Matteo Brognoli, Co-Founder of Solaris Italy
Enjoying meat that is not from an animal is a modern reality. With conventional agriculture causing adverse effects on climate, food chain, and animal welfare, alternative protein consumption is a step towards a sustainable future. Cellular agriculture companies are innovating solutions to traditional animal-based foods and ingredients by producing clean meat from animal muscle cells. However, with increasing customer demand, these companies face a major challenge in the form of scalability—growing a range of different cell types
often requires customizable and scalable food fermentors or bioreactors.
Enter Solaris Biotech
, a leading manufacturer of bioprocessing equipment. With exceptional prowess and experience in tailoring products and capabilities for customer demands, the company is perfectly positioned to supply the equipment necessary for innovation. Solaris specializes in bioreactors and fermenters that generate the optimal environment for cell cultivation, algae growth and microbial fermentation. Using intuitive automation and software, these systems support the full scope of process development from benchtop bioreactors
to production scale
. The flexible laboratory scale equipment ranges from 120 ml to 20L, and the customizable, cGMP certifiable industrial equipment ranges from pilot-scale systems of 20-300L up to 50000L. These systems can be integrated with ancillary bioprocess equipment
and customizable tangential flow filtration
(TFF) systems. Solaris also assists its clients in the design and manufacturing of complete integrated turnkey process plants. “Our equipment and software enable customers to develop processes in a lab and effectively scale up for production,” says Tim Erisman, vice president-USA at Solaris Biotech.
Founded in 2002, Solaris has since grown exponentially and meticulously caters customer needs in diverse industries such as pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and food and beverages. While the company’s equipment is ideal for pharmaceutical applications, the alternative protein market also uses similar technologies for cell culture, increasing demand in the sector. A preferred choice for many of the largest food and beverage manufacturers in the U.S, Solaris supplies vessels to other branches, including fermented drinks, wines, meat preservatives, and flavors. Erisman also mentions a broader demand from universities for research and companies adding bio-processed food to their product mix to satisfy their customers. “Our equipment is integral to the food production in the U.S,” quips Erisman.
At the core of these advanced and accessible solutions is the powerful software Leonardo 3.0 with the same interface at every process scale—from benchtop units to pilot-industrial scales. Having started by producing large scale equipment, Solaris understands the requirements for both spectrums and enables the platform to integrate with any system. Being intuitive and easy to use, the interface communicates with one or more Siemens PLCs to control, record, and display all process parameters in real-time during cultivation. This technically collaborative approach enables improved efficiency in optimization, communication, and scale up.
Solaris assists its clients in the design of process equipment through the design of feasibility studies. This helps identify costs related to realizing projects and making crucial early decisions when starting a new biotech project. The company also lends support in basic engineering for process plant design. In the case of the benchtop series, Solaris offers an exclusive opportunity to test the equipment's performance before purchase. Clients can also run their experiments at any scale and work on process development and optimization at Solaris Training Centre, with highly qualified personnel assisting them step by step during the process.
Highlighting the solutions' efficiency, Erisman cites an instance where Solaris helped a preservative company scale its production to meet the product demand during the COVID-19 pandemic. The equipment installed by Solaris enabled mass capacity and improved production processes, bringing in quadrupled sales. In another instance, Solaris helped a fermentation company with an anaerobic enzymatic process conducted at a fixed temperature. The client was inexperienced in this process and didn't know the right parameters for cell growth. While the previous system allowed a 30-degree swing in temperature parameter, the Solaris system is accurate down to a 10th of a degree variation. Solaris equipment showed a significant improvement in growth rate at a different temperature, thus improving the process dramatically. This accelerated production, and the client was able to run one system for half the time instead of eight systems, increasing the capacity, efficiency, and yield of the process.
Solaris today is an integral part of a revolution that is changing the way humanity consumes food. “The future will have seafood not from the sea, beef not from cows, and pork not from pigs. Our customers are working towards this change and we strive to help them take a step forward every day through our scalable solutions,” concludes Erisman.