Translating research results into tangible products that benefit society is very important to the VIB-KU Leuven Center for Microbiology. Technology transfer can come in different forms, such as industrial partnerships, research cooperations, licensing agreements and the creation of start-up companies.
The center has built a solid reputation which has led to industry collaborations worth several tens of million euro. In some cases, the potential of the novel technology can be disruptive and warrants the creation of a new start-up company. Spin-offs also create added value for society in the form of jobs and new products.
The VIB-KU Leuven Center for Microbiology has been at the basis of the creation of two start-up companies in the microbiology-based industry.
Research suggests that our gut flora can affect various aspects of our health. MRM Health, incorporated in 2020, is a biopharmaceutical company focused on discovering and developing innovative therapeutics based on the human microbiome. Backed by the expertise of Dr. Jeroen Raes (VIB – KU Leuven Center for Microbiology) and Dr. Dirk Elewaut (VIB – UGent Center for Inflammation Research), MRM Health will use its proprietary technology platform to develop Live Biotherapeutic Products (LBPs), a novel class of disease-mitigating therapeutics.
Go to website of MRM Health
Soils contain a diverse suite of micro-organisms which perform myriad important functions Some of these micro-organisms can influence crop growth and yield. This formed the basis of the VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology and the VIB-KU Leuven Center for Microbiology spin-off company Aphea.Bio. Founded in 2017, this company exploits natural micro-organisms to increase crop yields and to protect them against specific fungal diseases in a sustainable way. Related to this, the Van Dijck lab has implemented iChip technology to isolate non-culturable soil micro-organisms and is currently identifying novel antifungal molecules produced by these bacteria.
Go to website of Aphea.bio
For many years, Kevin Verstrepen’s group has close ties with some of the world’s largest (but also smallest!) brewers, based on a mutual interest in finding new yeast variants to unlock new beer flavors and aromas. The yeast and fermentation know-how of his lab has also resulted in the establishment of an experimental pilot brewery with the help of AB InBev and about 20 other industrial partners. The brewery bridges the gap between the lab environment and the industrial setting: it allows an in-depth study of fermentation and testing of how newly developed industrial yeasts behave. The expertise and yeast culture collection developed and explored in the experimental brewery provide the foundations for a whole new spectrum of beer flavors. This has led to collaborations between the pilot facility and many national and international breweries, as well as bioethanol and biotech companies.