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Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability

Biosustainability represents a major socioeconomic driver in the coming decades. Designing, constructing and optimizing cell factories are decisive challenges. The Center aims to be one of the world’s leading institutions in this field.




Plastic bags, toys, pharmaceuticals, food ingredients, and many other products are manufactured from chemical materials based on oil or extracted from plants. Nevertheless, this depletes natural resources and is not sustainable.

The Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability is the world’s first interdisciplinary research center within bio sustainability. The Center’s ambition is to develop new knowledge and technology in order to drive the production of chemicals from oil-based methods towards more sustainable and biobased methods. The aim is to produce chemicals using highly specialized cell cultures: cell factories. This transformation requires that the production of the biobased industrial chemicals can compete commercially.

Hence, the Center’s research focuses on designing and constructing cell factories for bio based production. The aim is to significantly reduce the costs of developing cell factories, thereby improving the competitiveness of biobased production.

At a more basic science level, the Center investigates which chemicals can be produced biologically. Furthermore, the Center’s researchers are investigating how to develop more robust cell factories for efficiently production of for instance pharmaceuticals.

The Center collaborates with the world’s leading researchers in this field and has entered into strategic alliances with universities in the United States, Sweden, South Korea and Denmark. The Center offers a unique international research environment with the research depth and breadth that is essential to achieve its goals.

The research Center gives high priority to innovation and therefore collaborates with biotechnology companies and the chemical industry to promote knowledge exchange and application of its results, ensuring that society benefits from its activities.


The biotech industry recruits many of the Center’s young scientists. Therefore, the Center emphasizes educating and developing talent within this field. One initiative is a new PhD school with focus on talent development, ensuring a constant flow of highly trained talents out into the sustainable industry.

Furthermore, the center works to develop skills within entrepreneurship in order to boost spin out activities and to create new jobs.

- Humanity needs to find ways of living more sustainably to slow the depletion of natural resources. Using cell factories is a fundamental aspect of this process. Denmark has a strong position in industrial biotechnology, and ultimately we want to strengthen this position in the biologically based society of the future, says Bernhard Palsson, Professor and CEO of the Center.

The Novo Nordisk Foundation has awarded a total of DKK 1.3 billion (€174 million) to the Technical University of Denmark to establish, operate, and expand the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability until at least 2020. The Center opened in 2011 and has 303 employees.


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Thursday, 15 September 2016

The Foundation has awarded a grant of DKK 90 million to the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) to develop faster and smarter tools for...

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