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Unibio digital partnership to optimize its fermentation process

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Unibio, which has developed a method for producing protein through a fermentation process with methane as feedstock, and NNE, a Danish leading consulting engineering company within the pharma and biotech industries, entered into a strong digital partnership that will benefit both Danish companies and the entire biotech industry. According to the agreement, NNE can test and develop new smart solutions in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and advanced data analysis in Unibio’s semi-industrial test facilities in Kalundborg. NNE will have the opportunity to test completely new methods, technologies and tools before recommending them to their customers, which are biotech companies around the world. The agreement will also allow NNE to demo Unibio’s production and test facilities in Kalundborg for NNE customers, and it will give Unibio access to the newest methods, technologies and tools in the IIoT as well as permanent access to more data from its production process.

Simulations just around the corner

The new cooperation will enable Unibio to implement a modern historian, a system enabling the logging of production data very efficiently. This will enable Unibio to better monitor and analyze the processes executed in e.g. the U-Loop® fermentor, a special fermentation tank developed by Unibio to produce a bacterial protein with methane as the carbon source. The data logging makes it possible for Unibio to fine-tune production more easily and by testing new methods and procedures, the company can see the effect far quicker than before the equipment was integrated. The data logging can also be used to create a digital twin, a technology allowing the simulation of thousands of processes tests each day. This will enable Unibio to optimize and reduce time consumption in the production process and will make the development of new products easier and quicker.

“We are very delighted about the agreement with NNE and we see great opportunities in the cooperation. We have reached a point in our process optimization where we need more and better data, and NNE can help us with this. Not only will we get more data, but we will also be able to benefit from NNE’s extensive knowledge in IIoT, predictive modeling and maintenance, machine learning, artificial intelligence and new tools such as augmented reality. At the same time, we have become closely related to some of the brightest and best brains within digitalization of biotechnological processes, and we expect that to be very valuable to us,” said Unibio CEO, Henrik Busch-Larsen.

New technologies tested before recommended to customers

Testing new technology and new solutions in pharmaceutical production is often difficult as everything must be validated before it can be coupled to the customer’s production equipment. The new partnership allows NNE to set up, test and demonstrate new solutions in a real-life manufacturing environment.

“We greatly appreciate the partnership with Unibio. We get the opportunity to see new technologies in operation at Unibio’s production facilities before we recommend them to our customers. Through dialogue with Unibio we also have the chance to get feedback on how the technology works, as well as on any challenges that we need to meet before we advise our customers on the implementation of similar solutions. It is definitely a very valuable partnership for both NNE and Unibio, and it will prove a huge advantage to our customers,” stated Frederik Klinge, director for Manufacturing Intelligence at NNE.

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