The bioprocessing industry is experiencing strong growth as products for various industries are being developed in a more ecological manner. Working with living organisms has its challenges, however. One such challenge is frequent sampling, which is time-consuming and often results in losses. BioIntelligence Technologies has tackled this problem by developing innovative solutions for monitoring, understanding, predicting and optimizing the performance of bioprocesses. Through its solutions, the company is helping to improve the efficiency and profitability of new, greener industrial processes.
Bioprocessing consists of generating large-scale fermentation or living cell cultures in vessels called bioreactors. These processes are used to manufacture drugs, cosmetics and components for consumer goods (e.g. biodegradable bags) and the agri-food industry (biofertilizers, biopesticides, citric acid, lactic acid, etc.). Thanks to this cleaner manufacturing technology, it’s now possible to manufacture new molecules and replace certain chemical synthesis processes.
Working for more than 25 years in the bioprocessing industry, Joël Sirois, the founder of BioIntelligence Technologies, noticed a flaw in the manufacturing process: it was impossible to precisely measure what was happening inside the vessels in any way other than by taking many samples for subsequent laboratory analysis. This method requires many resources, creates delays and introduces a risk of contamination that could cause certain batches to underperform or to be completely lost.
Seeing that there was no solution to the problem, Joël Sirois decided to leave the biopharmaceutical company he had co-founded in 1997 as it was being sold, and to join Sherbrooke University to carry out research and develop a technology that could meet this industry need. That’s when he founded BioIntelligence Technologies, which officially began operations in 2014. The company’s objective was to combine business and scientific intelligence to maximize the profitability of bioprocesses in real time.
Developing a highly sensitive instrument through artificial intelligence
The company’s technological solutions work in two complementary ways: they measure and analyze in an automated manner and in real time. “We’ve created a highly sensitive instrument using mathematical algorithms that eliminate non-desirable elements that could be captured by the tool,” says Joël. “The data are extensively analyzed in real time and the results are immediately communicated to scientific staff and the decision makers in our user companies so that the right decisions are made at the right time.”
Besides using AI, this intelligent monitoring system makes it possible to predict the future performance of the cultures being analyzed. As a result, the process can be stopped at the right time, i.e. when the relationship between the efficiency level and development time reaches its peak. This ultimately makes the process much more profitable.
Expansion to the United States on the horizon
BioIntelligence Technologies has recently closed an important round of financing led by Real Ventures. “We met people from Real Ventures during the Espace CDPQ Bootcamp in 2018,” says Joël. “We’re very happy to be working with them since they’re well known for funding AI companies. This step is very important for us since it’s supporting our current expansion, which includes hiring many new employees and bringing our technology to the U.S. market.”
For the company’s president, the approach, which is based on process analysis, is poised to soon be commonplace in the bioprocessing industry since it is the key to profitability. With a team made up of bright scientists and support from its investors, BioIntelligence Technologies is well positioned to conquer this market and become a leader in Canada, the United States and Europe.
“Companies are living and dynamic organisms that are constantly evolving,” says Joël. “Until now, we’ve been able to surround ourselves with the right resources at the right time and have benefited from every experience. As a result, we’ve been able to fully devote ourselves to our mission, which is to contribute to humankind’s survival by accelerating sustainable development in the processing industry.”