The Promise of Synthetic Biology
OU Kosher: Could you provide an overview of synthetic biotech and explain the specific challenges Solar Biotech is addressing with synthetic biology?
SolarBiotech: Synthetic Biology is an industry poised to make a substantial economic impact, potentially contributing up to $4 trillion annually within the next 10-20 years. Our mission at Solar Biotech is to produce food ingredients sustainably, without the use of traditional agricultural or animal sources. We utilize microbial cells in biomanufacturing processes similar to those used for pharma-grade products, such as insulin. This approach is inherently safer, operates in a controlled, sterile environment, mitigating animal-borne disease risks and is kosher-friendly, as most products are pareve due to no animal derivatives. Biomanufacturing is more sustainable and secure, demanding less water, energy, and chemicals, and allows for local production facilities.
Expanding the Food Product Spectrum
OU Kosher: What range of products can you produce, and what role do they play in the food industry?
SolarBiotech: We have the capacity to produce an extensive range of food products, including alternatives for dairy proteins, enhancements for plant-based products, protein-based sweeteners, biooils, bio-based preservatives, and nutraceuticals. Essentially, any ingredient currently obtained from plant or animal sources could be biomanufactured, aligning with the strategic direction supported by the US government.
OU Kosher: How does Solar Biotech stand out in the industry?
SolarBiotech: As a vertically integrated company, we offer end-to-end biomanufacturing solutions—from conceptual design, prototyping, and bioprocess optimization to the construction of state-of-the-art operational biomanufacturing plants. We combine deep bioprocess knowledge with plant engineering to maximize performance and minimize risk. Our team, with extensive experience in biomanufacturing and engineering, has been operational for five years, contributing to industry-leading projects.
Technology at the Heart of Production
OU Kosher: Could you discuss the key technologies central to your work?
SolarBiotech: Our core technologies include precision fermentation to cultivate microbial cells, such as yeast, which act as microfactories for food ingredient biomanufacturing. Post-production, ingredients are separated using advanced downstream processing techniques, including centrifugation and filtration. Our proprietary controlling software, vetted by industry leaders, grants us significant independence in the industry.
Looking Towards a Global Presence
OU Kosher: What are Solar Biotech’s future plans?
SolarBiotech: With a presence in Canada, the USA, and business ties in Europe (France), we are looking to take our advanced technologies and sustainable biomanufacturing practices to a global scale.
Sustainability and Community Impact
OU Kosher: In what ways is Solar Biotech committed to sustainability?
SolarBiotech: We are dedicated to sustainable operation of our biomanufacturing plants. In Virginia, USA, we are working to solarize operations and focus on water reclamation, waste upcycling, and CO2 capture for carbon-neutral or reduced-carbon operations. Our efforts in traditionally coal mining areas are creating unprecedented career opportunities for locals and driving economic development.
Integrating with Local Communities
OU Kosher: Could you tell us about your facility’s location and its relationship with the local community?
SolarBiotech: In Wise County, a region not traditionally known for biotech, we have established a collaborative relationship with the local government and the Wise County Industrial Development Authority. Our initiative supports the local economy, leveraging over 300 local vendors, and providing job training and opportunities for residents, transforming Wise County into a burgeoning industrial biotech hub.