Technology Academy Finland (TAF) has given the Millennium Distinction Award to MetGen Oy, a company specialising in directed evolution, also known as protein engineering.
TAF awards the Millennium Distinction Award on alternate years with the Millennium Technology Prize. The Distinction is awarded to a company or researcher operating in Finland whose work is connected with the research field of the preceding winner of the Millennium Technology Prize. The 2016 Millennium Technology Prize was awarded to Professor Frances Arnold from the United States for developing a new and efficient method for creating proteins in the laboratory. Engineered proteins can be used to replace expensive or fossil-fuel-based production in many areas of industry. 2017 Millennium Distinction Award recipient MetGen also employs the methods pioneered by Professor Arnold.
“The one-million-euro Millennium Technology Prize is an international award of recognition, whereas the Millennium Distinction Award is designed to reward and showcase cutting-edge commercial applications and research in the same field in Finland,” says Ari Ahonen, CEO of Technology Academy Finland. “With this year’s Millennium Distinction Award we support a Finnish enterprise that is fast gaining international recognition and also participates in several sustainable EU projects.”
MetGen provides cleantech solutions for industry
Founded in 2008 in Kaarina, Finland, MetGen Oy provides enzymes to the constantly growing biomass market. The mission of the cleantech company is to empower businesses in employing faster and more energy-efficient processes by providing them with enzymes, proteins that function as catalysts also in nature. The advantage of the genetically engineered enzymes developed by MetGen is that they can withstand challenging conditions in industrial production, such as extreme pH values and high temperatures.
MetGen develops new enzymes for three sectors of the industry: pulp and paper industry, biofuels, and industrial waste water processing. In pulp production, for instance, savings in energy, cost and time are significant when the chips can be partially broken down with enzymes prior to pulping. Enzymes can also be used to manufacture bioethanol fuel from pulp production waste.
MetGen has excelled in utilizing advanced methods of directed evolution and protein engineering for benefit of green chemistry by aiming to reduce pollutants and the use of non-renewables in various industries.
“The great challenge for the future is to utilise all fractions of the biomass feedstock to produce chemicals and materials,” says Alex Michine, CEO of MetGen. “We are planning to address the full value-chain in bioprocessing, targeting zero waste performance and lowering the carbon footprint.”
MetGen has previously won other awards, including the European John Sime Award for Most Innovative Technology of 2016. Moreover, in 2014 the Global Cleantech Cluster Association named MetGen one of the top 10 cleantech cluster companies in the world.
“It is an honour and a privilege to receive the Millennium Distinction Award. We see this award as a huge motivator to contribute even more to further growth of sustainable bioeconomy”, says CEO Alex Michine.
Technology Academy Finland TAF will present the Millennium Distinction Award in cooperation with the City of Turku, Turku Science Park, Turku University of Applied Sciences, University of Turku and Åbo Akademi on 2 November 2017 at 18.00 at Turku City Hall. Representatives of the media are welcome to attend.
The next Millennium Technology Prize will be awarded on 22 May 2018.
JURY OF THE MILLENNIUM DISTINCTION AWARD 2017
Christine Hagström-Näsi, Senior Advisor, Click Innovation Oy
Mart Saarma, Professor, University of Helsinki
Jukka Seppälä, Professor, Aalto University