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TWB: first progress report ahead of schedule

On the occasion of the visit of Louis Gallois, the French General Commissioner for Investment, to Toulouse, the preindustrial demonstrator Toulouse White Biotechnology (TWB), headed by INRA, presented its first progress report in advance of forecasts. After ten short months, TWB already employs an on-site staff of 28 and has launched no less than eight research projects in partnership with industrial leaders, resulting in a turnover of close to €12m. In 2013, TWB is set to host some ten new research projects.

Toulouse White biotechnology, preindustrial demonstrator
Updated on 02/26/2013
Published on 11/15/2012

Toulouse White Biotechnology: pre-industrial demonstrator. © inra, Inra Tlse
Toulouse White Biotechnology: pre-industrial demonstrator © inra, Inra Tlse
Recommencing operations in early February 2012, the TWB demonstrator today brings together 36 partners, of which 20 are industrial players, 11 public partners and 5 investors. Housed in its own buildings as of August 1, along the canal of the technology park south of Toulouse, this pilot laboratory boasts technology platforms and state of the art equipment designed for high-level research projects. TWB is based on a close partnership with the LISB (Laboratoire d'Ingénierie des Systèmes Biologiques et des Procédés), a Toulouse-based joint INRA-CNRS-INSA BioSystems and Engineering research unit; the project management consulting company INRA Transfert; and the Ecole Supérieure d'Ethique des Sciences, the top school for Science and Ethics at the Catholic Institute of Toulouse.
With a turnover of €12m after just ten months of operations, TWB has a significant head start on its ten-year target of €22m. Its 28-member staff consists of engineers,  administrators and post-doctorates, as well a business unit which oversees operations  and develops partnerships in the public and industrial sectors. In addition to the three assignments created at the start of the project and three more posts added in 2012, INRA renews its commitment in 2013 with the creation of four new posts, for a total of ten. Extra support is provided in logistics, quality control, hygiene and safety, scientific monitoring and communications.

Alongside four competitive projects funded by industrial players, TWB self-funded four pre-competitive projects on key fundamental themes, breaking new ground to pave the way to important technological breakthroughs that will lead to new applications and innovative  biotechnology processes.

Most recently, the ThanaplastTM project, launched by the Clermont-based company Carbios to enhance the recycling of plastics, constitutes an important collaborative research initiative with a five-year budget of €22m shared by the consortium’s seven partners. The goal is to create industrial value in plastics during the last stages of the material’s life cycle by developing innovative technologies capable of producing, processing and recycling a wide variety of plastics through patented processes using enzymes. With a research contract of €7m in the finalising stages with TWB, this project will allow the demonstrator to add a dozen or more scientists and technicians to its staff.

TWB: a preindustrial demonstrator committed to developing a bio-based economy built on the use of renewable carbon.

The project, in line with INRA’s new research priorities for 2010-2020, boosts France’s competitiveness with its emphasis on biotechnologies (enzymes, micro-organisms, etc.), paving the way to the sustainable production of biofuels, chemical intermediates, biopolymers and biomaterials. With up to €20m of financing over ten years within the framework of the French Stimulus Initiative (Investissements d'avenir), the project receives the support of local authorities such as the Midi-Pyrénées region and the city of Toulouse. It secures France’s position in the global race for white biotechnologies.
TWB’s partnership-based approach led to collaboration with the 3BCar Carnot Institute (bioenergy, biomaterials and renewable carbon biomolecules).

To find out more: www.toulouse-white-biotechnology.com

Scientific contact(s):

Press Relations:
David Charamel, Communication Department, INRA (+ 33 5 61 28 52 32 / + 33 6 31 71 19 07), Anne-Catherine Bonjour, Press Relations (+ 33 1 53 67 36 93)