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 additional locations 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, more than 250 acib scientists are working on more than 150 industrial and strategic projects.


Members of the acib partner networks benefit from a comprehensive knowledge and a broad methodological expertise of more than 250 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.



The broad range of scientific excellence at acib is divided in 12 research fields,
covering all sectors of industrial biotechnology.

Biotransformation for synthesis

In the research field biotransformation for synthesis, biocatalysts are used to convert and synthesize molecules. Biocatalysts enable us to replace inefficient, chemical methods by more environmentally friendly processes. Biocatalytic reactions feature a number of advantages: They usually need mild process conditions (neutral pH, normal air pressure and gentle temperatures between 20 and 45°C as well as aqueous buffer systems), are working without toxic heavy metals and are then highly efficient in fast conversions, chemo-, regio- and stereoselectivity. In order to use biocatalysis in as many reactions as possible, there is an increasing need for new enzymes for technological applications (e.g. for the production of pharmaceuticals, fine chemicals, agrochemicals, food).
acib focuses on new innovative biocatalytic reactions, studying new enzymes and reactions on a molecular level in order to successfully establish enhanced bioprocesses.

Biotechnological material processing

Biotechnological material processing is becoming more and more important in the circular economy and is a meaningful part of biorefineries for the use of renewable resources. The advantage of biotechnological conversions is not only mild process conditions but also their high specificity. Acib aims at developing new biotechnological approaches for specific demands within different value chains. For example, new biotechnological solutions help to provide natural and synthetic materials with specific attributes. In terms of synthetic materials, acib researchers focus on the investigation of biobased and biodegradable polymers, including the development of biotechnological recycling procedures of polymer building blocks and even valuable metals. In the sense of a sustainable production new approaches for the conversion of CO2 into platform chemicals are explored.

Recombinant protein production

acib focuses on the improvement and optimization of prevalent cell factories Escherichia coli (the most frequently used bacterial system), Pichia pastoris (yeast) and Trichoderma reseei (filamentous fungi). The main objective of the research activities are to foster an understanding of the molecular, genetic and regulatory mechanisms, that enable the cells to survive in current bioprocess conditions with high cell density and yield and to perform reliably and reproducibly. The knowledge gained will be used for a facilitated selection of appropriate cell lines (screening), for adjusting cell lines to current demands by alterations in gene expression and for adapting bioprocesses for optimal conditions in order to allow cells to perform reproducibly (bioprocess optimization).

Metabolic modelling and engineering

Metabolic engineering is an applied research field aiming at a targeted modification of metabolic pathways in microorganisms in order to allow the production of high yields (e.g small organic compounds). acib works on the improvement and optimization of yeast and filamentous fungi for the overproduction of organic acids. A comprehensive understanding of the molecular, genetic and regulatory mechanisms for the overproduction of these compounds is necessary to obtain highly productive strains (cell engineering). Based on that, bioprocesses can be adapted for optimal production conditions.

Modelling of cellular systems and systems biology

Systems biology is a cross-sectional discipline that plays an important role in many projects. In this research area, acib focusses on the mathematic metabolic modelling of biotechnologically relevant cells. The main objective is the integration of experimental data about cellular metabolic regulations into the youngest generation of metabolic models of acib’s most relevant workhorses Pichia pastoris and Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Another objective is the integration of systems biological data (gene regulations, proteins, measurable metabolic products) in order to obtain new findings for the development of new production platforms.

Enzyme and protein engineering

Enzymes are highly efficient catalysts for chemical transformations. This research topic focuses on the identification, design, development, utilization and targeted improvement of enzymes for technological applications, especially in the industry. The integrative development of robust biocatalysts in technical processes and of functional proteins without catalytic activity are main objectives and are expected to be applied in material sciences, analytics and medical sciences. The development of new enzymes and proteins is based on a multidisciplinary approach that includes molecular and process relevant aspects. Tailored enzymes used as biocatalysts and as products for analytics and diagnostics are interesting research topics of this field.


In the area bioprospecting, the investigation of new microbiomes and microorganisms and their spectrum of metabolites is supposed to lead to potential new biotechnological applications. Microbiome research is a rather new discipline. In recent years, it has become obvious that a balanced microbiome is an important factor for each organism’s health. acib develops biotechnological products that can recover this fragile balance and protect culture plants from biotic and abiotic stress. Apart from that, acib explores metabolic interactions in order to identify new, bioactive substances.

Continuous integrated manufacturing

Currently, the preferred production route in the biopharmaceutical industry is a batch process. Due to high costs and governmental regulations there is a demand for continuous production processes. However, the scientific background is limited. acib has identified this demand and established a research focus addressing this dilemma. acib aims at developing continuous processes in lab scale and complement this with basic research, in order to transform current batch processes into continuous approaches. Thus, acib-researchers are presently developing an “in-process control” for monitoring particular production steps, continuous processes for the production of recombinant coagulation proteins and continuous and integrated production processes for viruses and virus-like particles.

New materials for bioprocessing

The use of new materials in existing processes can lead to new functions or substantial improvements of the processes. Currently, there are hardly any processes for the purification of bionanoparticles . Thus we strive for new materials, which are highly porous and recognize particles by their geometric forms. Fractal structures with the named attributes are obtained by crystallization of metal oxides (e.g. titan oxide). Nanomembranes are developed, which allow transport against the concentration gradient. For the regeneration of cofactors needed for the active transport, membranes are coated with gold nanoparticles providing conductibility. For the active transport, acib uses special transporters such as xylosetransporters.

New processes for biopharmaceuticals

acib focuses on intensified biotechnological processes and process understanding in this research areas. A basic mechanistic process understanding is also required by pharma authorities. The objectives are reliable predictions from smallest chromatography columns up to large scale equipment for the purification of biopharmaceuticals and the optimization of production processes by high-throughput approaches, e.g. for the production of biopharmaceuticals in E. coli, which usually are not very stable. In addition we produce enzymes to be used for the purification of biopharmaceuticals, which perfectly complements the activities within this research field.

Genome information databases for CHO

Knowledge about genomic sequences of the most relevant biotechnological workhorses such as Escherichia coli or Saccharomyces cerevisiae was available very early. In contrast, the genome of Chinese Hamster Ovary cells (CHO) has been resolved and published quite recently (between 2011 and 2013) with acib being part of this research. The CHO cell line is currently used for the production of 8 out of the top 10 blockbuster biotherapeutic agents and, thus, is extremely relevant for industrial applications. Knowing the gene sequence is essential in order to further improve and facilitate the production of biopharmaceuticals, and make them cheaper. The objective of this research focus is the extension and exploration of data sets and models to improve production efficiency and efficacy.

Cell line engineering

This research field focuses on the improvement of CHO cell factories in terms of growth rate (with a high yield of biomass the yield of biotherapeutics also increases), productivity and product quality. These aspects demand for a detailed analysis of cell behaviour with different properties on transcriptomic and proteomic level in order to identify limiting processes. These processes are engineering targets, so that efficiency and yield can be increased in industrial production processes. The methods of choice are either genetic engineering (insertion of additional “missing” genes, overexpression) or the development of effective selective methods.


A central funding programme of acib is FFG COMET (Competence Centres for Excellent Technologies; funded by BMVIT, BMWF, 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. In the current funding period (2015 – 2019) acib is processing a volume of 65 million Euro with 18 scientific and 53 industrial partners in 56 projects.





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