Isobionics celebrates ten years at Brightlands Chemelot Campusoctober 3, 2017
Exactly ten years ago in October, Toine Janssen set up Isobionics, one of the first companies in the former DSM labs on the Brightlands Chemelot Campus. Now, Isobionics is the largest global producer of Valencene, a natural orange flavoring produced using fermentation. Over the coming years, the company will be dramatically expanding its range of flavorings and aromatics.
Although it was DSM that devised and patented the technique for fermenting natural flavorings, it sold the rights to Toine Janssen in 2007. Toine rented a small lab on the Chemelot Campus, where he spent three years perfecting Valencene.
“It was not a simple process,” reflects Toine. “It was the first time that anyone had tried it in practice. It sounds simple: you mix sugar, water, a microorganism and a few cells from an orange plant in a reactor, and eventually a liquid comes out. However, just like with beer, which is also produced by fermentation, there are thousands of possible flavors. We experimented for a long time before we were able to create the perfect flavor, and a consistent quality.”
Since then, Geleen’s very own Valencene has conquered the world. Soft drinks brewers, medicine producers and numerous other companies that want to add orange flavoring to their products place orders with Isobionics. Toine Janssen: “Our clients span the globe. With one liter of Valencene you can make 500,000 cans of Fanta. Making such soft drinks would usually require the concentrate of several hundred kilos of real oranges. Our Valencene flavoring always has the same flavor and is always in supply, whatever the season.”
Apart from Valencene, Isobionics now also produces the flavors Nootkatone (grapefruit) and Beta Bisabolene (lime). The product range will soon be expanding to include the aromatics Sandalwood and Patchouli. “Using fermentation, you can perfect the manufacture of thousands of aromatics and flavors, in a natural and sustainable way. It is our ambition to bring at least a hundred products onto the market in the coming years.”
Isobionics has grown on the campus into a company which employs 20 biochemical specialists from all over the world. A new, larger laboratory was added two years ago and next year they will once again be moving to an even larger site. “Our R&D department and sales will continue to grow here in Geleen, since this is where we have all of the facilities we need and can share knowledge with other companies and knowledge institutions. The Brightlands Chemelot Campus also attracts international talent and researchers. This is really important for us, since each fermentation process is specific.”
The production takes place at six different locations in Europe and Asia. Isobionics expects to rapidly scale this up in the next few years. ”We are actually just getting started. We have now mastered the technique and we do not see any serious global competitors in the flavorings market. I estimate that we will eventually develop and produce thousands of different aromatics and flavorings. There are still so many undeveloped market segments, so we have plenty of opportunities.”
Bert Kip, director of Brightlands Chemelot Campus, reveals that he is particularly proud of Isobionics. “It was one of the pioneers here on the campus. Toine Janssen dared to take the step and has made his business into a success. Isobionics is living proof that the winning formula of the campus is working. This is a place where business, education and government come together.”