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Manchester at the forefront of Green Chemical Technology

25 Aug 2011

The University of Manchester is leading a £6.5m European project to develop the next generation of green chemical processes.

Press photo: BASF
Press photo: BASF

BIONEXGEN (Developing the Next Generation of Biocatalysts for Industrial Chemical Synthesis) is an ambitious European research programme that will develop the next generation of biocatalysts to be used for eco-efficient manufacturing processes in the chemical industry.

This three-year European Union funded project is led by Professor Nick Turner, Director of the Centre of Excellence for Biocatalysis, Biotransformations and Biocatalytic Manufacture (CoEBio3) at The University of Manchester.

A collaboration by leading European industrial and academic partners has identified a new generation of biocatalysts that, once developed, could lead to economic and environmental improvements in the manufacture of everyday chemicals such as pharmaceuticals and polymers.

Biocatalysts are enzymes, or microbial cells containing enzymes, that can carry out chemical reactions. Routes to specialised, high-value products often require long chemical synthetic routes involving complex reaction steps with toxic side products and waste streams. This project will allow these methods to be replaced by clean biocatalysis routes using renewable resources.

This interdisciplinary project will bring together microbiologists, enzymologists, chemists, engineers and process development scientists to enable industry to use biotechnology to replace fossil fuel derived manufacturing methods.

The consortium consists of University research groups, small and medium sized companies, and BASF, the world’s leading chemical company.

Professor Nick Turner said: “I warmly welcome all the partners to the programme and look forward to collaborating with them in this exciting field of interdisciplinary science. The research was devised with the close involvement of industrial partners; this is a great strength of the programme and will ensure real-world application of the green chemical processes developed.”

Notes for editors

For media enquiries please contact:

Daniel Cochlin
Media Relations
The University of Manchester
Tel: 0161 275 8387

A summary of the project can be found at

The full list of partners is:

•    The University of Manchester, CoEBio3 (United Kingdom) led by Prof. Nick Turner and Prof. Sabine Flitsch.
•    The University of Stuttgart (Germany) led by Prof. Bernard Hauer.
•    Denmark Technical University (Denmark) led by Prof. John Woodley.
•    The Institute of Microbiology of the Czech Academy of Sciences (Czech Republic) led by Prof. Vladimir Kren.
•    The University of Groningen (Netherlands) led by Prof. Dick Janssen.
•    CLEA Technologies (Netherlands) led by Dr. Menno Sorgedrager.
•    EntreChem (Spain) led by Dr. Francisco Moris.
•    The University of Oviedo (Spain) led by Prof. Vicente Gotor.
•    GALAB Laboratories (Germany) led by Dr. Jürgen Kuballa.
•    Leibniz Institute for Plant Biochemistry (Germany) led by Prof. Ludger Wessjohann.
•    Austrian Centre for Industrial Biotechnology (Austria) led by Prof. Anton Glieder.
•    KTH Royal Institute of Technology (Sweden) led by Prof. Karl Hult.
•    LentiKats (Czech Republic) led by Dr. Radek Stloukal.
•    Slovak University of Technology (Slovakia) led by Dr. Martin Rebros.
•    BASF (Germany) led by Dr. Kai Baldenius.
•    University College London (United Kingdom) led by Prof. Gary Lye.
•    Chemical Innovation KTN (United Kingdom) led by Dr. Becky Farnell.

About CoEBio3: Based in the University of Manchester the CoEBio3 is the UK's leading Industrial Biotechnology research organisation, dedicated to providing a world-class scientific environment in which the necessary research and development can be carried out to create new biocatalyst-based processes to meet the changing needs of the chemical industry.
CoEBio3 trains graduate and post-doctoral scientists in the necessary combination of skills in chemistry, biology and engineering needed to support these changes. CoEBio3 supplies the research, training and development services to enable the application of white biotechnology to produce chemical entities with an applied "genes to kilos" philosophy. For more information see

BIONEXGEN builds on CoEBio3’s previous success in obtaining and managing large EU grants, including BIOTRAINS (€4.4M), AMBIOCAS (€2.5M), GlycoBioM (€5.2M) and EuroGlycoArrays (€4.5M).