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NatLifE 2020 Strategic Alliance Given Go-Ahead After Successful Interim Review

The NatLifE 2020 strategic alliance was the first research alliance funded under the German Ministry of Education and Research’s (BMBF) “Innovation Initiative for Industrial Biotechnology” programme, starting on February 01, 2013. In the end of the year 2015, following nearly three years of successful research and development, the alliance had to undergo an interim review by a panel of scientific experts set up by the BMBF. A total of 14 alliance representatives as well as the alliance-coordinator BRAIN AG successfully took the questions from the panel. The group provided insights into the past three years of joint research efforts while at the same time also answering the experts’ questions on the plans for the Phase 2 of the NatLifE 2020 programme. The expert panel recommended to enter into Phase 2 of the strategic alliance NatLifE 2020. As scheduled, Phase 2 will start on March 01, 2016 and ends on February 28, 2019. The content of Phase 3, also planned for three years, will be presented to the expert panel by the end of 2018.

Understanding biological systems and harnessing the full potential of biotechnology, the NatLifE 2020 alliance partners aim at developing a new generation of sustainably produced and biologically active components, which may be used as active ingredients by the cosmetics and food industries to enhance their formulations, which in turn will notably improve the nutrition, health, well being and lives of people. Over the past three years, the researchers focussed on the identification of bioactive ingredients. During the upcoming NatLifE stages, the development and pilot phases, they will now fine-tune the molecules identified so far with the full value chain in mind.

The first NatLifE 2020 phase saw the publication of eight scientific papers, numerous lectures at symposia (25) as well as some initial patent applications (six plus three in the pipeline), which all highlight the extraordinary quality of what has been achieved so far in both the scientific and economic arenas. First positive taste and application experiments involving some of the identified bioactive substances round off the successful endeavours undertaken by the alliance partners. The results delivered so far and the projects planned for Phase 2 were likewise appreciated by the expert panel. Hence, the alliance will continue to receive governmental funding. Phase 2 will focus on the development of the bioactive natural substances from Phase 1.

“Phase 1 results have exceeded our expectations as coordinator in many respects. After such a short period of research it is really impressive to see how very promising some first bioactive substances perform in application tests,” says Dr. Michael Krohn, Unit Head BioActives & Performance Proteins at BRAIN AG. “Information is shared readily within the alliance, which has turned out to be a powerful catalyst for research, allowing all players to leverage pre-competitive synergies.”

“For the upcoming second phase of the NatLifE 2020 programme, which involves a shift in emphasis to development activities, the 22 members of the alliance, among them - next to BRAIN as coordinators - AB Enzymes and AnalytiCon Discovery, now include a larger number of industrial partners,” explains Dr. Dirk Sombroek, coordinator of the alliance’s efforts and platform coordinator at BRAIN AG. “For the development phase, which is scheduled to begin on March 01, 2016, we welcome Henkel AG & Co. KGaA as well as Phyton Biotech GmbH as our new partners. We expect them to help the alliance exploit as of yet untapped potential for synergies, in particular as regards market approval and marketing of the identified natural substances. As a new technology partner, the Lübeck-based Fraunhofer Research Institution for Marine Biotechnology further strengthens the NatLifE 2020 team.”

Group picture showing the delegates representing the NatLifE 2020 strategic alliance at the interim review in Berlin on November 18, 2015.
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