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BIOTECHNOLOGY: When researchers conduct research, the way they do it depends on which part of the world they come from. The world’s largest producer of industrial enzymes, Denmark’s Novozymes, is hoping that Indian researchers can deliver surprising results for the company


The world’s largest producer of industrial enzymes, Denmark’s Novozymes, will open a research laboratory in Bangalore this year. By including Indian researchers in the company, which also has research groups in Japan, China, USA and Denmark, Novozymes is hoping that new and perhaps surprising angles in biotech research will emerge.

“In Novozymes we believe that multicultural diversity is an advantage for research as well as for the company’s commercial activities,” says vice president Ejner Bech Jensen, who is responsible for R&D in molecular bio-technology at Novozymes. “Although the results from research are universal by definition, we acknowledge that researchers with different backgrounds and different cultures think differently. By spreading out the research palette over several cultures we avoid habitual thinking.”

Protein engineering

Novozymes is an R&D oriented company, on which it spends 13% of its revenues. The bulk of Novozymes’ revenues are generated from industrial enzymes for applications in the detergent and feed industries, but even so, the company spends about 10% of its R&D budget on a number of pharmaceutical areas.

“Our new research group in Bangalore has the potential to become a good centre for preclinical research in the long term, since these competencies are well developed in India,” says Ejner Bech Jensen. “The combination of Indian researchers’ amazing computer technology and our knowledge of bio-technology could be invaluable. They are skilled at software development and computer technology, and it’s easy to imagine that in 5 to 10 years India will be the best place in the world for protein engineering, which requires superior computer technology to simulate the complicated protein structures”

Special enzymes

“The establishment of a research laboratory in India will also have commercial benefit for Novozymes in the long term,” says Ejner Bech Jensen. “By virtue of its size alone, the Indian market has giant potential, and we will naturally monitor it with great interest.

Our sales of industrial enzymes to India are currently fairly modest, but with the rapidly growing purchasing power of the Indian middle class, lifestyle habits and consumption patterns are changing. With our own researchers on the market, we will be well prepared to develop the special enzymes which the Indian market will demand.”

“One of the most promising growth areas in enzymes is however likely to be the development of enzymes for production of bioenergy, such as bioethanol,” says Bech Jensen. “I sense a strong movement in India in the direction of higher environmental consciousness, especially in the energy area. Here we are in a strong position with our technology for conversion of almost all forms of agricultural waste into pollution free energy. But to begin with, we are starting up gently in India and will see what it leads to. Perhaps something completely different to our expectations will come from it. That is the interesting thing about testing other ways of thinking,” ends Ejner Bech Jensen.  

This page forms part of the publication 'FOCUS DENMARK' as chapter 13 of 22
Version 1. 09-06-2006
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