Industrial biotechnology (known mainly as white biotechnology) is the application of biotechnology for industrial purposes, including industrial fermentation. It includes the practice of using cells such as microorganisms, or components of cells like enzymes, to generate industrially useful products in sectors such as chemicals, food and feed, detergents, paper and pulp, textiles and biofuels. In the current decades, significant progress has been done in creating genetically modified organisms (GMOs) that enhance the diversity of applications and economic viability of industrial biotechnology. By using renewable raw materials to produce a variety of chemicals and fuels, industrial biotechnology is actively advancing towards lowering greenhouse gas emissions and moving away from a petrochemical-based economy.

Industrial biotechnology is the modern use and application of  biotechnology  for  the  sustainable  processing  and  production  of  chemicals,  materials  and  fuels  from  renewable  sources,  using  living  cells  and/or  their  enzymes.  This  field  is  widely  regarded  as  the  third  wave  of  biotechnology,  distinct  from  the  first  two  waves  (medical  or  red  biotechnology and agricultural or green biotechnology). 

Biotechnological processing uses enzymes and microorganisms or plant/animal cells to make products in a wide range of industrial sectors including  chemicals,  pharmaceuticals,  food  &  feed,  detergents,  pulp  &  paper,  textiles,  energy,  materials and polymers. Much  interest  has  been  generated  in  industrial  biotechnology  mainly  because this field  is associated  with  reduced  energy  consumption,  greenhouse  gas  emissions  and  waste  generation,  and  may  enable  the  paradigm  shift  from  fossil  fuel-based  to  bio-based  production  of  value-added  chemicals. Raw  materials,  including  crops  and  organic  by-products  from  agricultural  sources  and  households  are  converted  into  sugars,  which  can  be  readily  converted  by  tailor-made  microorganisms  or  enzymes  into  the  desired  product.  The  fundamental  force  that  drives  the  development  and  implementation  of  industrial  biotechnology  is  the  market  economy,  as  biotechnology  promises  highly  efficient  processes at  lower  operating  and  capital  expenditures.  

Biochemical Engineering is another important discipline of industrial biotechnology.  It  deals  with  the  design  &  development  of  bioprocesses  and  equipment  for  the  manufacturing  of  bioproducts.  Biotechnological  processes  can  be  complex  and  difficult  to  control;  nevertheless,  they  obey  the  laws  of  chemistry  and  physics  and  therefore  amenable  to  engineering  analysis.  Therefore,  bioprocess  engineering  is  the  fusion  of  biological  knowledge  and  engineering  skills.  

Engineering aspects required in bioprocessing include design & operation of bioreactors, sterilizers and product recovery equipment; development of systems for process automation & control and layout of efficient as well as safe biotech industries.  The  study  on  the  optimization  of  yield  of  final  product  at  industrial  scale  as  well  as  maintenance  of  its  quality  also  comes  in  the  preview  of  bioprocess  engineering.

Political  and  societal  demands  for  sustainability  and  environment-friendly  industrial  production  systems,  coupled  with  depletion  of  crude  oil  reserves  and  a  growing  world  demand  for  raw  materials  and  energy  will  continue  to  drive  this  trend  forward.  Government policies including tax incentives, mandatory-use regulations, research & development, commercialization support, loan guarantees and agricultural feedstock support programs have also helped a lot to the adoption of industrial biotechnology. 

Having recognized the importance of industrial biotechnology for the accelerated growth of the country. Industrial Biotechnology Directorate is established in the Bio and Emerging Technology Institute to undertake research and development activities. Companies focusing on industrial biotechnology and bioeconomy are contributing towards achieving 11 out of 17 Global Sustainable Development Goals, enabling smarter and more efficient use of precious natural resources, developing renewable alternatives to traditional fossil-carbon products, helping to mitigate the impacts of climate change, reducing energy consumption and man-made emissions to soil, air, and water.

  • Enzyme Technology
  • Food and Nutrition
  • Biochemicals and Biomaterials
  • Supporting Research and Development 
  • Promoting Research Institute – Industry Partnership
  • Serving as Nodal Point for International Collaborations
  • Working on Human and Infrastructure Capacity Building 
  • Preparing Draft Policies and Strategies 
  • Transferring Developed, Adopted and adapted Technologies
  • Playing a Major Role in the Field of Industrial Biotechnology in Ethiopia

Thematic Areas

1. Enzyme Technology

  • Production of Enzymes for food processing
  • Isolation and production of Microbial strains
  • Production of Enzymes for textile application
  • Production of Enzymes for tannery production
  • Production of Enzymes for biofuel production
  • Production of Yeasts for various application

2. Food and Nutrition

  • Biofortification of staple crops
  • production of probiotics
  • production of dairy starter culture
  • Fermentation technology (brewing, wine making, 3bread) and bioreactors development
  • Biosensors and biomarkers for food quality assessment
  • Microbial production of food and ingredients
  • Food applications of algae

3. Biochemicals and Biomaterials

  • Production of agrochemicals
  • Production of additives and preservatives
  • Extraction, characterization and production of phytochemicals
  • Replacing plastic with biodegradable materials
  • Production of industrial biochemicals from wastes
  • Production of value added biotechnological products
  • Production of biomaterials for medical application


Name of ResearcherQualification/ FieldArea of research interest or Specialization email address
Fantahun W/SenbetPhDfantahun21[at]gmail.com
Firew TafessePhDf.tafesse80[at]gmail.com
Tekaligne AreguPhDtekisht[at]gmail.com
Yordanos AliMScyordismile[at]gmail.com
Wosenyelehe GetahunM.Techwosenget28[at]gmail.com
Lidya DamtewMScdamtew56[at]gmail.com
Meskerem ElfuMScmeskielfu[at]gmail.com
Zemenu AlmawMSczemen2004anchu[at]yahoo.com
Yenealem YilmaMScyenealemy[at]gmail.com
Neood YohannesBScneoodyohannes[at]gmail.com
Brook EsseyeStudy leavebrookesse[at]yahoo.com
Selamawit TadesseStudy leaveyeselamt[at]gmail.com
Yosef SisayStudy leaveyosephsisay2[at]gmail.com
Kidanemariam WagawStudy leavekidanwagaw[at]gmail.com
Gashaw MulukenStudy leavegasawtese[at]gmail.com
Elsa BeyeneStudy Leaveelsabeyene3[at]gmail.com
Eyosiyas HailuBSceyosi.58[at]gmail.com