ScaleUp Bio Partners With A*STAR For Joint Lab Focussed On Precision Fermentation

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2022 | 1201 Views

ADM And Temasek’s Asia Sustainable Foods Platform Inaugurate ScaleUp Bio’s Joint Venture With A*STAR

The joint lab and new facility will provide technological development and precision fermentation for companies producing a wide variety of biobased products, including alternative proteins, to serve growing consumer demand in Singapore and the wider Asia-Pacific region.


What Is Precision Fermentation?

Fermentation has been used in food production since ancient times. It is a process of using microorganisms to produce alternative proteins. Ancient civilisations used microbial cultures to preserve foods, create alcoholic beverages, and improve the nutritional value and bioavailability of foods such as yoghurt and tempeh. (Bioavailability refers to the ability of a substance to be absorbed and used by the body.) Fermentation now has a much broader range of applications. 

According to Good Food Institute, there are three categories of fermentation:

  1. Traditional fermentation: The process of changing a food through microbial anaerobic digestion.
  2. Biomass fermentation: Uses the high-protein content and rapid growth of microorganisms to efficiently make large amounts of protein-rich food.
  3. Precision fermentation: Uses microorganisms to produce specific functional ingredients.

In precision fermentation, the microorganisms are programmed to be little production factories. This is how insulin for diabetic patients is produced, as well as rennet for cheese. Precision fermentation enables alternative protein producers to efficiently make specific proteins, enzymes, flavor molecules, vitamins, pigments, and fats. 


ADM, a global leader in nutrition and agricultural origination and processing, and Asia Sustainable Foods Platform, a company focused on accelerating the commercialisation of sustainable foods in Asia, today announced the official inauguration of their joint venture company, ScaleUp Bio. ScaleUp Bio is the first company in Singapore to provide contract development and manufacturing organisation services for precision fermentation for food applications.


ScaleUp Bio has entered into a multi-year partnership with A*STAR’s Singapore Institute of Food and Biotechnology Innovation (SIFBI) to establish a joint lab focussed on precision fermentation. Scheduled to be operational in Q1 2023, the joint lab will be situated within the Food Tech Innovation Centre (FTIC) at Biopolis. It will provide start-ups with fermenters that can support up to 100L in capacity, associated downstream processing units and relevant testing, as well as analytical equipment for full optimisation.


Upon maturity of their growth cycle, start-ups can seamlessly transition to ScaleUp Bio’s new facility, which can further support up to 10,000L fermentation capacity. Located in the Tuas district, the facility will be wholly owned and operated by ScaleUp Bio and is targeted to be operational by mid-2023.


The joint lab and new facility will provide technological development and precision fermentation for companies producing a wide variety of biobased products, including alternative proteins, to serve growing consumer demand in Singapore and the wider Asia-Pacific region.


Francisco M. Codoñer, Chief Executive Officer of ScaleUp Bio commented, “We are seeing strong demand for alternative protein sources and more companies are developing new alternative protein solutions to meet these needs. With our facilities and technical know-how, we are well-positioned to support and help these companies advance their fermentation innovations.”


“This first-of-its-kind joint venture is another demonstration of ADM’s unique leadership position in delivering the next horizon of innovative, sustainable food production. By bringing our global capabilities and industry-leading fermentation expertise to existing and aspiring food-tech companies, we’re proud to continue paving the way to a more sustainable food system to meet the world’s increasing demand for nutritious food products,” said Joe Taets, senior vice president and president, Asia Pacific at ADM and Chairman of ScaleUp Bio.


In November 2021, the Asia Sustainable Foods Platform and A*STAR’s SIFBI committed to invest over S$30 million over the next three years in FTIC. Through the FTIC, food-tech companies including start-ups will have access to tailored infrastructure and service offerings, namely a food grade pilot scale facility with extrusion and fermentation equipment, shared labs, test kitchens, co-working spaces, as well as A*STAR’s deep R&D know-how.


Mathys Boeren, CEO of the Asia Sustainable Foods Platform said, “The joint lab will provide precision fermentation support to start-ups and is the first of many offerings within the FTIC. As a one-stop shop, our goal is to help food start-ups address pain points for food-tech businesses, such as long wait-times for pilot-scale facilities and equipment; the lack of deep product and process development capabilities; and the difficulty in navigating regulatory processes and understanding unfamiliar markets in other parts of Asia.”


“Partnering with A*STAR’s SIFBI, companies including start-ups can gain access to leading R&D capabilities and expertise in precision fermentation and downstream processing, enabling them to shorten their innovation cycle and time to market. The collaboration with ScaleUp Bio is a great example of how public-private sector partnerships can contribute significantly to the flourishing and vibrant food-tech landscape here in Singapore. We look forward to collaborating with start-ups and MNCs in the alternative protein space to innovate sustainable food solutions that can also scale to market rapidly,” said Dr Hazel Khoo, Executive Director, SIFBI.



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