MBI. MSU Team Up to Speed Bio-based Technologies to Market

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MBI Lansing

LANSING — The Michigan Biotechnology Institute and Michigan State University have entered into a new collaborative arrangement, under which promising bio-based technologies will be accelerated from the laboratory to commercial deployment.

The agreement combines MSU’s research expertise with MBI’s “derisking” process and advanced bioprocessing to quickly and efficiently demonstrate the market-readiness of new technologies.

Intellectual property arising from the collaboration will be bundled, providing industrial partners with both a more valuable technology package and a streamlined process for accessing the technology.

“MSU is a world leader in bioscience research, especially in the production of renewable plant biomass, and in the conversion of biomass to fuels, chemicals, feed, and materials,” stated Stephen Hsu, MSU’s vice president for research and graduate studies. “By combining MSU’s research with MBI’s unique technical, commercial and scale-up capabilities, we are positioning ourselves to be a leading hub for biotechnology innovation.”

Under the collaboration, MBI’s multi-disciplinary technical and business experts will work closely with MSU faculty and technology transfer specialists to identify promising technologies arising from MSU research. Selected technologies will be “derisked” by MBI. Derisking is a term coined by MBI to denote a disciplined, stage-gated innovation process designed to rapidly demonstrate commercial viability at a meaningful pilot scale.

“Once the commercial viability of a technology is demonstrated, the value of a technology and probability of market adoption increase dramatically,” stated Bobby Bringi, MBI’s chief executive officer, “MBI engages with potential industrial partners to rapidly advance proven technologies to market, while maximizing their economic, environmental and social benefits.”

“MSU will benefit in several ways from this collaboration,” said Richard Chylla, executive director of MSU Technologies, the MSU office for technology transfer and commercialization. “Working closely with MBI, faculty can see their intellectual contributions turn into robust practical applications. MSU will benefit from the financial and reputational returns generated by successful commercial deployment of new technologies.”

Current projects approaching market-readiness include the development of bio-based succinic acid with Claire Vieille (Microbiology), Dennis Miller (Chemical Engineering) and Thomas Pinnavaia (Chemistry), and Afex biomass processing technology with Bruce Dale (Chemical Engineering). Earlier-stage projects include the development of a bio-based terpene with Tom Sharkey (Biochemistry), gas-intensive fermentation processing with Mark Worden (Chemical Engineering), and a new metabolic route to a bio-based monomer with Tim Whitehead (Chemical Engineering).

MBI is a not-for-profit company with more than 30 years of experience in scaling up bio-based technologies. Incorporated in 1981, MBI has been a wholly owned subsidiary of the MSU Foundation since 2005. Capabilities include biomass processing, strain and fermentation development and downstream processing at bench and pilot scale. MBI has a history of successful collaborations with companies large and small, spanning bio-based fuels, chemicals and polymers. The company is also a collaborator with the U.S. Department of Energy Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center, a biofuels research initiative led by the University of Wisconsin and MSU. More at www.mbi.org

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