HKI Colloquium

Biotechnology from Home Office - Miniaturization, Automation, and Digitalization in Bioprocess Development

Prof. Wolfgang Wiechert

IBG-1: Biotechnology, Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH, Jülich, Germany

Date and time



In recent years, the speed of microbial strain generation based on synthetic biology tools is steadily increasing. Today, one lab can easily produce 10.000 different mutants of an industrially used platform organism in one week. In contrast, the throughput of bioprocess devel-opment stays way behind. Widening this bottleneck is a central research topic in the Jülich biotechnology institute IBG-1. Miniaturization of typical bioprocess development operations by using parallel micro cultivation devices integrated with lab robots has significantly changed the way in which bioprocesses are developed today.

However, before such automation platforms can replace classical lab scale bioreactors, high efforts have to be taken to achieve reproducible and quantitatively reliable cultivations in the micro-titer scale. Once this works, scientists are confronted with a flood of quantitative information, which cannot be handled anymore within classical workflows. This is where digitalization and data science comes in. Modern workflow systems and artificial intelligence algorithms can perform many (but not all) tasks automatically, thus assisting human deci-sion-making. The talk will illustrate the established experimental and digital workflows with examples from process performance indicator estimation, micro cultivation of filamentous fungi, and strain selection. At the end, it will become clear, that – at least in bioprocess de-velopment – “Biotechnology from Home Office” is already reality.