Bacteria to soap company up for award

A company which has developed a ground-breaking way of growing ‘soap’ from bacteria has been shortlisted for an award.

TeeGene Biotech, a Teesside University spin out venture, has developed strains of bacteria which produce biosurfactants, which act like soap and help to emulsify different liquids.

Unlike, traditional surfactants which are made using synthetic materials, biosurfactants can be manufactured in a laboratory and are fully biodegradable and have minimal impact upon the environment.

The biosurfactant market in Europe is already worth £511m and is expected to grow to £1.35bn by 2030.

TeeGene Biotech’s method of processing the biosurfactants allows the company to scale production to meet the demands of industrial sectors ranging from cosmetics to biopharmaceuticals. Other uses include oil recovery, reducing pollution and food processing.

TeeGene Biotech’s pioneering research has seen the company reach the finals of the Industrial Biotechnology Leadership Forum (IBLF) awards which are at the Industrial Biotechnology Showcase in London on February 11 and 12.

The event brings together leading figures from industry, academia and government agencies and will be opened by Minister for Life Sciences George Freeman.

Each of the finalists will take part in a five minute Dragons’ Den style pitch to judges.

Dr Pattanathu Rahman, founding director of TeeGene Biotech, is a senior lecturer in Process Engineering and Biotechnology at Teesside University with 20 years of research experience on novel biotechnological approach in bioproduct development, and a recipient of a Society for Applied Technology (SAB) Award of Excellence in Microbial Biotechnology. 

He said: "It’s a great honour to be invited to these awards, there will be leading figures from all over the UK from the biotechnology industry.

"As a relatively young company it’s fantastic that we’re already getting this recognition."

TeeGene Biotech was formed in December 2014 and is based in the Wilton Centre at Redcar.

The company is also developing links with the National Biologics Manufacturing Centre, which is under development adjacent to Teesside University’s campus in Darlington.

Dr Rahman added: "The levels of purity needed for biosurfactants in the industries in which they’re used is extremely high.

"Because of this, they can be very expensive. However, the methods we have of producing them, make it much more economical and cost efficient.

"It’s a very exciting technology with tremendous potential for applications in a range of industries."

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