NSTDA celebrated the opening of BIOTEC Bioprocessing Facility on 8 March 2023 at Thailand Science Park. BIOTEC Bioprocessing Facility, or BBF, is a key infrastructure for microbial utilization research. It is a pilot-scale production infrastructure to assess the feasibility of the technology, ensuring smooth transition from lab-scale to industrial scale. The facility is designed to comply with international standards, including Codex Good Hygiene Practices (GHPs) and the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP), and thereby enabling BBF to perform joint research with and provide services to its industry partners. Overall, BBF will accelerate the commercialization of microbial research and drive the growth of the Bio-Circular-Green Economy (BCG).

NSTDA President Prof. Dr. Sukit Limpijumnong stated that to deliver its promise as a national research powerhouse, his agency recently introduced “NSTDA Core Business” - a new strategy that brings together skills and expertise from various departments within NSTDA to drive technology exploitation process, enabling research to make socio-economic impacts. The first phase of NSTDA Core Business focuses on four innovations, one of which is a one-stop-service center for functional ingredient FoodSERP to serve the clientele in functional food and cosmeceutical industries.

Located in the biodiversity hotspot, Thailand is home to a diverse range of plants, animals and microorganisms. It has been estimated that Thailand has around 150,000-200,000 microbial species, accounting for 8-10% of microorganisms in the world. Despite this advantage, there exists a wide gap between research and innovation, especially the shortage in infrastructure, availability of technology and innovation, and scale-up experts that has prevented the country from fully capitalizing on the potential of microorganisms.

“This pilot plant facility is a catalyst to commercial application of microorganisms, providing support to functional food and cosmeceutical industries in term of high-quality manufacturing that meets international requirements at reasonable costs. It is NSTDA’s intention to close the innovation gap. BBF research team has experience working with over 30 local and international companies,” added Prof. Sukit.

BIOTEC Executive Director Wonnop Visessanguan remarked that BBF is a government organization that pioneers microbial production – both genetically modified (GM) and non-GM microorganisms – in a food-grade manufacturing facility designed in compliance with the Codex GHPs and HACCP. The facility is fully equipped to support processes from upstream to downstream, including media formulation, fermentation, separation, purification, drying, product formulation, product evaluation, product quality auditing and product registration. BBF mission is also extended to providing consultancy and training to industry clients and developing a network of partners at the national and international levels with an aim to create economic impacts, improve the competitiveness of Thai industry, reduce reliance on foreign technology, and drive the sustainability agenda under the BCG model.

Dr. Kobkul Laoteng, Director of BIOTEC Functional Ingredients and Food Innovation Research Group and BBF CEO added that BBF is situated in BIOTEC Pilot Plant Building on Thailand Science Park premises. The work is performed by a multidisciplinary research team that combines expertise in fundamental microbiology, bioprocess engineering and synthetic biology to design pilot-scale production technologies for beneficial microorganisms, biocontrol agents and functional ingredients. The facility is equipped with a 300L submerged fermentor, a 500kg solid state fermentor, various downstream processes, and a testing lab to support product registration. BBF recently obtained funding from the Program Management Unit for Competitiveness, or PMUC, to expand its annual production capacity to 33,000L.

“In addition to research and innovation, BBF also provides production services of food additives, nutrients, microbial proteins, and probiotics to industry clients for product registration, market testing and clinical studies, as well as engaging in technology transfer to promote commercialization. Co-creation is a key strategy that BBF employs to work with its industry partners to deliver the best solutions to all sizes of clients, ranging from startups to SMEs and large enterprises,” said Dr. Kobkul.

BBF has already made some headway in supporting innovative solutions to its industry clients which include Winona Feminine (probiotic food supplement and postbiotic feminine wash), Thai Roong Ruang Sugar Group (mycoprotein), Hatakabb Sim Tien Hor (anti-cough pill and anti-cough mouth spray), BIOM (enzyme-based fruit and vegetable wash), and Siam Agri Supply (probiotic food supplement). The outcome of its work will help boost the economy growth and strengthen domestic innovation capability.