Team:KU LEUVEN/Entrepreneurship

KUL iGEM wiki 2019

KUL iGEM wiki 2019



From the start, our team was determined to ensure that our research can have an impact outside the lab and possibly benefit society. We decided we wanted to find a tangible value of a hypothetical product by developing a detailed plan on the steps of going from lab to market. Our team developed a TRIZ-matrix, a problem-solving analysis that provided us with the necessary solutions to our project related problems. Setting up this matrix allowed us to come up with relevant solutions and helped us in determining our business strategy. We ultimately summarized this strategy in a business model canvas.

To accurately determine the viability and feasibility of a start-up scenario, we wrote an extensive business model using the business scaffold, made in collaboration with the iGEM team of UNSW Australia. In this model, we describe the structure of our business, conduct an extensive market analysis of the enzym market. Finally, we execute a financial report on enzyme production costs and revenues of a theoretical industrial plant using cyanobacteria.

TRIZ Matrix

The TRIZ matrix is a readily used tool by businesses and startups. The basic principle behind this tool is to find already existing solutions to similar problems. In order to use the matrix, a contradiction is made between a feature that must be improved and a feature that must be preserved; these are taken from a list of 39 available parameters. We used a few of these contradictory statements to solve the current problems facing our project. The website of TRIZ40 was consulted for the statements [1].

The Business Model Canvas

Key Partners

  • Providers of CO2 with high purity for example fermentation/ amonia producing companies

  • Academic and industrial experts in the field for the advisory board of the Start-up
Key Activities

  • Product development: Production of enzymes

  • Research & Development: Refining current technologies and searching for new technologies that fit in the pipeline of OCYANO


OCYANO, a value-driven company, offers a low-input platform for carbon negative protein production that contains technologies to tackle the bottlenecks of cyanobacteria, namely the slow growth and protein secretion, when used for mass production

Customer Relationships

  • Personal assistance: A personal relationship with a representative of OCYANO to get advice during or after the purchase.

  • Focus on a long-term relationship with our customer because for the sales, OCYANO relies on a mediator
Target Group

  • OCYANO is a B2B start-up company

  • Production scale: target medium to large companies and make the impact of the technology as high as possible.

  • The targeted companies are aware of the need to produce sustainably and ecologically.

  • The targeted companies are open to innovation within their company and are happy to keep up with the latest trends.
Key Resources

  • Physical: Lab space, manufacturing facilities

  • Intellectual Property: Proprietary knowledge, patents and partnerships

  • Human: experienced scientists, sales agents

  • Financial: Funding by government (VLAIO), Business Angels

  • Owned Direct: We sell our enzymes through sales agents who have good scientific knowledge and insight into the technical side of the products. Potential customers can contact us via our website or social network

  • Partner Indirect: Attend manufacturing conferences to raise the awareness of our technologies
Cost Structure

  • High fixed costs because of manufacturing equipment: lab space, the plant, machines

  • Operational costs

  • Salaries

  • Marketing costs
Revenue Streams

  • Asset sale: OCYANO will produce enzymes and the customers will pay for each produced enzyme

  • Wholesale: Sell our product via sales agents to other companies and produce enzymes in high concentrations

Business Plan

Financial Analysis

Financial analysis
In the previously outlined business plan, we hypothesize starting a company. A financial analysis is a helpful addition to a business plan as it gives us an overview of the risks and rewards associated with scale-up. Due to corporate confidentiality, however, we were not able to estimate revenues in a realistic manner. Nevertheless, we were able to examine the costs, splitting up the analysis in the engineering phase and the production phase.

Engineering phase
The engineering phase is the first phase towards a large-scale industrial production line. Firstly, the set-up of the required growth conditions for the cyanobacterial culture needs to be set. To achieve optimal growth conditions, the purchase of a CO2 incubator and approximately 3L of BG-11 medium is required. Once the right conditions are established, Synechoccous elongatus UTEX 2973 can be purchased, followed by the construction of the recombinant plasmid. The necessary expenses for this construction are a commercial plasmid backbone, the synthetic DNA insert of the protein of interest, oligo NT primers, and the Gibson Assembly master mix. Specific plasmids and One Shot TOP10 E. Coli have to be subsequently purchased. According to our calculations, the expenses for this phase will be approximately $7,906.08 (Table 1).

Engineering phase
Description Costs Company
Backbone plasmid $109.21 Addgene
Primers $22.39 IDT
Synthetic DNA ($88 for 251-500 bp) $88.04 IDT
Gibson assembly master mix $187.23 BIOKÉ
Plasmids (conjugation) $131.09 Addgene
One Shot TOP10 electrocompetent E. Coli $343.26 Thermo Fisher
Cyanobacteria (UTEX 2973) $186.19 UTEX
CO2 incubator $6,352.54 Eppendorf
BG11 Medium ($81z/500mL; 3L) $486.14 Sigma-Aldrich
Total $7,906.08

Production Phase
The production phase can start once the recombinant cyanobacteria strain is established. Starting at small scale production (laboratory fermenter, 50L), production can be increased to ‘pilot scale’ (10m3) and afterwards to ‘plant scale’ (500m3). The costs associated with each of these production scales are estimated to be respectively: $195 000, $1.9 million and $83 million (Table 2-4). These costs include the rent of industrial space, constructing a closed photobioreactor, the required amount of BG-11 medium and staff salaries. A significant decrease in costs can be achieved by creating own BG-11 medium instead of commercially purchasing ready-made medium.

Production phase 1: Laboratory fermenter (50L)
Description Costs
Fixed costs Manufacturing space ($6/m2; 100m2) $575.07
Closed photobioreactor ($50-150/m2) Further development of industrial design needed
Variable costs BG11 Medium ($81/500mL, 50L) $8,102.27
Staff salaries ($3900/month; 12 months, 4 employees) $187,200.00
Total $195,877.34

Production phase 2: Pilot scale (10m3)
Description Costs
Fixed costs Manufacturing space ($6/m2; 500m2) $2,875.36
Closed photobioreactor ($50-150/m2) Further development of industrial design needed
Variable costs BG11 Medium ($81/500mL, 10 000L) $1,620,453.92
Staff salaries ($3900/month; 12 months, 5 employees) $234,040.80
Total $1,857,370.08

Production phase 3: Plant scale (500m3)
Description Costs
Fixed costs Manufacturing space ($6/m2; 5000m2) $28,753.58
Closed photobioreactor ($50-150/m2) Further development of industrial design needed
Variable costs BG11 Medium ($81/500mL, 500 000L) $81,022,696.00
Staff salaries ($3900/month; 24 months, 20 employees) $1,872,326.40
Total $82,923,775.98

KUL iGEM wiki 2019