JGC Holdings (HD), which focuses on engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) of plants, and Bacchus BioInnovation (Kobe, President Mikio Tanji), a Kobe University startup, announced that they will collaborate in the biofoundry business, which produces useful substances using microbes and other materials.
Bacchus, of which Professor Akihiko Kondo of Kobe University’s Graduate School serves as director, has been providing contract services for the production of useful substances using genetically modified microorganisms since 2021. The business involves selecting microorganisms suitable for the production of desired substances from among a wide variety of microorganisms, modifying their genes, etc., and providing them to customers. By utilizing molecular biology technology and digital technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, and data science, the workflow of designing (D), building (B), evaluating (T), and learning (Learn) microorganisms that produce useful substances is turned around in a high-throughput manner, The company’s strength lies in its ability to develop host microorganisms in a short period of time. Bacchus receives compensation for the development of the microorganisms, and a certain amount of royalty income on future sales .
JGC HD has experience in mammalian culture facilities for biopharmaceuticals, and has participated in a New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) project to handle microorganisms for bioethanol production. JGC HD’s long-term management vision, “2040 Vision,” calls for the expansion of its non-EPC business, and the company intends not only to receive compensation for the design and construction of manufacturing facilities, but also to conclude license agreements with customers and earn royalty income on the sales of the customers. From this business, the company hopes to generate royalty income at the tens of billions of yen level by 2040. This figure may be difficult to achieve unless commodity chemicals are manufactured using bioprocesses rather than high value-added specialty products.
Bacchus and JGC HD, together with Kaneka and Shimadzu Corporation, were selected for NEDO’s Green Innovation Fund project in March 2023, and are also working on the development of microorganisms and production processes to produce biodegradable biopolymers from CO2.