Fermentalg and the CEA: Partners in the bioproduction of lipids using microalgae

Research teams within the CEA Life Sciences Division and Fermentalg, a company specializing in the bioproduction of chemical molecules from microalgae, have signed a framework collaboration agreement extending over several years. This cooperative venture will enable the sharing of Research and Development results between the CEA teams and Fermentalg.

This new partnership covers the development of microalgae production in heterotrophic and mixotrophic media. This type of production offers far greater yields than those obtainable in autotrophic media and, in particular, maximizes the ability of the selected microalgae to synthesize molecules such as lipids by the conversion of a wide range of carbonaceous substrates.

One of the first French companies active in the bioproduction of chemical molecules from microalgae, Fermentalg currently enjoys a significant lead over other European companies. Current developments and the results obtained so far indicate that commercial production will be possible within a short timescale, with applications extending from animal feed and nutrition, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals through to speciality and commodity chemicals, and bioenergies.

Fermentalg is intending to speed up its development process even further with the aim of becoming the European leader in this sector, expanding its own in-house Research and Development activities and surrounding itself with the most advanced external know-how such as that developed in the laboratories of the CEA Life Sciences Division. Research currently being carried out by the CEA in this field is mainly concerned with the study of microalgae, cyanobacteria and some protists. Considerable research effort has been invested in analyzing the metabolism and genome of these micro-organisms, with specific emphasis on the production of lipids.

The CEA has chosen Fermentalg as its premier partner in this field. The agreement, negotiated by Christian Vincent, Exploitation and Industrial Partnerships Manager in the CEA Life Sciences Division, and Paul Michalet, Finance, Strategy and Business Development Director of Fermentalg, sets the terms of a collaboration extending over at least five years, together with the conditions for the exploitation of the results obtained.

The two partners are now in a position to share all their respective know-how with the common objective of marketing production processes as part of the industrial exploitation of the results by Fermentalg. Pierre Calleja, founder and CEO of Fermentalg, comments: ‘We are very pleased by the signing of this exclusive agreement which constitutes the culmination of our initial collaboration confirming the strong synergy between our individual skills and expertise, together with our ability and desire to create value together. Work has already begun on a number of projects, and our current collaborative research programs are rapidly approaching the industrial production stage. With this agreement, Fermentalg confirms once again its drive to become the undisputed European leader in this field. Other directions of scientific research have also been identified, and these will be soon lead to further joint developments under this agreement’.

Gilles Bloch, Director of the CEA Life Sciences Division adds: ‘Under this agreement, we have sought to concentrate our efforts on a partner who seems to us to be the most likely to emerge as a driving force in the establishment of a new European industry to compete with current developments in the USA and Asia. The vision of Fermentalg, the developed technology, and the speed of deployment by this company, together with the quality of its management and the unanimous support of its shareholders, have all been important factors in making our decision‘

Source: CEA, Fermentalg