23.08.2018Nadja Henke und Bicomer receive funding from ERDF „START-UP-Hochschul-Ausgründungen NRW“
Natural Astaxanthin is a red pigment with many health benefits. Its high market value stems from its use as a colorant in fish and poultry farming; Its anti-aging, UV-absorbing and antioxidant properties make it valuable for the cosmetics industry. The start-up company Bicomer was able to convince the jury of the sponsorship competition "START-UP-Hochschul-Ausgründungen NRW" with its business model. The basis of Bicomer is the biotechnological, fermentative production of astaxanthin with the help of the microorganism Corynebacterium glutamicum. Synthetic, petroleum-based manufacturing processes are currently dominating astaxanthin production with approximately 75% market share. "Bicomer focuses on the production of natural astaxanthin with the help of the microorganism Corynebacterium glutamicum, which has been established biotechnologically for decades and safely used in the food industry," says Nadja Henke, Ph.D. student at the Faculty of Biology and CeBiTec and future CEO of Bicomer. Volker Wendisch, who supports the start-up project as a mentor at the Department of Genetics of Prokaryotes, explains: "In comparison to the petrochemical-derived pigment, no toxic waste products are produced in our fermentation." Mrs. Henke adds: "Our product is natural astaxanthin. Unlike the petrochemical product, it has exactly the properties that make it so valuable in nature." With the support of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the actual spin-off and process development can be specified in the next 18 months. "Our manufacturing process is faster than all fermentative processes described so far, it can be transferred to the million ton scale and is independent of the climatic circumstances. This will enable a market-relevant production of natural astaxanthin to be realized in a timed manner, "says Mrs. Henke summing up the future perspective.