The Austrian Centre of Industrial Biotechnology (acib) is bridging the gap between science and industry and connects about 200 partners in the field of industrial biotechnology. The international competence centre is located in Austria (Graz, Innsbruck, Tulln, Vienna) with scientific partners for example in Germany (Heidelberg, Bielefeld, Hamburg), Italy (Pavia), Poland (Rzeszów), Spain (Barcelona), and Taiwan.


acib is developing more environmentally friendly and economic processes for the biotechnological, pharmaceutical and chemical industries. All these processes are modelled on methods and tools from nature. This know-how is the foundation for new and improved applications and products in the field of industrial biotechnology all over the world. Currently, about 150 acib scientists are working on more than 90 industrial and strategic projects.


The broad range of scientific excellence at acib is divided in 7 research fields,
covering all sectors of industrial biotechnology.

Biocatalysis & Chemical Analytics

This research field describes the use of biocatalysts for the conversion and synthesis of molecules and to replace common chemical processes by efficient and environmental-friendly approaches. So far, numerous processes have been industrially implemented in single reaction format. Now, time has come for the development of multistep-onepot reactions, which would allow to reduce the number of working steps for processing and the purification of intermediate reaction products that cause a significant amount of CO2 emissions.

While chemical reaction conditions usually vary a lot, the conditions of enzymatic reactions are in principle quite similar to each other. The high level of complexity of multistep-onepot cascadic reactions demand for the integration of molecular techniques such as cell- and protein engineering as well as reaction techniques.

Contact: Prof. Robert Kourist

Enzyme Technologies & Protein Engineering

In this research field we are dealing with new enzymatic conversions in synthetic approaches in order to close current gaps of enzymatic process applications. A special focus is given to the optimization of enzymes for industrial approaches. Especially, in multistep-onepot reactions enzymes have to meet industrial requirements regarding specificity, stability and productivity. Appropriate enzyme variants are screened and their production process is going to be optimized. Knowledge about enzyme characteristics is necessary as well for the optimization with the help of (semi)-rational engineering methods.

The production and modification of proteins and enzymes for functional use in pharmaceutical agents, food and feed is an important focus as well. At the medical sector, smart technologies (eg fusion technologies) are used for a controlled production and purification of glycosylated proteins.

Contact: Prof. Bernd Nidetzky

Microbial Biotechnology

The research field includes the biotechnological utilization of microorganisms (bacteria, yeasts, fungi) and their compartiments. The new methods and concepts of synthetic biology are going to be used in order to reach the following objectives:
  • Making use of genetic diversity of microbial strains in order to increase the productivity and robustness of production strains
  • Development and characterization of standardized and customized elements for the systematic strain development of yeasts and fungi
  • Development of “carbon capture and utilization” technologies in order to convert CO2 into high-value products biotechnologically
  • Development of microbial populations (named microbiomes) for biologic plant protection
Contact: Prof. Diethard Mattanovich

Cell line Development & Epigenetic

The projects carried out in this area deal with a detailed, molecular understanding of the properties of production cells that are used for the manufacture of biopharmaceutical products. These include, above all, higher cell lines obtained from mammals, humans or plants, which are capable of producing therapeutic proteins of a quality which is suitable for injection into patients. In addition to therapeutic proteins, these cells can also be used for the production of viruses and virus-like particles that are applied in vaccines or gene therapy.

The research aims at optimizing the efficiency of cells so that higher yields are possible at highest quality, while at the same time reducing costs and necessary time lines. In particular, new technologies are to be developed which, with the help of systems biology and the analysis of genetic and epigenetic regulatory mechanisms in cells, improve the properties of cells for production and in the industrial bioprocess.

Contact: Prof. Nicole Borth

Bioinformatic & Simulations

Genes, RNA, proteins and metabolites are the key players in biological systems. The sum of these parts is less than the whole, because these actors never act alone, but are integrated into complex and multi-layered networks. The decoding of these networks and their structures as well as the interactions between them is therefore essential for an understanding of biological processes.

The aim of the research is therefore not only to decipher these network interactions with mathematical methods, but also to enable targeted influencing, control and monitoring of these networks on all cellular levels as well as on the levels of the bio-process (especially in the upstream and downstream area). This makes it possible to design and optimize biological cell factories in a targeted and rational way on the drawing board, which enable the sustainable production of chemical raw materials.

Contact: Prof. Jürgen Zanghellini

Bioprocess Technologies

The research area Bioprocess Technologies deals with the development of improved or new biotechnological processes, control and regulation algorithms. The aim of the research area is to obtain the most comprehensive possible understanding of biotechnological processes and to enable their application in the biopharmaceutical and biotechnological industry in general. By implementing new processes / technologies and control and regulation strategies, the manufacturing costs and the time to market entry of a biopharmaceutical product can be reduced. The research area is particularly dealing with
  • Development of production processes for bionanoparticles (eg viruses and virus-like particles VLP)
  • Scalability of processes and their transferability from laboratory to industrial scale
  • Modelling and simulation of biotechnological processes as a basis for automation
  • Development of new materials for biotechnological applications
  • Development of new (continuous) processes for the purification of proteins as Exploration of interaction between proteins and surfaces
Contact: Prof. Alois Jungbauer

Bioeconomy & Environmental Biotechnology

Optimizing recycling and recycling processes is a key issue at acib for a long time. Only a small part of plastic waste is recycled; huge amounts end up in the environment, where they are degraded very slowly. The aim is to optimize these processes in order to create a natural recycling process in the long term.

Microbial enzymes play an important role in this. The focus of this project is the design of new enzymes with improved and, above all, tailored activities towards (bio)polymers. In addition to the processing of (bio)polymers in large quantities, polymer-active enzyme reactions for new pharmaceutical strategies in connection with abusive opioid formulations are also being investigated.

In other sub-areas of the research project, modern metagenomic techniques are used to identify even non-cultivable microbes and their enzymes, and bacterial cell systems are investigated which, after exposure to certain human biomarkers, release intracellular indicator molecules, which subsequently lead to reactions with color development.

Contact: Prof. Georg Gübitz


A central funding programme of acib is FFG COMET (Competence Centres for Excellent Technologies; funded by BMK, BMDW, and the provinces of Styria, Vienna, Lower Austria and Tyrol). acib is funded as a K2 research centre and the COMET programme is processed via FFG.





acib is working closely with its scientific partner institutions, which allows access to a standardized and high-quality infrastructure.
Diverse equipment is listed below.

Bioindustrial Pilot Plant

The BioIndustrial Pilot Plant is a multi-purpose plant for fermentation and downstream processing of biomolecules under GMP-like conditions. The plant is intended for research and development of a wide range of biotechnological processes and equipped with state-of-the-art instrumentation for up- and downstream processing at a scale of 30 – 1600 L. Available equipment: bioreactors, separators, homogenizer, filtration equipment, ultra- and diafiltration, chromatographic systems, reactions vessels.


Microbial Fermentation & Bioprocess Development

At the Institute of Environmental Biotechnology process development for microbial fermentation is conducted with focus on utilization of renewable resources, production of microorganisms for animal nutrition and plant protection, production of bioplastics, enzyme technology and anaerobic bioprocesses. The facility offers fermentation equipment from lab scale (1–60 L) to pilot scale (up to 6000 L) including the required down-stream processing infrastructure. The fermentation pilot plant is configured for the production of living cells and the downstream processing is focused on biomass separation and/or concentration (centrifugation and filtration equipment) and drying processes (lyophilization, fluid bed drying). Protein purification is available at lab scale.

LOCATION: Pilot Plant IFA Tulln

LUMISizer (Analytical Centrifuge)

The LUMISizer measures the extinction of transmitting light through the sample in real-time during centrifugation and facilitates the analysis of particle and droplet speed for the behaviour of sedimentation. That enables us to determine the particle size without the need for material data. The separation of different particle sizes is possible with high resolution for up to 12 samples in parallel, which can have different levels of viscosity. The possible temperature ranges from 4°C to 60°C and samples can be aqueous or non-aqueous systems.


Nano DSC (Dynamic differential calorimetry)

The Nano DSC is used for the characterization of the molecular stability of biomolecules that are diluted in different solvents. The infrastructure offers a detailed characterization of molecular binding activities and structural stability. In more detail, the strength of binding activities and also specific and unspecific driving forces can be determined. The big advantages of the Nano DSC are the small sample volume (300 µl), a precise regulation of temperature in the range from -10°C to 130°C and the possibility to regulate cell pressure in up to 6 atmospheres. This opens new perspectives for the analysis of protein stability, heat capacity and aggregation behaviour under process conditions.

For more detailed information please contact Martin Trinker.
More Information: Austrian Research Infrastructure

Members of the acib partner networks benefit from a comprehensive knowledge and a broad methodological expertise of more than 150 highly motivated and skilled employees, modern infrastructure in 18 partner universities, access to an exclusive network of international industrial partners and research institutions and a variety of additional services.



As a non-profit organisation according to EU-definition acib is based on public and private funding for research. The Austrian federal COMET-programme builds a sound basis for acib’s activities. Additional funds are provided by FFG, EU and other funding organisations. Furthermore acib relies on increasing shares of industrial funding – more than 50 % of all activities are financed by industrial partners. Private donations and investments are welcome.