CORDIS - EU research results



Introduction BIOTRAINS was a Marie-Curie Initial Training Network (MC-ITN) funded by the European Union Framework 7 Programme. BIOTRAINS was led by Professor Nick Turner at the CoEBio3 in the MIB at The University of Manchester developing a trans-European network of industrially oriented white biotechnologists fully trained in the supra-disciplinary skills needed for the application of biocatalysis to sustainable chemical manufacturing.
The other partners in the project were: The University of York (United Kingdom) led by Dr Gideon Grogan; University of Graz (Austria) led by Professor Wolfgang Kroutil; Denmark Technical University (Denmark) led by Professor John Woodley; Jülich Centre for Microbial Biotechnology (Germany) led by Professor Martina Pohl; University of Delft (Netherlands) led by Dr Frank Hollmann; CLEA Technologies BV (Netherlands) led by Professor Roger Sheldon; Technical University of Dortmund (Germany) led by Professor Andreas Schmid; University of Lund (Sweden) led by Professors Bo Mattiasson and Rajni Hatti-Kaul; University of Basel (Switzerland) led by Professor Thomas Ward; The University of Oviedo (Spain) led by Professor Vicente Gotor.
These were supported by a group of industrial companies that acted as advisors, mentors and presenters of industrial biotechnology (IB) to the fellows. They also offered industrial site visits and training as well as industrial placements.
Summary of Description of the Project Objectives The overall strategic objectives of BIOTRAINS were to strengthen the scientific and technological base of European industry and to encourage the international competitiveness of the European KBBE (knowledge based bio-economy) whilst promoting research that supports EU policies. The main overarching objective of BIOTRAINS was to deliver a trans-European network of industrially oriented industrial biotechnologists fully trained in the application of biocatalysis to sustainable chemical manufacturing. This gave rise to objectives for research fellow development, supra-disciplinary science, networking and industrial engagement. To achieve this a group of research fellows were appointed to research in key areas of IB based on novel and improved biocatalysts for chemical processes. The biocatalysis targeted were the enzymes for reduction, oxidation, carbon-carbon bond forming lyase mainly for chiral synthesis. These had been identified by SUSCHEM as the targets needed by the KBBE. This would then be followed by efforts to optimize the practical use of some of these biocatalysts in organic synthesis.
The research scientists’ capabilities would be developed through collaborative leading edge research projects. This would be implemented within the motivated atmosphere at leading Centres of Excellence (CoEs) in IB to develop high levels of IB comprehension and skills.
A high level of industrial relevance was a further main objective to be achieved through a group of industrial affiliated partners offering industrial placements, industrial training days, and industrial mentoring of the fellows. This would also create a dynamic industrial network for the fellows that would remain in place after the end of the project.
Work performed in the Project The component research projects that were pursued by the partners and research fellows were related to developing enzyme technology that was of potential value in developing economically viable routes for green chemical manufacture. BIOTRAINS is making a major contribution to efforts to replace traditional chemical manufacturing – reliant on highly toxic chemicals and solvents with industrial biotechnology which employs the power of natural biocatalysts and modern manufacturing techniques to deliver safer and less environmentally damaging industrial methods.
The main enzymatic work implemented has been biocatalytic alkene cleavage as an alternative to chemical ozonolysis (patented), alcohol dehydrogenase enzymes for chiral reduction, lyase chemistry. hydrolases for C-C bond formation, artificial enzyme activity based on transition metals with anchoring the metal in a protein scaffold, the development of high- throughput assays for amine oxidase enzymes, use of oxidation based on styrene oxidases, chloroperoxidase and P450 methods. Complementary to these activities work on co-factor recycling, enzyme supports and the development of an understanding of the engineering aspects of industrial biotechnology.

Main Results
One highlight of the BIOTRAINS project is associated partners from industry giving exposure of the fellows to the industrial complementarities. There has been an industrial presence of full and associate partners at all meetings and have given inputs into the Training Board mechanism. Industrial placement training has already started and more are expected in later stages of the project.
Expected Final Results - Scientific Publication and Presentation One key indicator of success for BIOTRAINS was a high level of publication with collaboration and joint publications in refereed journals complemented by presentations at international conferences that would create a high profile for fellow networking and awareness of their results. This has been achieved.
Potential Impact and Use (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications) BIOTRAINS - Contributing to the European KBBE All these coordinated activities will lead to a stronger scientific and technological base of European IB industry and encourage international competitiveness by contributing to the knowledge based bio-economy whilst at the same time promoting research that supports EU policies.
Networking European level networking that has led to the transfer new skills and best practise between partners was achieved by the fellows exchanges and industrial engagement. These networks for the fellows and the institutes will extend beyond the lifetime of the project and offer enhanced opportunities for the fellows and improve performance on the international stage for the partners.
Website A public website has been implemented that has a confidential section where technical reports are submitted by the fellows on their scientific work and training records on a regular basis. Also all the relevant annexes that the fellows need access to under the MC-ITN regulations are made available in this section.
BIOTRAINS has organised five project meetings with internal project review meetings and conferences. The first was "Conference on Biocatalysis for Chemical Synthesis” in Graz which was well attended and introduced the fellows to each other and white biotechnology. "The principals of non-verbal communication and behavioural types" and "Self-marketing based on effective communication" combined with a site visit of the Novartis Campus was the subject of the second meeting. The third meeting was “Frontiers 2011” in Delft with an overview of the current industrial practice (using industrial experts) highlighting important future developments. A second day on reaction and solvent engineering issues presented key recent developments in supercritical fluid, ionic liquid, deep eutectic solvent and solvent-free technologies. At York and Copenhagen training sessions in Business Awareness Skills with presentations from SMEs and IP specialists and Bioengineering for Bioprocesses gave training in areas not normally addressed in IB chemistry and biotechnology training.
Finally dissemination at major conferences raised the profile of the project and the science as well as the contribution of the FP7 program and MC-ITNs.