R&D and Biotechnology

Agricultural resources : outlets for the future

01 November 2011

 European experts in solid statefermentation, the Soufflet Groupis bolstering its Osiris R&D programme. The research teams have moved to dedicated premises. The aim is to create and develop new biotechnology products and processes designed to improve the use of agricultural resources and their industrial by-products. 

Osiris, the Soufflet Group’s inspiring industrial innovation programme to seek new outlets for agricultural resources, began in 2008. It is supported by Oseo, the French business development agency for an eight year period. This innovative programme shifted into top gear in 2010, with the establishment of the Soufflet Innovation Research Centre (C.R.I.S.) and the building of a 2,000m2 Technology Research Unit (H.T.R.) that will be operational in early 2012.1/ The C.R.I.S., occupying 1,400m2 on five floors of the former mill building at Nogent-sur-Seine, employs researchers and technicians who devote themselves to carefully selecting and making biocatalysts in quantities from a few grams to a kilo, using various types of fermenter. These biocatalysts are then tested in applications specific to the Osiris programme (nutrition of yeasts, bacteria, animal nutrition, human nutrition, natural emulsifiers).

2/ The H.T.R., essential pre-production pilot, will test larger quantities, from 300kg to 1 tonne. The last stage before industrial production, the technology unit will be bringing out packed products, from 25kg bags to one tonne big bags, that will be tested by future users, our industrial customers and partners. The first partnerships were agreed in 2009.

A Division dedicated to biotechnology

“We are building a collection of strains that already includes fungi (filamentous in particular) as well as bacteria (especially lactic). Our job is to derive biocatalysts obtained by solid state fermentation (SSF, see box), dedicated to industrial applications”, says Jérôme Souppe, who is in charge of all of the 110 people working in the new Biotechnology Division.

The Division includes 50 employees from Lyven, a subsidiary that he also runs which has produced food enzymes by SSF for more than twenty years.

Osiris is primarily an industrial project Lyven, a Soufflet Group subsidiary, uses SSF to create and make enzyme preparations for the fruit, drink, bakery, animal feed and biofuel sectors. Lyven is thus fully entitled to market products from the Osiris programme that will add to its range of existing products.

Thus, Lyven, the C.R.I.S. and H.T.R. stimulate each other through their technical and commercial advances.
Four sectors are of interest to Osiris:

– Health nutrition
– Bio plant protection
– Bioethanol
– Animal feed

World pioneer,the Protoferm 1 laboratory

The first laboratory specialising in SSF, set up at the Nogent mill in 2009, creates, develops
and improves SSF processes mainly based on cereal derivatives (bran) and biofuel by-products (expellers and spent grain). It is a world-class laboratory, that has impressive technical resources, and in particular prototype fermenters. Loic Levavasseur runs Protoferm 1. He joined Osiris in 2007
after starting with the Soufflet Group in 2003 to write a thesis on mixing dough as part of a research partnership with the CNAM*. Next working for Moulins Soufflet, he was the original developer
of the sitoxygraph, prototype mixer, a device to help formulating flour and improve mixing, a recent innovation in milling.

SSF, an unusual technology

Proven in Asia – and especially in Japan – on raw materials such as rice and soya, solid state fermentation has three major areas for potential development on cereals and their industrial by-products. SSF consists of converting a raw material (wheat for example) by the action of a carefully selected, non genetically modified micro-organism. The product thus fermented can have properties that are very valuable for food manufacturers. The Soufflet Group has now become the European expert in this technology.

SSF: technology working for your developments

“SSF can be used to make numerous molecules other than enzymes. Mastering the technology can be
of very broad interest, thus any industry (including non food) that wants to make any product by SSF, or have it made, is able to work in close cooperation with the Soufflet Group’s Biotechnology Division to develop,
or ultimately subcontract, manufacture of the particular target. In practice, an SSF process is based on the three Ss (Strain, Substrate, System). Whether it begins with one, two, three or even without Ss, a manufacturer wanting to develop its target by SSF will be able to rely on the Osiris/Lyven teams to achieve its goals”.  Jérôme Souppe


* Centre National des Arts & Métiers

Our approach

Right from the outset, the Soufflet Group developed itself in the wheat and barley industries by broadening the scope of its activities and acquiring more in-depth expertise from collection to transformation. Controlling all aspects of the production chain, in order to serve all its stakeholders, has always been our culture.