Revolutionizing the way chemicals are produced in the industry: that’s what HoliZyme aims to do. With their platform technology for the application of enzymes, the TU Delft spin-off combines the world of chemistry, biology, and computational engineering. CEO and co-founder Hugo Brasselet talks about their journey so far.
HoliZyme develops a platform technology that enables users – R&D in chemistry – to apply enzymes as efficiently as possible in the industry to produce chemicals. “Enzymes are basically proteins that can catalyze chemical reactions. Currently, we use one family of enzymes – peroxygenases – with which we can create high-value chemicals. The goal is to provide the industry with an alternative way of making chemical processes – more efficient and sustainable – and give access to new chemicals.”
Predicting combinations of enzymes
So how does HoliZyme want to achieve this improvement in efficiency? “We’re experts in the use of peroxygenases. Despite the fact that this enzyme family is active, stable, and has a huge potential for applications, there is no specialized company in this field and – so far – no industrial application. We want to be the first ones to do it. We are organized into two parts: the “WetLab”, where we are able to perform enzymatic reactions, and the so-called “DryLab”, our software platform, which we use to have a new and unbiased look at the chemical conversions. That way, you don’t have to test all combinations of enzyme and substrate couples to get the desired results, so you can save time and money in the WetLab. We believe that we can create a paradigm shift with our innovation.”
The computational engineering aspect is HoliZyme’s unique selling point. “We needed to have the computational pillar in our company. Because how else can you, while dealing with a lot of data and repetitive tasks, start a business in the 21st century? We wanted to integrate it from the get-go. When doing research, you collect so much data, but usually, it ends up in a notebook. That’s why we wanted to store it properly so we could use it better. Every good data is usable data. As soon as you have that data, it can prove to be super valuable.” The combination of different specializations – chemistry, biology, and computational engineering – is HoliZyme’s strength. That’s also reflected in their name, in which ‘Holi’ stands for ‘holistic’. Hugo: “We provide a complete view of chemical reactions.”
Growing the technology and business
HoliZyme received a TTT ticket to get their business started. “That allowed us to get into the startup ecosystem,” says Hugo. “We were able to make a lot of new connections with people from the industry, and we also acquired data for one industrial application that will help us on our way. Ultimately, we’re a research company with one foot in the industry. We currently have a team of three people, but soon we’ll hire two interns to push the technological development forward. That’s also why we want to apply for a second-round TTT ticket. Hopefully, that will help us to grow our business so that in five years, we have a company of twenty or more employees, with a new technology for multiple enzyme families that we can apply in different industries.”