The core competency of the Biotechnology Department is the development of production processes for starter cultures. These starter cultures can be presented either in lyophilised (dried) or liquid form. Frozen cultures can also be developed in special cases.
The cultures are mainly developed and produced for the Swiss milk and meat industry in order to give Swiss industry an advantage over foreign competitors. In the past, cultures were mainly developed for the milk industry, but now more and more cultures are being developed for the meat industry and/or for products that are not used directly in the food industry. The acquired knowledge and expertise of this Department is made available to both internal and external customers.
The Research Group Biotechnology is made up of two laboratories that are, on the one hand, responsible for carrying out biotechnological research work and, on the other, guarantee the quality of the starter cultures produced.
The production processes for the new starter cultures are developed in the Fermenter Technology Laboratory. This covers the whole process from the frozen preserve to the dried, tested powder.
The produced cultures are tested in the Quality Laboratory and, if passed, are released. At the same time the laboratory performs monitoring and hygiene consulting tasks for the production team.
The Research Group Biotechnology is also active in education, offering tuition at universities of applied sciences and training to become a technical laboratory assistant with a Federal Certificate of Competence (EFZ) in Biology.
Fermenter Technology Laboratory
The staff in the Fermenter Technology Laboratory are responsible for research work using bioreactors and biotechnological processes. These include the growth screening of microorganisms of interest in food technology, media and growth optimisation, and downstream processing of products from the bioreactor. Downstream processing focuses on extracting and drying active biomass. Complex experiments can also be carried out using the equipment available and so procedures like fed batch, repeated cycle batch or continuous processes can be developed.
Alongside the fermentation systems the laboratory also has equipment that facilitates a multitude of analyses of processes, including the possibility of tracking the metabolites of a culture online. Currently it is mainly sugar and acids that are analysed. However, other metabolites can be measured on request.
The staff of the Quality Laboratory are responsible for the coordination and implementation of release analytics. This ensures product conformity. The team tests and validates new analytical methods and prepares the relevant documents in compliance with international standards and current legislation.
It also assists the production team with any hygiene and monitoring issues.