New Zealand based Photonz Corporation is lookig forward to entering a new phase of being a commercial-ready producer of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) from fermented algae. Photonz chief executive Dr Greg Collier spoke as part of an AusBiotech 2012 panel focused on the challenges facing the biotech sector, where he highlighted Photonz’s innovative and de-risked business model and the company’s recent progress.
Photonz is entering a new phase of talks with potential partners and collaborators, he told attendees of the conference in Melbourne, as the process of up-scaling to commercial production is almost complete.
“In the last three months, and for the first time, we have successfully produced significant quantities of high-purity EPA in a process suited to commercial production,” Dr Collier said at the conference.
“We’re now up-scaling this process and expecting, in Q1 of next year, to be at commercial manufacturing level.
“Our expectation is that Photonz will be the first algae producer able to manufacture this high-purity EPA product for supply into an already established market.”
Dr Collier said initial fermentation of the marine microalgae biomass would occur at a UK-based facility, with further downstream processing needed to arrive at high-purity EPA products to be undertaken at sites in Europe. Developed by Photonz in New Zealand, the manufacturing process is also based on the results of a pilot project undertaken in Canada in 2011.
The process has been shown the ability to produce EPA within a range of predetermined purities, from 20% – 25% EPA in a basic form and up to highly-pure 97% EPA suited to pharmaceutical applications.
Talks were now underway with a view to securing access to key markets and supply contracts for EPA products at varying purity levels, Dr Collier said. It is an exciting time for Photonz which is “reaching the point of monetising this opportunity”.
“We are engaging in discussions with numerous potential partners for the different products in the range,” Dr Collier said.
Producing EPA via algae fermentation offers significant advantages in terms of scalability, quality, and the regularity of supply, and also environmental sustainability as it is most commonly derived from fish oil.