Home > South Australian biotech centre boosted by Chinese investment

South Australian biotech centre boosted by Chinese investment

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GLOBAL Chinese agribusiness Shandong Tianjiu Industrial Group has entered into a three-year $1 million joint research agreementwith Flinders University.

The three-year research collaboration between Shandong Tianjiu Industrial Group and Flinders University will focus on identifying new products and developing novel, energy-efficient advanced manufacturing technologies to increase applications, yields and purity of high-value marine bioproducts for functional foods in the premium export market.

Shandong Tianjiu’s biotech subsidiary produces more than 500 tonnes of plant product extracts a year, including yam flour, malt extract and a popular certified non-dairy creamer. The company is also one of the largest manufacturers of plant-derived functional peptides from food crops such as soybean, corn and peas. These plant extracts have a range of applications in the health food and nutritional supplement industries, beverage and baking sectors, as well as the pharmaceutical industry.

Professor Wei Zhang, director of the Centre for Marine Bioproducts Development at Flinders, said the joint investment was the first phase of investment and could expand in future, with South Australia’s clean marine environment highly regarded in Asia.

“We are delighted to partner with this large agricultural, food and biotech processing company, which is investing heavily in innovation and has already invested millions in R&D, developing food supplements or functional bioproducts and improved pharmaceuticals from plant extracts, fermentation and biotech polypeptide technology.

“Developing high-value marine biotech for advanced food manufacturing will add to Australia’s growing marine ‘blue economy’, which is forecast to grow to more than $100 billion by 2025,” said Professor Zhang.

Microscopic marine algae or phytoplankton is a sustainable and inexpensive source of single-celled photosynthetic organisms that contain compounds with benefits for human health and nutrition, animal diets and next-generation biofuels.

Proteins and peptides from microalgae, and other marine organisms, can be used as functional foods or supplements and to prevent or treat some medical conditions.

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