The idea behind the Toulouse White Biotechnology demonstrator was born in 2010, initiated by Pierre Monsan (Professor at INSA Toulouse and MINES ParisTech) and as a result of support from local, academic and industrial players. All were driven by the desire to create a centre of industrial biotechnology (called white biotechnology) excellence of national and international renown.
Winner of the Programme d’Investissements d’Avenir call for proposals in the field of health and biotechnology pre-industrial demonstrators in March 2011, the TWB project has received a first funding from the French National Research Agency (ANR-10-DPBS-02-01) to the tune of €20 million for 10 years. Following the favourable evaluation of this first period, an additional funding of €7m was allocated for the operation of TWB over the 2020 – 2025 period.
Initiated in October 2011, TWB* attracted some thirty members from the outset, who subsequently grouped together to form a spearhead public-private consortium, with objectives to accelerate development in industrial biotechnology and promote the bioeconomy. On 1 January 2022, forty-nine members make up the consortium of TWB.
Installed in September 2012 in its facilities in Toulouse (800m2), TWB moved in June 2015 (1700m2) then in November 2020 to support its growth and double its surface a second time (3500m2).
* TWB is a registered mark (TWB®).
The TWB is a Joint Service Unit. It is an administrative body supported by INRAE that was created following the signing of an association agreement between INRAE, INSA and CNRS (INRA Joint Service Unit 1337, CNRS Research support Unit 3582)
TWB is a 3BCAR Carnot Institute certified unity.
Challenges and markets
TWB operates in a context where climate, food and energy challenges are increasingly important. Biobased products and biological catalysts are possible answers to the challenges of the 21st century, not only at the industrial level but also at socio-economic and environmental levels. In this context, TWB provides a concrete response to industrials, biotechnology entrepreneurs and researchers, combining best human resources and state of the art technologies to develop new biological production chains, alternative to conventional ones.
TWB activities foster the creation and design of biological tools (enzymes, microorganisms, microbial consortia) for use in innovative and profitable industrial processes. The markets TWB focuses on include chemicals (commodities, pharmaceutical products, flavours,…), materials, the food industry and energy.
TWB is a demonstrator forging links between basic research and industry. On one hand, it offers collaborative public / private R&D projects and services. On other hand, it supports start-ups in order to accelerate their launch and development.
The projects are based on a continuum of expertise for innovation: from research and proof of concept to pre-industrial development and industrial technology transfer including business creation. TWB plays its role of innovation transfer accelerator.
TWB is aware of the ethical, societal and environmental impact of the biotechnology and integrates in its projects a guidance on these subjects.
TWB covers a wide range of skills, from biological engineering (synthetic biology, enzymatic and metabolic engineering) to the development of processes at the pre-industrial pilot scale. It is based on three complementary levels of expertise, from laboratory to pre-industrial pilot:
- public research laboratories as the Toulouse Biotechnology Institute (TBI) – Bio & Chemincal Engineering at the University of Toulouse and other national units of INRAE and CNRS
- the technical support platforms of TWB
- the Centre de Ressources Techniques (CRT) CRITT Bio-Industries Midi-Pyrénées (Toulouse).
In 2019, TWB obtained the INRAE Collective Scientific Infrastructure label. With TBI’s ICEO platform (Engineering and Screening of Original Enzymes), TWB is also included in the national roadmap for Research Infrastructures (Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation) under the name IBISBA-FR.
Activities* of TWB are certified ISO 9001:2015 (LRQA). The quality management system guarantees that TWB expectations will be fully taken into account and ensures the traceability of results. Moreover, TWB resolutely works toward the continuous improvement of its procedures, in accordance with its quality policy letter.
*Set-up, management and hosting of public/private collaborative projects and services in the field of industrial biotechnology. Automated strains and fermentation processes engineering with bioinformatic and analytic support.