Microbial fermentation pilot plant research facility

Hosted by the Human Health Therapeutics Research Centre as an R&D pilot plant, this NRC facility offers flexibility, versatility and a broad range of equipment to rapidly convert laboratory results into industrial processes up to the 1500 L scale. While our research centre works with firms of all sizes, these resources make us an especially attractive partner for small and medium entreprises (SMEs) that have limited capacity to invest in pilot-scale facilities compatible with current good manufacturing practices (cGMP).

Our capabilities

The microbial fermentation pilot plant is home to a multidisciplinary team of microbiologists, engineers, chemists and biochemists attuned to the biotechnology industry's needs. They take special care to design bioprocesses that can be smoothly transferred to industrial settings.

Areas of expertise include molecular biology, microbial physiology, bioprocess development, optimization and scale-up, primary recovery and extensive product purification, endotoxin removal, process control and biomonitoring, and production of good laboratory practices quality material.


  • Genome engineering and selection of recombinant bacteria (Escherichia coli, Methylobacterium extorquens, Corynebacterium glutamicum, Lactobacillus, Lactococcus) and yeast strains (Pichia, Saccharomyces)
  • Genomics (whole genome sequencing, assembly and analysis) and transcriptomics of bacteria and yeast
  • Design recombinant expression systems specifically adapted to each product (including different microbial or derived mutant host strains and specialized expression vectors)
  • Production of peptides, proteins, nutraceuticals, organic acids, polymers, and probiotics
  • Preparation of Research, Master and Working cell banks
  • Bioprocess optimization of BSL-1 and 2 micro-organisms
  • Scale-up to 1500 L
  • Handling of methanol-oxidizing microorganisms
  • Testing of new monitoring/control equipment and reagents
  • Purification and analytical services to support bioprocessing operations
  • Technical and scientific guidance
  • General or specialized training
  • Documentation tailored to needs
  • Fermentation training

Facility characteristics

  • Molecular biology laboratory
  • CL-1 pilot plant with bioreactors up to 1500 L
  • CL-2 laboratories with bioreactors up to 150 L
  • CL-3 facility for cultivation of pathogens with bioreactors up to 30 L
  • Various equipment for primary recovery, cell breakage and initial product capture
  • Laboratories and equipment for small- and pilot-scale product purification
  • Micro- and small-scale parallel bioreactors for rapid process optimization
  • Analytical laboratories for process monitoring and product characterization

Why work with us

For more than 25 years, the NRC's microbial fermentation pilot plant has provided multi-disciplinary expertise in the development, optimization and scale-up of microbial fermentation processes, as well as the primary recovery, purification and characterization of microbial products.

The biotechnology industry and the research community routinely use our facility to:

  • produce preclinical material and research reagents
  • obtain engineering data on process performance
  • develop emerging processes into ones of use to industry
  • purify sizeable quantities of biotechnology products
  • train personnel in a semi-industrial setting