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Research project

Enzyme development for Norwegian biomass – mining Norwegian biodiversity for seizing opportunities in the bio-based economy (NorZymeD)

NorZymeD focused on developing enzymes and processes for biomasses and value chains where Norway has clear competitive competitive advantages.

illustrasjon av biomasse
Photo:
NMBU

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These advantages are lignocellulosics and marine co-products from fisheries and aquaculture. SVT led the ELSA part of the project.

Project overview:

Enzyme development for Norwegian biomass – mining Norwegian biodiversity for seizing opportunities in the bio-based economy

NorZymeD is one of five projects financed by the BIOTEK2021 programme of the Research Council of Norway (NFR). Total budget of the project is about NOK 55 mill, og which the NFR finances about NOK 40 mill.The basis for a national bio-economy lies in the development of a biorefining industry enabled by enzyme tools that are tailored for Norwegian biomass and business opportunities. This project focuses on developing enzymes and processes for biomasses and value chains where Norway has clear competitive advantages, namely lignocellulosics and marine co-products from fisheries and aquaculture. Starting at unique biodiversities of the arctic, hot vents and gut microbiomes, the project will build generic competence by establi shing a national "enzyme development pipeline" .

Through national complementarity and distribution of tasks, we will combine expertise on thermophilic enzymes in Bergen and cold-adapted enzymes in Tromsø, with expertise in enzyme engineering and applied enzymology in Ås, fermentation and screening facilities at SINTEF, and structural characterization in Tromsø. We will develop generic technology competence in four work packages, focusing on metagenomie sampling (WP 1) screening and characterization of candidate enzymes (WP2,WP3), enzyme engineering (WP4) and larger-scale production for industrial trials (WP2). One innovative aim is to combine the best of cold- and heat-adapted enzymes using bioinformatics, protein engineering and gene shuffling-based directed evolution. The project workflow will follow the value creation chain all the way to industrial trials. This is underscored by the involvement of two Norwegian companies with a strong R&D focus, which has made them leaders in lignocellulosic (WPS) and marine co-product biorefining (WP6). By linking enzyme development in two different value chains (blue and green), the project will unleash considerable synergies. Ethical, legal and societal aspects (ELSA) will be pursued in a dedicated work package (WP8). Expanding the interest to explore biocatalytic opportunities will be an important task for the management group (WP7,WP9), which will interact strongly with the Industrial Biotech Network Norway.

The ELSA of NorZymeD

Ethical, legal and societal aspects

Key legal questions (ownership, patenting) as well as topics such as the common good/open source debate, biopiracy-biocolonialisation debates, and questions about global equity will be adressed in NorZymeD.

ELSA shall interact closely with the rest of the project. Legal and ethical questions will be identified in close collaboration with all participants and then subject to legal and ethical research. Capacity building (through dedicated workshops and communications) will be an important part of the ELSA in NorZymrD.