Yokogawa Electric Corporation, founded as an electric meter research institute, has utilized its measurement, control, and information technologies to contribute to the development of industry for more than 100 years. Yokogawa Electric was also the first company in the world to develop a distributed control system that controls and monitors the operation of production equipment. In 1996, a confocal scanner that can observe living cells with high speed and sensitivity was developed, marking Yokogawa’s entry into the field of biotechnology, and in recent years the company has actively worked on solutions to achieve a sustainable society. As part of these efforts, Yokogawa Innovation Switzerland (YIS) was established in June 2020, and Yokogawa Bio Frontier was launched the following year to sell materials such as S-CNF cellulose nanofiber, a next-generation plant-derived material.
Currently, we are focusing on the potential of microalgae with the key concept: cell as a plant.
From its base in Switzerland, the mission of YIS is to find promising biotechnology fields and work on research activities with members in Europe, Japan, India, and other countries to develop new biobusiness areas. "Currently, we are focusing on the potential of microalgae with the key concept: cell as a plant" explains Chief Science Officer Daisuke Nojima. This involves microorganisms themselves acting as producers of valuable substances. Just as various microorganisms contribute to the fermentation process in food processing, such as Swiss cheese or Japanese soy sauce, microalgae can be used to realize highly sustainable production processes for food, pharmaceuticals, advanced materials, energy and more. To this end, YIS will focus on cell-line development technology, taking advantage of its proprietary AI technology.
In the future, biotechnology will be an essential element in achieving a circular economy. In Europe, where there is a strong awareness of sustainability, technology for material production using biological functions will play an increasingly central role. Although there are still issues to be addressed, such as production costs and legal restrictions on genetically modified organisms, new systems and innovative technologies are being established around the world, and there are high expectations that useful materials will be developed in the near future.
Basel, the location of the Switzerland Innovation Park Basel Area - site Main Campus, is home to pharmaceutical giants such as Roche and Novartis, so it is also a centre of life science. Another major advantage is the accessibility of information, thanks to the established mindset of open innovation.
Yokogawa Electric has so far invested in European start-ups from Spain, Germany, Denmark, Belgium, and of course Switzerland. "Basel, the location of the Switzerland Innovation Park Basel Area - site Main Campus, is home to pharmaceutical giants such as Roche and Novartis, so it is also a centre of life science" says YIS President Tsuneji Sawai. “Another major advantage is the accessibility of information, thanks to the established mindset of open innovation,” he emphasizes. YIS plans to explore areas for collaboration by attending conferences and trade shows, as well as events hosted by government and trade organizations, to exchange ideas with related startup companies, universities and research institutes, using algae cell-line development technology as a foundation, in order to aim for further development in Europe and the world.