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Novo Holdings invests 86m EUR in 21st.BIO

By December 21, 2021January 30th, 2024No Comments
  • Novo Holdings invests 86 million EUR in 21st.BIO, a bioindustrial scale-up company with a technology base from Novozymes

Novo Holdings, a leading international life science investor, today announces a significant investment in 21st.BIO A/S – a new Danish bioindustrial scale-up company.

21st.BIO was founded in 2020 with the aim of helping bioindustrial companies worldwide to scale up from molecular innovation to large-scale production to meet market demand and thus promote the green transition.

The company’s focus areas include the production of proteins and peptides that can be used in the food, materials and agricultural industries. It is estimated that up to 60 per cent of the physical raw material supply to the global economy can be produced biologically.

Today, many bioindustrial innovations are never commercialized due to the challenges that arise when the production of a molecule has to be scaled up from the laboratory to full-scale production. This is because the production environment that originally developed the molecule often cannot deliver the required quality at an acceptable cost.

In addition, the innovators often have the problem that they do not have access to the skills and facilities that can develop a molecule production process in the desired quality and at a competitive cost level.

Thomas Schmidt, managing director and co-founder of 21st.BIO, says: “Many excellent industrial biotechnology ideas never catch on because the production challenges result in the final product being priced too high. Therefore, many otherwise fantastic innovations never reach a scale where they really become relevant to the world. 21 st .BIO can provide the right process for the production of new molecules and peptides and thus support that innovators can take the difficult steps from innovation to big business successfully. We have access to Novozymes’ competences on commercial terms. This means that success for 21st.BIO is also a success for Novozymes.”

Towards future markets

21st.BIO’s technology platform is based on elements of Novozymes’ platform, which has been developed and optimized over the past 40 years. Novozymes has entered into an agreement with 21st.BIO for a co-exclusive license within certain frameworks, which ensures that Novozymes can maintain its leadership position within the areas where the company works.

Claus Crone Fuglsang, Executive Vice President, Novozymes, says: “A strong environment for industrial biotech, supported by companies that are now able to scale their innovation, will be an important link in building the markets of the future. The entire industry benefits from a forward-looking development of new biotechnological solutions. We see this as an opportunity to spread parts of our technology in a new context and enable the transition to a bio-based society. In this way, we create greater value – also for Novozymes’ shareholders.”

New pilot plant on the drawing board

Novo Holdings invests 86 million EUR in 21st.BIO. Søren Møller, Managing Partner in Novo Seeds, Novo Holdings, joins the board.

“I am very happy to become part of 21st.BIO and participate in the efforts to get more biological solutions onto the market and thus speed up the green transition. The technology that 21st.BIO offers addresses an important and unmet global need, and I see great potential in synergies and partnerships between 21st.BIO and other Novo Holdings’ portfolio companies in the industrial biotech sector,” says Søren Møller.

21st.BIO are active in Denmark and California, but the investments from Novozymes and Novo Holdings will enable the company to further expand its capacity.

“With the technology platform from Novozymes and Novo Holdings’ financing, 21st.BIO will be able to grow and establish the first production facility that can serve customers worldwide. With both Novo Holdings and Novozymes on board, we also get access to a larger network and a knowledge base that is very advantageous,” says Thomas Schmidt.

The technology in brief

21st.BIO helps customers to optimize and develop the relevant expression platform for large-scale production of their specific molecule. This is done by testing the customer’s molecule on different expression platforms, e.g. in fungi, yeast or bacteria.

Once the right expression platform has been identified, 21st.BIO draws on its extensive “strain bank” and selects and optimizes the most effective strains. This ultimately leads to an optimized manufacturing platform that enables customers to manufacture their product at commercially favorable costs and in the desired quantities.

The success potential for Novozymes will be realized when 21st.BIO completes the projects, as Novozymes’ income from the collaboration will be generated via license income when the new technologies are commercialized.