasingly ineffective but also damaging to the environment and human health. Bacteriophages, safe viruses infecting bacteria only, is one of the most promising alternatives, but the current method to select for phages against specific bacterial pathogens is almost 100 years old: it’s very outdated, manual, inefficient, and unscalable. Uniphage has developed the most efficient models to date to computationally predict phages against target bacterial pathogens to replace this process and make it possible to produce new antibacterial solutions within mere week. We will first target bacterial diseases in agriculture, starting with a currently incurable and devastating disease of citruses - citrus greening.
Team: Sofia Sigal-Passeck, Chris Lis, Vincenzo Pennisi, and Prof. Maurice Cheung
Startup, USA & Singapore
Our team, Chitoswitch, is developing a genetic switch that improves animal-free chitin and chitosan production from waste biomass of industrial-scale yeast and fungal fermentation processes for animal-free chitin and chitosan production.
Team: PhD candidate An Nguyen, Prof. Alexander Frey, Students and Researchers, Finland
Enzymity is about plastics circularity - instead of waiting for mass adoption of biodegradable plastics, our idea is to make existing plastics biodegradable. At the core of the concept is enzymatic depolymerization: in other words, using custom recombinant proteins to break down plastics into monomers. The specialized enzymes are produced by a metabolically optimized host and then combined with ground-up plastic waste in a depolymerization reactor. The resulting monomers are separated and purified to serve as inputs for new virgin plastic, while the enzymes are recovered for the next depolymerization cycle. The first cases we are working on are PET and PE, while our ultimate goal is to be able to safely break down any plastic waste mix into high-grade reusable components, potentially without the need for sorting and other pre-treatment - an integrated platform for true plastics circularity!
Team: Andrii Shekhirev, Aleksejs Kolpakovs, Elina Dace, Filips Oleskovs,
Egils Stalidzans, Janis Liepins, Startup Latvia
Oil palm industry can produce up to 170 million tons empty fruit bunch waste per year. What can we do to utilize this large amount of waste? We plan to engineer yeast which can convert cellulose from empty fruit bunch waste into 1-octanol based biodiesel to reduce CO2 emission of the fuel.
Team: Alfero Putra Iryanto, Dwi Grawana Chalista, Indira Prakoso,
Muhammad Farrel Ewaldo, Muhammad Ilham Fahri, Indonesia
Photosynthetic Solid-State Cell Factories
from Microalgae and Nanocellulose
We demonstrate the use of nanocelluloses and photosynthetic microalgae to create solid state cell factories for efficient carbon capture and sustainable biocatalytic production of fuels and chemicals. Combining synthetic biology, bio- and materials technology, these renewable platforms utilize CO2 and sunlight as virtually unlimited energy sources, promoting a transition towards circular low-carbon bioeconomy across multiple industrial sectors. In contrast to traditional cell factories based suspension culturing that only utilizes a fraction of the algae’s potential, we immobilize the cells within a porous and transparent nanocellulose matrix. This not only enhances cell viability and light utilization efficiency, but also greatly decreases the water and energy consumption of the system. The use of nanocelluloses brings many advantages over conventional immobilization materials: besides being biocompatible and highly tunable, their unique capacity to hold water enables favorable water and gas transition properties, while the nanoscaled fibrillar network provides much-needed mechanical stability and control over the density/porosity structure.
Team: Ville Rissanen, Tekla Tammelin, Finland
Wood to wearables
Aromatics oil-free for the textile industry
What if instead of incinerating wood waste, carbon that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere could be utilised to produce high value chemicals? Muconic acid is an industrially relevant high value compound traditionally produced from petroleum feedstock via chemical synthesis. This environmentally unfriendly production method could be replaced with sustainable microbial production, with wood waste lignin as a carbon source. I propose the use of identified and characterised enzymes in white-rot fungi for the utilisation of aromatic lignin-deconstruction products. Based on the work of Del Cerro et al. (2021), the relevant enzymes could be transferred to a preferred chassis strain enabling the conversion of lignin to muconic acid via aromatic intermediates. The muconic acid would be produced in yeast, a preferable host strain to bacteria and fungi, under minimal media conditions. Furthermore, with the help of a synthetic switch, competing enzyme activities, even the ones essential for growth, can be switched off to create a living catalyst that can redirect resources towards muconic acid production, enhancing yield and productivity.
Team: Natalia Kakko, Dorothee Bart, Satu Hilditch,
Katariina Kemppainen, Finland
MPower: Microbial fuel cells for carbon-negative power generation from waste streams with microbes
Microbial fuel cells are biological analogues of traditional fuel cells, converting biomass (carbohydrates) to usable electricity power using microbes. They present a carbon-negative source for constant power generation from waste water remediation plants, generating hydrogen and methane as addition
Team: Prateek Singh, Startup, Finland