Environmental and Industrial Biotechnologies

Industrial biotechnology is the convergence of numerous scientific and engineering disciplines to provide bioprocessing options that have a  transversal impact on several economic sectors. Industrial biotechnology offers a new sustainable approach to manufacturing materials, chemicals, and generating energy from renewable resources, thus enabling the so-called circular bioeconomy. To this end, the European Union (EU) has recognized industrial biotechnology as a key enabling technology (KET) due to its economic sustainability and international competitiveness.

Natural biological resources are crucial for our economic system, but they are increasingly overexploited for the provision of food, materials and energy. Therefore, industrial biotechnology is intrinsically linked to environmental biotechnology, which aims to prevent, arrest and reverse environmental degradation through the appropriate use of biotechnology in symbiosis with other technologies. Wastewater management, among other operations, can be impacted by biological and biochemical engineering approaches.

research challenges

  • Bio-based production of high-value chemicals and enzymes from plant cells and microbes by fermentation and recovery operations.
  • Valorization of end-of-use biomass and other waste streams from agri-food supply chains as a source for bioenergy, biopolymers, and chemical building blocks for innovative and commercially interesting applications.
  • Development of new technologies for environmental monitoring, with an emphasis on biomonitoring systems to improve the assessment of water quality.
  • Development, performance testing and economic evaluation of biomanufacturing schemes and scalable technologies.

Application areas

  • Cosmetics and bioactive compounds
  • Nutraceuticals and advanced food ingredients
  • Bioprotection and biocontrol agents
  • Environmental diagnostics
  • Bioenergy and renewable chemicals and materials
  • Bioprocess design and scale-up

Research groups

  • Downstream Bioprocessing: Enabling of biomanufacturing, from the bench to the pilot plant. Bioprocess integration and intensification. Bioproduct recovery, purification, and advanced formulation.
  • Environmental Microbiology: Microorganisms and microbial communities, including links to public health and “one health” considerations.
  • Microbiome Engineering: Exploiting of microbial consortiums for biotechnological applications, renewable energy and biorefining.
  • Plant Molecular Farming: Exploiting of plants and plant cell culture technology to produce bioactive compounds.

Key partners 



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