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A Boost For EU Synbio Competitiveness

The European Union has awarded an €8 million grant to the ShikiFactory100 project, an international collaboration between some of Europe's most relevant players in the biotechnology sector and coordinated by biotech SME, SilicoLife. The ShikiFactory100 project aims to produce a universe of more than 100 high-value compounds from the shikimate pathway, a hub in cell metabolism, through the development of optimized cell chassis and the implementation of novel biosynthetic routes for the generation of known, and new to nature, molecules.

The ShikiFactory project involves 11 partners from 7 countries: SilicoLife (Portugal), Technical University of Denmark (Denmark), European Molecular Biology Laboratory (Germany), École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (Switzerland), Universidade NOVA de Lisboa (Portugal), University of Manchester (UK), University of Minho (Portugal), c-LEcta (Germany), GalChimia (Spain), NNFCC (UK), and DSM (Netherlands).

“The ShikiFactory100 project offers enormous potential for the competitiveness of Europe's biotechnology sector. The scale and integration of state-of-the-art technologies proposed here is unprecedented at an EU level, and promises to boost Europe's leadership in the field of synthetic biology globally. It is hoped that this project will set in motion a new EU-wide trend for biotechnology development to increase the overall competitiveness of our bioeconomy.” - Simão Soares, SilicoLife (Project Coordinator). 

The development of economically feasible and sustainable biotechnological processes as alternatives to oil-based chemistry is one of the major goals of a bio-based economy and the global chemical industry has started to transition from the use of conventional petrochemical processes to novel bio-based ones. Synthetic biology and bio-based processes are expected to become the preferred approach for the production of chemicals in the future through the use of sustainable, renewable feedstocks and highly optimized cell factories.

“Synthetic Biology has the potential to transform a range of economic sectors based on the availability of cost competitive cell factories for the production of chemicals. The success of this strategy will require efficient, robust and versatile cell factories but the improvement of currently used strains towards such platforms is hindered by the limitations of conventional methods for strain improvement. In this project we aim at greatly accelerating microbial cell factory construction by developing and combining novel computational, in vitro, and in vivo methods.” Isabel Rocha, Universidade NOVA de Lisboa (Project Scientific and Technical Manager).

The ShikiFactory100 project will develop and consolidate an integrated synthetic biology platform for engineering tailored strains, based on simplified and optimized genomes for the efficient, cost-effective, bio-based production of chemicals derived from the shikimate hub.

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