The Fermentation Based Biomanufacturing Initiative 

The Fermentation Based Biomanufacturing initiative offers a comprehensive research-based education and training program in Fermentation Based Biomanufacturing (FBM) at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU). It covers various experience levels, i.e., graduate (MSc), post graduate (PhD), and continuing education (CE). 

The FBM education is based on cutting-edge research, covering all aspects of fermentation, e.g. fundamental physiology of production organisms, synthetic biology and metabolic engineering, scale-up process technology, and downstream processing.

Embedded in the Copenhagen area, one of the world's strongest biotech and pharma clusters, the FBM Initiative offers a unique and internationally leading education and research environment that provides exceptional conditions for all learners.

Stimulated by the biotech industry's growing demand for fermentation experts, the Fermentation Based Biomanufacturing Initiative was founded to provide tailor-made academic education in FBM for Master-students, PhD-students and Continued Education for professionals. The key elements of fermentation, i.e., bioreactor engineering and cell-factory engineering, are combined in the integrated education programs of the FBM Initiative. The figure below shows a concept of collaboration in research and teaching within the FBM-Initiative:

Concept of collaboration and between Bioengineering, Chemical Engineering, Biosustainability, Biotech Industry in the FBM Initiative

The three DTU units, DTU Bioengineering, DTU Chemical Engineering and the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability (CFB), each of world-class quality in their respective fields, collaborate in teaching the FBM subjects on expert level.

Each contribute with unique competences to research- and educational programs within Fermentation Based Biomanufacturing: DTU Bioengineering and CFB mainly support research and education related to cell factory engineering, while DTU Chemical Engineering focuses the research and education activities on the subject of bioreactor engineering.

The constant exchange with several partners in the industry ensures that the contents of the educational programs are adapted to the needs in the fermentation industry.

The FBM education covers all stages of industrial research and development – from discovery and selection of target molecules in micro- and lab-scale, to proof of concept in the pilot facility, and full-scale production with our partners in the industry. The hands-on training in the fermentation labs runs on equipment that is commonly used in the industry, to ensure the applicability of the acquired knowledge.

The graduates of the Fermentation Based Biomanufacturing Master- and PhD- programs are equipped with a comprehensive set of skills, combining theoretical and experimental knowledge in cell factory engineering and bioreactor engineering, which is in high demand by industrial employers. During the course of the studies, networking events and practice visits provide opportunities to facilitate the entry into a career within the industry.

The Continuing Education courses are developed in close cooperation with our industrial partners, ensuring that the contents are relevant. Participants of FBM Continued Education courses develop or refresh professional skills in the fermentation area, keep up with new developments and earn recognized certificates.

FBM researchers are working on various topics in the field of fermentation, and many projects are carried out in close cooperation with the industry. The FBM researchers contribute to the teaching in the FBM education tracks, serve as supervisors for Master- or PhD projects and act as hosts for visiting researchers, while offering expert advice in challenging fermentation projects.

Furthermore, the FBM initiative provides access to research infrastructure, from micro- to pilot-scale through collaborations with academia or industry.

Background Fermentation

Initially, fermentation was defined as “the anaerobic conversion of sugars to ethanol and carbon dioxide by yeast”. In an industrial context, the term fermentation stands for the production of a wide range of products by a variety of organisms (bacteria, yeasts, fungi, eukaryotic cell cultures). Industrially relevant fermentation products are chemicals, proteins and the biomass itself. Also the transformation of substrates e.g. from toxic to non-toxic can be the target of fermentation processes.

Fermentation is the core technology in most biomanufacturing processes and has been used as a means for food preservation for more than 8,000 years. However, the use of cell factories and FBM is comparatively new and will simultaneously be the basis for and the driving force for our future sustainable bio-economy. There are a multitude of opportunities for advancing technologies underlying the current use of fermentation and cell factory-based biomanufacturing.

New Fermentation Technologies

The ongoing development towards a biobased industry sparks an increasing interest in new fermentation technologies such as micro-fermentation, continuous fermentation, pulse-feed fermentation and single-use systems. Furthermore, the optimization of existing fermentation- and downstream processes is more in focus, nowadays. The same holds true for a scale-up of fermentation processes from lab-, or micro-scale, to industrial scale, which is challenging for all new bioprocesses.

Understanding the limitations and strengths in the technologies supporting the fermentation process is essential, to keep revenue and quality as high as possible and production costs as low as possible. Equally important is the reduction of the time it takes to convert from product discovery to full-scale production.

Detailed knowledge about the biological processes within the cell-factory that is producing the biobased compounds, and about further metabolites produced in the fermentation process, which may influence, e.g., strain growth or product stability, is, therefore, required. Besides that, it is crucial to have a precise understanding of the processes outside the cell, including the processing technologies required to control the fermentation process as well as the downstream processes such as purification and product stabilization during storage.

Consequently, the fermentation-based industry requires experts that have integrated knowledge in cell-factory engineering and bioreactor engineering, and those experts are educated in the FBM-Initiative.

FBM for a Sustainable Future

With an increasing need for reducing the environmental footprint, and the push towards converting a fossil-based economy into a circular economy, the biobased technologies and the biobased economy have become of increasing interest in nearly all industrial sectors (e.g., energy, materials, food, biotech, pharma). Biobased chemicals already constituted a market more than USD 140 billion per year in 2010, and this market is projected to grow at 3-6% per year reaching more than USD 500 billion in 2025, which is twice the rate of the entire chemical industry today.

Biobased technologies have already turned out to be superior to petrochemical-based technologies in several industrial sectors. The pyramid of biobased products gives an overview of the different product classes, e.g. energy at the bottom, with high volume and low price per volume and health products at the top, with high prices and low volumes. However, for a majority of chemicals, biobased production is not yet cost-effective, and new technologies and approaches are required in order to accelerate the transition from petrochemical-based production to biobased production.


Pyramide of Biobased Products - high volumes and low price at the bottom (biofuels), high price low volume at the top (health products))
   The pyramid of biobased products



Collage in green with flasks, DNA helix and a gloved hand, with the words of the vision of FBM: to educate, innovate, sustain.

To boost the development and application of fermentation based biomanufacturing and thus promote the transition towards a circular economy and a sustainable future by educating the world’s best fermentation experts.


FBM researchers and students in lab-coats in front of large bioreactor in the Pilot Plant at DTU Chemical Engineering
To develop and deliver world-class research-based education in biomanufacturing, tailor-made towards industry needs, to educate experts for the Danish and international fermentation industry.


Handshake with white sleeves
The FBM Initiative is open to cooperation with partners from academia and industry, e.g. in joint research projects, providing scientific advice in challenging fermentation setups, providing access to industry standard equipment, or in developing customized educational offers. If you are interested to collaborate, please get in touch.


Friederike Buchholz
Joint Program Manager
DTU Bioengineering
+45 93 51 89 33