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A Teesside research company that is developing innovative new uses for bacteria has been announced as a finalist in the IChemE Global Awards 2015.

Wilton Centre-based TeeGene Biotech has been shortlisted in the Best Business Start-Up category of the prestigious awards, which celebrate excellence, innovation and achievement in the chemical, process and biochemical industries.

Teegene Biotech, which is a spinout from Teesside University, is developing technologies for next generation biosurfactants and bioemulsifiers.

Dr Pattanathu Rahman, Director of TeeGene Biotech, explained the novel concept behind the company’s main research findings.

“Most people consider soap to be an effective means of removing bacteria from their skin. However, we have flipped this concept on its head by discovering a way to create soap from bacteria,” he said.

TeeGene Biotech has developed a way to create biosurfactants, which act like soap and help to emulsify different liquids, from strains of bacteria.

The biosurfactants created can be manufactured in a lab and are said to be fully biodegradable, with minimal impact on the environment. They have anti-microbial, anti-aging properties suitable for cosmetic products and biotherapeutics.

He added: “It’s a very exciting technology with tremendous potential for applications in a range of industries. Other uses include oil recovery, reducing pollution and food processing.

“We are delighted to be have been shortlisted in these distinguished awards and to have been given recognition for our progress so far.”

IChemE (Institution of Chemical Engineers) is the hub for chemical, biochemical and process engineering professionals worldwide.

With a growing global membership of 42,000, the Institution is at the heart of the process community, promoting competence and a commitment to best practice, advancing the discipline for the benefit of society, encouraging young people in science and engineering and supporting the professional development of its members.

Chemical, biochemical and process engineering is the application of science, maths and economics to the process of turning raw materials into everyday products.

Professional chemical engineers design, construct and manage process operations all over the world. Oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, food and drink, synthetic fibres and clean drinking water are just some of the products where chemical engineering plays a central role.

The overall winners of the IChemE Global Awards will be announced on 5 November 2015.

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