Transforming feedstock into valuable molecules using living organisms
Biotechnology is an enabler that uses living organisms such as bacteria, yeast, algae or microalgae to process raw materials or directly use their enzymes as biocatalysts. Biotechnology is not new, it’s been used for centuries, particularly for food and drink to make, for example, bread, cheese, and beer. It has also been used for decades to produce drugs for healthcare. However, while this is a mature technology in the food and health industries, it is still at the onset in our chemical world. At Solvay, we are exploring new ways of transforming raw materials using biotechnology in many areas of our portfolio such as renewable formulation ingredients in Agro & Feed and Beauty Care, synthesis of new aromas, and bioremediation solutions in materials, in an economic and sustainable way.
Accelerating towards a more sustainable portfolio of products
Solvay leverages Biotechnologies as an enabler to develop renewable carbon-based and safe chemistry to accelerate the transformation of our portfolio toward sustainable and circular solutions and to transition to a neutral carbon economy. Open Innovation is the cornerstone of our strategy either to develop tomorrow's processes and platforms (fermentation or cell-free) or directly new renewable molecules. In such partnerships, we bring our expertise and commitment to create a new win-win framework for both parties. We especially bring our knowledge of application requirements and our market access channels, as well as our expertise in downstream processing to scale-up biotech processes (separation, purification, etc.). We also add our Solvay One Planet ambition and our ability to analyze and monitor sustainability implementation and progress through Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). Our aim is to produce innovative sustainable molecules and substitute conventional molecules with new ones that are more eco-friendly, non-animal.
In April 2023, Solvay announced a strategic collaboration with Ginkgo Bioworks: through this multi-year strategic collaboration agreement, Solvay has joined forces with Ginkgo to unlock the power of synthetic biology as an enabler of more sustainable chemicals and materials, contributing to the transition towards more environmentally-friendly solutions. This alliance will start by focusing on new sustainable biopolymers, specialties that could tangibly impact a breadth of markets, from home and personal care to agriculture and food.
The potential to redesign value chains
Artificial intelligence, automation and the capacity to edit genetic sequences breakthrough, have led to a fundamental technology shift making biotechnology more flexible, affordable and predictable.
Solvay recognizes biotechnology as the chemistry of the 21st century with the ability to reimagine the whole value chain by typically entering through recycled materials or using waste, promoting a new circular value chain.
As part of this partnership, Solvay has also announced the decision to acquire a Ginkgo (formerly Zymergen) laboratory in Cambridge, Massachusetts. This acquisition will expand Solvay’s R&I footprint in the US, provide access to new talents, and establish a sustainable growth base in synthetic biology in one the most important biotech hubs in the world, accelerating the company’s biotech development plan.
Exploring our portfolio for new ways to produce
With the creation of the Renewable Materials & Biotechnology growth platform, Solvay is accelerating its exploration of new ways to produce in many areas of our portfolio: renewable formulation ingredients in agriculture and beauty care, synthesis of new aromas, bioremediation solutions in the materials area and sustainable solvent.