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Photo Courtesy of Noblegen (Solar Biotech Canada)

Noblegen's Acquisition By Solar Biotech Bolsters Hope For Partnership With Trent's Cleantech Commons

Written by
Sebastian Johnston-Lindsay
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July 27, 2023
Noblegen's Acquisition By Solar Biotech Bolsters Hope For Partnership With Trent's Cleantech Commons
Photo Courtesy of Noblegen (Solar Biotech Canada)

Noblegen, the Peterborough biotechnology company founded by Adam Noble, was acquired by Solar Biotech on July 25th in a move which will see Noble become the Chief Visionary Officer of Solar Biotech. Henceforth, Noblegen will operate under the name Solar Biotech Canada.

In his new role, Noble will be primarily responsible for securing government funding and private investments.

“This acquisition represents an exciting new phase for our company within Canada and across North America. With this strategic move, we aim to further accelerate our research and development efforts, focusing on groundbreaking innovations that align with Cleantech Commons' mission of sustainable technology advancement,” Noble stated in an email to Arthur.

Noblegen has been touted for some time as a cornerstone of Trent University’s long-planned green technology research and innovation park known as Cleantech Commons. According to a Master Plan document from 2017, Noblegen’s facilities were set to take up nearly five hectares of the 85 acre city-serviced land on Pioneer Road adjacent to Trent’s Symons Campus.

Map from 2017 Cleantech Commons Master Plan Document.

Since that time, statements from both Noble and Trent University have remained optimistic that Noblegen would eventually become part of Cleantech Commons and would serve to attract other companies to become tenants once it is eventually built.

Solar Biotech Canada currently leases space in Trent’s DNA building and operates a GEN1 facility in downtown Peterborough, both of which are set to remain in use according to an email from Trent’s Communications department. 

In the email, Trent wrote that “the new venture will continue to employ several Trent alumni and graduate students. As part of its growth strategy, Solar Biotech Canada, is planning a GEN2 facility and exploring tenancy at Cleantech Commons.”

Trent did not specify how many students and alumni are employed.  

Meanwhile, according to a news release by Trent, the GEN2 facility will have a fermentation capacity of two million litres, which represents an increase of over 10 times over their current 160,000 litre capacity.  

The plan for the GEN2 facility and continued intention to explore becoming a Cleantech tenant was later confirmed by Noble.  

Reached for comment shortly after the acquisition was announced, Noble wrote to Arthur that he continues to see “tremendous potential in combining our expertise with Cleantech Commons at Trent University, creating opportunities for synergistic growth and impactful advancements in the cleantech space.”    

Given the nature of its funding money and research intensive work, Noblegen has yet to make money over the course of its 10 years of existence. This led to the temporary lay-off of an unconfirmed number of staff in March of 2022, a move which was made permanent in October of the same year. 

However, based on statements by Mark Iliopoulos, vice president of corporate operations and finance, the company plans to increase its staff by three times before the end of 2024 according to an Examiner report.

The acquisition reportedly comes following about a year of negotiations after Noblegen began to recognize the value in partnering with international companies who could use their fermentation chambers for bioprocessing.

Alex Berlin, CEO of Solar Biotech, characterized the acquition as “a significant step forward for Solar Biotech and its industrial partners since it immediately brings online much-needed capacity and expertise in the biomanufacturing industry.”

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