VIB and AB Biotek join forces to develop superior yeast strains for bioethanol production

Collaboration to meet global needs of bioethanol industry

AB Biotek, a division of Associated British Foods, has partnered with VIB, Flanders’ leading life sciences research institute, on research collaboration and the development of core inputs within the global bioethanol industry. ​ 

The primary research focused on the development of new yeast options, including strain screening for relevant traits, improvement through breeding, evaluation and selection of subsequent hybrids and testing, and ultimately commercialization of selected strains. 

This collaboration has taken place over many years, and to officially formalize our relationship with VIB’s excellent group of fermentation scientists is a significant measure. Our collective goal is to provide new, market-leading bioethanol yeast solutions, and having the opportunity to patent new technology with our partners is immensely rewarding. - John H. Evans, PhD, vice president of innovation – yeast, AB Biotek

Recent work under the Summit commercial brand name – conducted at both VIB’s facilities at KU Leuven, Belgium and the Fleischmann’s Technology Center within AB Biotek North America’s headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri – has focused on the selection of yeast strains within a collection of more than 500 under consideration across a wide range of previous end-use segments.

Our work with AB Biotek was very rewarding because it enabled us to exploit our joint expertise in fermentation technology and advanced yeast breeding to generate natural yeast variants that increase bioethanol yields, and as such helps us take a new step toward a more efficient production of sustainable bio-based fuels. - Kevin Verstrepen, PhD, head of the VIB-KU Leuven Center for Microbiology
Driving innovation in close collaboration with industry is an important mission of VIB. - Frederik Van Leemputte, PhD, Business Development Manager at VIB.

Joran Lauwers

Joran Lauwers

Science & Business Communications Expert, VIB

Steve Bers

Steve Bers

Science Communications Expert, VIB

About AB Biotek

AB Biotek contributes to the success of customers through the delivery of customized fermentation-based, sustainable solutions containing proprietary and/or purposefully sourced microorganisms to create differentiated food, beverage, health & nutrition business opportunities. ​ Science and advanced microorganism fermentation technology are core enablers. ​ AB Biotek has commercial scale production and research development facilities located around the world. ​ For more information about our product applications and unmatched technical service capabilities, please visit or

About the VIB-KU Leuven Center for Microbiology

The big impact of bacteria on our health, the use of yeasts to enhance the production of chocolate, beer or bioethanol, yeast as a model system for studying human disease ... these are just a few of the research areas for the scientists at the VIB-KU Leuven Center for Microbiology. Their research also has important implications in various fields of application.

About KU Leuven

KU Leuven is Europe’s most innovative university (Reuters) and ranks 45th in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings. As Belgium's largest university, KU Leuven welcomes 60,000 students from over 140 countries. Its 7,000 researchers are active in a comprehensive range of disciplines. KU Leuven is a founding member of the League of European Research Universities (LERU) and has a strong European and international orientation. University Hospitals Leuven, its network of research hospitals, provides high-quality healthcare and develops new therapeutic and diagnostic insights with an emphasis on translational research.

About VIB

VIB’s core mission is to generate disruptive insights in the molecular underpinning of life and to translate these actively into impactful innovations for patients and society. VIB is an independent research institute where some 1,800 top scientists from Belgium and abroad conduct pioneering basic research. As such, they are pushing the boundaries of what we know about molecular mechanisms and how they rule living organisms such as human beings, animals, plants, and microorganisms. Based on a close partnership with five Flemish universities – Ghent University, KU Leuven, University of Antwerp, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, and Hasselt University – and supported by a solid funding program, VIB unites the expertise of all its collaborators and research groups in a single institute. VIB’s technology transfer activities translate research results into concrete benefits for society such as new diagnostics and therapies and agricultural innovations. These applications are often developed by young start-ups from VIB or through collaborations with other companies. This also leads to additional employment and bridges the gap between scientific research and entrepreneurship. VIB also engages actively in the public debate on biotechnology by developing and disseminating a wide range of science-based information. 

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