A spinoff company from CEB leads a 8 MEuros project to leverage EU synthetic biology

Silicolife, a spinoff company from CEB, will lead an 8 million euro project to leverage the competitiveness of synthetic biology in the European Union, creating biological pathways for more than 100 compounds

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SilicoLife will lead the Shikifactory100 consortium, supported by the Horizon program, which brings together 11 partners from 7 countries and wants to find new sustainable ways of producing ingredients that until now can only be obtained by extracting plants or by petrochemical processes, starting from microorganisms and combining biology with computational methods. 

The industry is increasingly replacing artificial ingredients with ingredients from biological sources, to increase consumer satisfaction and innovation in flavours and fragrances. On the other hand, many of the natural resources are limited and climate dependent, which drives up prices.

The project, which begins in January and lasts four years, focuses on shikimic acid, a central acid in metabolism, from which it is intended to reach more than one hundred compounds of high value and with applications as diverse as aromas, medicines and chemicals of industrial interest. It is also intended to obtain new biological pathways to produce artificial sweeteners, avoiding the current chemical processes. The project will develop and consolidate an integrated Synthetic Biology platform for engineering tailored strains, based on simplified and optimized genomes for the efficient, cost-effective bio-based production of chemicals around the shikimate hub. 

"The scale and integration of state-of-the-art technologies in Shikifactory100 are unprecedented in Europe and will contribute to EU leadership in the areas of synthetic biology and bioeconomy" says SilicoLife CEO Simão Soares. "The consortium will build a platform of microbial cell factories with customized strains and optimized genomes for efficient, economical and sustainable production, combining new computational methods with in vitro and in vivo developments," said Isabel Rocha, the Scientific and Technilcal Manager of this project.

In addition to SilicoLife, the University of Minho (Centre of Biological Engineering), Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Technical Univ of Denmark, Univ of Manchester (UK), the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (Switzerland), the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (Germany), NNFCC (UK) and DSM (Netherlands), c-LEcta (Germany) and GalChimia (Spain) participate in the project.

See press release from Silicolife

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