On April 19, 2021, Universidade Católica Portuguesa, in Porto, received a visit from John Melo, CEO of Amyris Inc, and Rui Moreira, mayor of the city of Porto, in which it were highlighted the national and international dynamics of the Faculty of Biotechnology in terms of Teaching, Research and Innovation, including the Alchemy project.
The Faculty of Biotechnology is based in a new building that has an area of more than 9,000 square meters divided into five floors, which includes more than 90 laboratories and classrooms. In the same building has the Center for Biotechnology and Fine Chemistry (CBQF) and the company Amyris Portugal.
The Alchemy project is one of the largest research projects in the field of biotechnology that, led by Amyris Bio Products Portugal in partnership with the CBQF Associate Laboratory of the Faculty of Biotechnology, results from a strategic partnership also with the Government of Portugal, through the Agency for Investment and Foreign Trade of Portugal (AICEP). The Alchemy project is funded by Portugal 2020, and FEDER Operational Program. It started in 2018 with the main goal of studying and developing new applications for the by-products/residues of Amyris fermentation processes and sugarcane production, thus enhancing the development of new molecules of high commercial interest, especially the cosmetics industry, but also for animal and human nutrition, new materials and pharmaceuticals. This collaboration has already enabled the hiring of a highly qualified team of more than 80 researchers.
In 2020, the project team presented an important result: the first biosilica extracted from sugarcane with application in the cosmetic industry. An innovative ingredient that has already given birth to a product that is being commercialized internationally. In addition to the development of new molecules, the future could bring the construction of a cosmetic factory in Portugal with the aim of producing and exporting to Europe.
Also present in the visit were Isabel Braga da Cruz and João Pinto, president and vice-president of the Porto Regional Centre of Universidade Católica Portuguesa, respectively; Paula Castro, dean of the Faculty of Biotechnology; Manuela Pintado, director of the Centre for Biotechnology and Fine Chemistry; Filipe Araújo, vice-president of the Porto City Council; and Miguel Barbosa, president of Amyris BioProducts Portugal.
Founded in 1984, at the Faculty of Biotechnology of Universidade Católica Portuguesa, multiple university activities are developed, with emphasis on Higher Education (Bachelors, Masters, Doctorates and Postgraduates), Research and Development (projects of fundamental and applied nature, laboratory and business, scientific and technological), and in the extension to the primary, secondary and tertiary sectors (through services and continuous training).