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BASF invests in biotechnology start-up Bota Bio

| By Gerald Ondrey

BASF Venture Capital (BVC; Ludwigshafen, Germany) has invested in Bota Biosciences, Ltd. (Bota Bio; Hangzhou, China), an industrial synthetic biotech company that was founded in 2019. Bota Bio is developing a proprietary next-generation biotechnology platform which enables sustainable and economical production of high value products for a broad array of industrial applications. Examples are sweeteners, vitamins, personal care or crop protection products.

Industrial biotechnology or “white biotechnology”, uses living cells and enzymes to develop and manufacture products efficiently. Also, it can upgrade cells, enzymes and processes easily and therefore has the flexibility to adjust its capacity and volume to meet the market demands. Moreover, it expands market opportunities for products not accessible using conventional manufacturing processes. Computation is the core and foundation of Bota Bio’s next-generation bio-foundry to build and evolve enzyme, strain and process pipelines. It quickly identifies and characterizes suitable microbial hosts, shuffles and combines desired phenotypes to create new industrial strains, and furthermore develops and improves manufacturing processes starting from green raw materials, such as sugar.

Bota Bio’s interdisciplinary team — including biologists, chemists, engineers and industry veterans — has a strong track record in successful development and commercialization of products and plans to continue bringing valuable and innovative products to the market. Bota Bio’s innovative fermentation process is scalable making commercial production possible.

BASF itself uses fermentation and biocatalysis to manufacture products such as vitamins and enzymes and is working on processes that use white biotechnology for the production of chemical building blocks from renewable raw materials such as sugar and plant oils. The two strong partners are looking forward to explore possible synergies. “The founding members of Bota Bio have a wealth of experience in the fields of biotechnology and chemistry as well as in starting companies,” says Markus Solibieda, BVC’s managing director. He added: “Bota Bio’s highly innovative platform enables the acceleration of product development and contributes to sustainable and economical production. It has the potential to shape progress for the future of the chemical industry. With our investment in this promising young company, we are strengthening BASF’s activities related to sustainability and enhancing the group’s potential for innovation in the dynamic Asian markets.”

Bota Bio will use this investment to expand its development and production capabilities. “In BASF, we have a strong industry partner by our side whose strengths optimally complement our own. We welcome this support in scaling up our processes and launching new products,” says Cheryl Cui, CEO of Bota Bio.