Royal DSM N.V. (Herleen, the Netherlands) and TU Delft announced the establishment of the Artificial Intelligence Lab for Biosciences (the AI4B.io Lab). This laboratory will be the first of its kind in Europe to apply artificial intelligence (AI) to full-scale biomanufacturing, from microbial strain development to process optimization and scheduling.
The AI4B.io Lab will be part of the Dutch National Innovation Center for AI (ICAI), which works to keep the Netherlands at the forefront of knowledge and talent development in AI. It will be led by Professor Marcel Reinders, Director TU Delft Bioengineering Institute. DSM regards biosciences as an important tool for addressing climate change and resource scarcity and optimizing the global food system so will invest €2.5 million into the laboratory over the first five years.
Developments in the understanding of biology, as well as major advances in digital transformation, are opening up exciting possibilities for new bio-based products, applications, and manufacturing processes. Integrating biosciences and digital technologies can help to reduce the time spent on innovation cycles, from prototyping to scaling and commercialization.
Traditionally, scientific research is based on trial and error within multiple sub-studies that work together toward a specific objective, such as a new product or production technology. What makes AI unique is that it allows scientists to invert this process. The desired objective is brought to life in a digital environment using ‘digital twins' (a virtual ‘mirror' of the desired real-world situation), while machine learning helps determine how to achieve it. Although AI is already widely applied in engineering research – for instance, to replace physical wind turbines or tunnels with digital twins – the AI4B.io Lab will be the first of its kind to explore AI's potential in biosciences and biotechnology.
Working closely together with partners can drive progress and create access to new technologies. For this reason, DSM decided to partner with TU Delft in setting up and developing the AI4B.io Lab. It will be the third ICAI Lab on the TU Delft campus, joining the AI for Retail Lab Delft of Ahold Delhaize, and the AI for Fintech Lab of ING. Additionally, TU Delft will invest in 24 interdisciplinary AI laboratories on a broad range of topics to further drive collaboration between scientists working in AI and scientists from other domains. The AI4B.io Lab will also collaborate with Planet B.io, the open-innovation ecosystem at the Biotech Campus Delft – for instance, by providing research insights and consultancy to biotechnology startups on the campus. Both DSM and TU Delft are founding partners of Planet B.io.
Through these extensive and broad collaborations, the partnership will further strengthen the position of Delft as the bio-economy capital of the world.
Professor Marcel Reinders, Director TU Delft Bioengineering Institute: ‘'Biotechnology can contribute significantly to solving major societal challenges, such as climate change, healthy nutrition for the world's rapidly growing population, and raw material scarcity. AI plays a crucial role in the development of biotechnology applications, but – scientifically speaking – there are still many unanswered questions at the cellular, lab, and process level. By linking our fundamental research to concrete opportunities at DSM, we can maximize our impact."
Marcus Remmers, Chief Technology Officer DSM: "TU Delft has a proven track record of groundbreaking research in AI, bioengineering, and bioinformatics. DSM is a global, science-based company that creates sustainable, bio-based products and solutions at commercial scale. This makes our parties the perfect match to tackle important scientific and societal challenges together."
Cindy Gerhardt, Managing Director Planet B.io: ‘'At Planet B.io, we stimulate open innovation and collaboration between startups, corporations, and knowledge institutes to develop bio-based products and solutions. We look forward to working together with the AI4B.io Lab to maximize the potential of AI and biosciences.''