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Tate & Lyle strengthens position in fermentation sector

By Anthony Fletcher , 04-Oct-2006

Tate & Lyle's membership of a forum on industrial fermentation comes after the ingredients giant formed a partnership to speed up the commercialisation of fermented products.

Both moves underline the UK-based group's strategy of moving towards value-added ingredient development and building on a strong platform in fermentation.

"In the last decade, Tate & Lyle has established fermentation as a core technological competency," said chief executive Iain Ferguson.

"This has proved a catalyst for new product development."

Yesterday, the UK-based group announced it had joined the Industrial Platform of the Kluyver Centre for Genomics of Industrial Fermentation.

The platform is a forum of companies involved in the field of industrial fermentation working with the public-private partnership Kluyver Centre.

"We look to the Kluyver Centre and Pronks laboratory to continue to provide leading research in microbial physiology," said Stanley Bower, director of biochemical research and development at Tate & Lyle.

"This access will inform the development of our yeast platform. It will promote the development of new ingredients and help generate efficiencies in our fermentation businesses."

Joining the industrial platform builds on a long history of collaboration between Tate & Lyle and fellow member the Delft University of Technology.

Over the last eight years, Tate & Lyle has financially supported several PhD research projects in a yeast research group headed by professor Jack Pronk, professor of technology at the Delft University and scientific director of the Kluyver Centre.

Tate & Lyle hopes to benefit not only from confidential access to results from the Kluyver Centre's pre-commercialisation research activities, but also from access an extended network of world-class biochemists.

Last week, Tate & Lyle announced that it had formed a partnership to speed up the commercialisation of fermented ingredients. The partnership with Microbia Precision Engineering has been formed in order to develop fermentation-derived renewable ingredients.

As part of the agreement, Tate & Lyle will invest $7 million to acquire a minority shareholding in Microbia Precision Engineering and take one seat on the board. In addition, Tate & Lyle will invest a further $13.75 million in research and development over a period of five years.

The two companies will work exclusively together within defined renewable ingredient markets and will share the profits from products commercialised through their collaboration.

Tate & Lyle currently operates 17 fermentation plants on four continents, and its portfolio includes biogums such as xanthan gum, Aquasta (a natural source of astaxanthin produced in a joint venture with Igene Biotechnology) and citric acid.

The Kluyver Centre is a consortium of the universities of Delft, Wageningen, Leiden, Nijmegen and Utrecht, and the institutes TNO, Wageningen Centre for Food Sciences, Agrotechnology & Food Sciences Group and NIZO Food Research. It operates under the auspices of the Netherlands Genomics Initiative.

Other companies represented in the Kluyver Centre's industrial platform include: Akzo Nobel Diosynth, Applikon, Bird Engineering, Campina, DSM, Friesland Foods, Heineken, PURAC and Royal Nedalco. The Kluyver Centre seeks to further expand its industrial platform with companies active in the field of industrial fermentation.

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