Unibio Group: A Sustainable Solution to the World’s Food Problems

Unibio Group

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The need for animal protein in today’s world is increasing rapidly. Being one of the pioneer ventures in the biotechnology sector with core competencies within fermentation technologies, Unibio Group is addressing this need with its technology and end product—–the protein. Unibio International was incorporated in 2014 and acquired the Danish company Unibio A/S. Unibio is headquartered close to Copenhagen in Roskilde, Denmark, and has all pilot and demonstration-scale activities in Kalundborg, the biggest industrial area outside of greater Copenhagen. Unibio aims to become the world market leader within protein production technology based on methanotrophic bacteria, partly by production in Joint Ventures, and partly by licensing the production technology to international investors.

Uniprotein®: A High-value Microbial Protein

Unibio has developed a sustainable, organic, and environmentally-friendly high-value protein —Uniprotein® product—for animal feed. The Uniprotein® product is a microbial protein meal capable of replacing fishmeal and soybean meal as a protein ingredient in feed for various animals including fish, shrimps, and pigs.

It is a microbial protein meal (approx. 70% protein) which is approved as feed material by EU Commission Regulation 2017/1017 of 15 June 2017 on the catalog of feed materials. Moreover, the Uniprotein® product is a non-polluting product and is produced by a non-genetically modified microbial culture with methane as the sole carbon source, and the product is free of toxins and dioxin due to the controlled production process.

U-Loop® Technology: A Cutting-edge Fermentation Technology

Alongside, Unibio has developed U-Loop® Technology. In principle, the U-Loop® fermenter can be used for all fermentation processes where gases are mixed with water. The protein is produced by continuous fermentation in the U-Loop® fermenter with static mixers and a pump to drive to liquid flow. The production process is aerobic with methane gas as the carbon and energy source for bacterial culture. Oxygen is used for oxidation in the fermentation process, and ammonia is used as a nitrogen source.

The fermentation process uses the Methanatrophic Bacterium Methylococcus capsulatus. Moreover, in addition to the bacterial culture and substrates, water, phosphate, as well as several minerals are used in the fermentation process. This use of methane gas to produce biomass is beneficial to the environment as the only by-product of the production is water. CO2 is emitted in connection with the production, however, these emissions are only half of the CO2 emissions from gas flaring, the avoided effect of producing a non-land or ocean-based protein product should not be neglected, as it will significantly lessen stress on important ecosystems.

Supporting the UN’s Sustainable Goals

The most admired feature of Unibio is that with its technology, it can improve the climate and help lessen the effect of food production on a global scale. Unibio supports the UN’s sustainability goals (SDGs) and Uniprotein® product supports four of these goals 2, 12, 14, and 15.

  • SDG 2: The Uniprotein® product can be produced in large and almost unlimited quantities, thus offering an alternative to existing protein sources without putting further stress on ecosystems. Moreover, Unibio’s U-Loop® technology makes it possible to produce protein for animal feed and in the future for human consumption as well.
  • SDG 12: Unibio’s technology reduces the use of water as the production of 1kg of Uniprotein® product requires 10 L of water compared to the production of 1kg of protein from soybean meal, which would consume approximately 6000 L of water. Moreover, most of the water in the U-Loop® fermenter can be recycled, which further reduces consumption.
  • SDG 14: The company contributes to the production of proteins that do not further stress the fishery. Its protein product has an amino acid composition comparable to that of fishmeal, and the production of protein products does not overexploit or deplete fish stocks. It takes merely 1 tonne of wild-caught fish to produce approximately 300-400 kg of fishmeal.
  • SDG 15: 3000 m² of industrial soil is required to produce 1000 tonnes of Uniprotein® products per year. In comparison, 8,51,300 m² soil is required to produce 1000 tonnes of soybean protein.

A Driven Businessman leading from the Front

Henrik Busch-Larsen, the Group CEO, Board Member, and shareholder of Unibio, is at the forefront of the company’s operations. He took over the reins of the company in 2012 as the CEO and since then, he has been handling several roles and responsibilities. His primary role is ensuring the continued growth of the company and also representing the company when talking to investors to attract capital.

During the journey of Unibio, Henrik and the team has accomplished many feats.  In 2015 a pilot plant was established in collaboration with the Technical University of Denmark, DTU. In the end of 2016, the production was scaled up with a demonstration plant in Kalundborg, and an agreement with a Russian licensee establishing a full-scale plant in Russia was made. In 2019 Mitsubishi Corporation behave a shareholder, and the parties are now developing a partnership. During the last couple of years, the Uniprotein® product has been introduced to several feeding companies, who have tested the protein from Unibio and significant interest for purchasing Uniprotein has been established when the production goes into full scale. The ambition of the company is to become the world leader in microbial protein fermentation technology.

Unaltered Services despite the Crisis

Despite the disruptions made by the pandemic, Unibio’s Denmark based R&D activities remained relatively steady and unaffected throughout the crisis. The company operations continued throughout the crisis as they were almost prior to the pandemic, although the company had to follow the recommendations from the authorities. Many tasks were solved from home on the computer and critical areas such as R&D and production in Kalundborg remained unaffected.

Moreover, for any business to thrive in these circumstances, it is important to keep the employees motivated and driven. Unibio has managed to keep the same. “I sincerely believe the Unibio team is as engaged, committed, and motivated as before COVID-19,” said Henrik Busch-Larsen.

Exploring Possibilities, Making a Difference

In the near future, Unibio aims to make a difference for the climate and help to feed the growing population with its technology and protein product. The company is exploring the possibilities of using the protein in different ways and is part of various projects which will help it achieve the goals. Now is the time to scale.


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