From Concept to Commercialization – Experiences from Lactic Acid and Isobutanol

Posted 10/4/11 by . Filed under RAFT IX.

David Glassner Dr. Glassner will be Keynote Speaker at SIM’s 9th annual Recent Advances in Fermentation Technology. RAFT IX will be held November 6-9 in Marco Island, FL. The meeting theme is “From Concept to Commercialization.” Learn more about RAFT IX.

Many organizations are pursuing the production of industrial biochemicals and fuels using synthetic biology to create magic bugs. However, there are very few examples of success in the industrial biochemical and fuels sector because success is driven by high efficiency, low cost and large scale which is not easily achieved. This contribution will provide insights on meeting the challenges in moving novel, recombinant fermentation technology from concept to commercialization using lactic acid and isobutanol as examples.

The key characteristics of each project are similar and start with the definition of a target product and process forming an economically attractive business opportunity. The business opportunity created by the new product allows the target performance characteristics for the new microorganism to be established from a process economic analysis. Both operating and capital cost for implementation are considered in establishing the microorganism performance targets. However, the performance target is not established by looking at microorganism literature but rather on establishing a low cost, highly efficient manufacturing process that may be equaled but not beaten from an economic standpoint.

After the performance targets are established, resources required to successfully develop the fermentative organism must be assembled. The resources are a combination of funding and technical capabilities. The technical capabilities include personnel, equipment and facilities required to successfully execute the microorganism development project. Capabilities will make or break a project and certainly play a key role in the time required to reach commercialization or the possibility of ever reaching commercialization.

The final component in a successful commercialization is leadership. Strong leadership is required to obtain required resources, communicate how, when and why success will be attained and to inspire the team developing the microorganism to success. The key characteristics outlined will be illustrated by a variety of experiences and lessons learned on the way from concept to commercialization for lactic acid and isobutanol.

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