What is industrial biotechnology?

What is industrial biotechnology?

Industrial biotechnology includes modern application of biotechnology for sustainable processing and production of chemical products, materials and fuels. Biotechnological processing uses enzymes and microorganisms to produce products that are useful to a broad range of industrial sectors, including chemical and pharmaceutical, human and animal nutrition, pulp and paper, textiles, energy, materials and polymers, using renewable raw materials.

Use of biotechnology to substitute existing processes makes many of these industries more efficient and environmentally friendly, contributing to industrial sustainability in various ways. This paradigm change involves various areas, ranging from the most known ones, such as pharmaceutical and agricultural, to production of materials such as biopolymers and also bioplastics.

Industrial biotechnology can produce the same results as the petrochemical industry, but using biological catalysts instead. Application of the state of the art of a vast range of scientific disciplines to industrial biotechnology, namely biochemistry, microbiology, genomics, proteomics, bioinformatics, systems biology and process engineering is the foundation for leveraging the rapid, specialized and competitive growth of the sector, based on biocatalysts that enable high productivity, performance and stability.

With the adoption of industrial processes based on biotechnology, metabolic engineering has become an increasingly important subject. The goal of metabolic engineering is to maximize the production of compounds that are of industrial interest in microorganisms that act within this context as cell factories through their genetic manipulation.

According to a recent OECD study (The Bioeconomy to 2030: designing a policy agenda, http://www.oecd.org/futures/bioeconomy/2030), the industrial applications of biotechnology in 2030 will be responsible for 39% of the economic value generated by Biotechnology, which illustrates the healthy investment in research and development expected in this area.