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Record year for industrial biotechnology grants and investments

In 2021, the Novo Nordisk Foundation and Novo Holdings increased their focus on researchers and companies working with ideas and products that advance the green transition through biotechnology. Grants and investments in industrial biotechnology amounted to a total of more than €215 million in 2021. Photo: 21st.BIO.

Biotechnology – and in particular industrial biotechnology – will be one of the most crucial catalysts for the green transition, now and in the future. In order to succeed, however, it will be necessary to support the entire biotechnological ecosystem, from funding early-stage research projects to raising capital for bringing new solutions to market.

“Industrial biotech has become an important focus area for both the Novo Nordisk Foundation and our investment company, Novo Holdings. Our joint ambition is to remove the barriers for developing new biological inventions and enable them to become future solutions to environmental and climate challenges,” says Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen, CEO, Novo Nordisk Foundation.

“In addition to awarding grants, we will consider how we can help researchers overcome the problems they encounter in the regulatory system for biological solutions. Unfortunately, a major barrier in launching new sustainable solutions is that regulatory impasses delay the process from the laboratory to the wider market,” he adds.

2021 has been a record year for industrial biotechnology for both the Foundation and Novo Holdings, with research grants and investments in established companies scaling new heights.

The Foundation awarded grants totalling €125 million to industrial biotech projects – with themes such as new food proteins and CO2 utilisation at the forefront. The largest grant in this field was €84 million for establishing the Novo Nordisk Foundation CO2 Research Center – the world’s first interdisciplinary research centre to develop knowledge and technology for capturing, storing and recycling CO2 for the production of chemicals and fuels.

Full steam ahead for industrial biotechnology in 2022
In 2021, Novo Holdings added several new companies that provide bioindustrial solutions and products to its portfolio. One such investment was in 21st.BIO, a new Danish biotech company that aims to help other biotech companies in scaling up production through an advanced technology platform developed by Novozymes. Novo Holdings invested €86 million in 21st.BIO.

In addition to Novozymes and Chr. Hansen, the major industrial biotech companies in Novo Holdings’ portfolio, the overall portfolio comprises 15 companies involved in industrial biotechnology. This diverse field includes companies supplying climate-neutral cement, biopesticides, synthetic silk biopolymers and many other products and solutions that challenge conventions. Novo Holdings added eight bioindustrial companies to its portfolio in 2021 and invested approx. €98 million in total in the bioindustrial space.

According to Kasim Kutay, CEO of Novo Holdings, the Novo Holdings team will continue to actively look for investments in industrial biotechnology:

“As an investment company, we wish to help accelerate the green transition, and we can do this specifically by supporting innovative biotechnology companies that can provide the solutions. However, in addition to being trailblazers for the green transition, we consider these companies good investments and expect that they will generate solid returns. In 2022, our investment teams will therefore continue looking for exciting companies to which we can contribute both capital and competencies that will enable them to grow,” Kasim Kutay says.

Further information

Marie-Louise Jersin, Senior Communications Partner, +45 3049 4957, [email protected]