NCKU's Microalgal DHA Production Technology Transferred to VEDAN

NCKU President, Academician Michael Ming-Chiao Lai, signed Technology Transfer Agreement in this morning with Mr. Tou-Hsiung Yang, Chairman of Vedan International (Holding) Ltd, witnessed by Vedan Biotechnology President Shih-An (Raymond) Yang and the inventor, Prof. Huey-Lang Yang of the NCKU Institute of Biotechnology. This agreement marks a successful transfer of NCKU's microalgal DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) production technology, developed by Prof. Yang's Aquatic Animal Bio-Medicine R&D Team (AABM Team), to Vedan Biotechnology, a subsidiary company of Vedan International.

President Lai commented that the collaboration between NCKU and Vedan is a good example of industry-academia cooperation. President Lai also praised that Prof. Yang has not only made breakthroughs in aquiculture and biotechnology industry and great contributions to ecology and human health, but also demonstrated his great creativity in producing DHA from microalgae, instead of fishes and marine animals. President Lai also shared his joy with press that Prof. Yang had recently been recognized for his excellent contribution to aquiculture and presented with the award - "2009 TWAS Prize in the Agricultural Sciences" from The Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS) supported by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). It is certainly a great honor for NCKU.

Chairman Tou-Hsiung Yang felt very excited to have speedy development in cooperation with NCKU for the first time. He also highly commended the research capability of NCKU's AABM Team, especially on the rapid isolation of indigenous DHA producing microalgae "BL 10" and associative research development on DHA production. Chairman Yang promised to successfully marketing the BL 10 produced DHA with Vedan's 46 years of marketing experience in biotechnical products. Chairman Yang indicated that Vedan is always looking forward to having more opportunities in collaboration with NCKU in the future.

Prof. Huey-Lang Yang commented that docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a carboxylic acid with a 22-carbon chain, is commonly known as a kind of fish oil (Omega 3 DHA). DHA is essential to humans, for example, in brain health and prevention of cardiovascular disease, etc. However, our body could not produce any DHA even though it is so much needed. Hence, DHA must be derived from other sources, such as fishes and marine mammals. Indeed, DHA is not excreted in these fishes and marine mammals. Instead, DHA is largely produced by microalgaes and concentrated in the fishes and marine animals through food chains. Unfortunately, trace of toxins, such as methyl mercury or dioxins, are conjointly present with DHA through food chains as well.

DHA is an important nutrient for growth and development of human, animal and fish from youth to elder. DHA does not only improve the growth of babies and young child's brain, retinal development, but also prevents cardiovascular disease, depression, Alzheimer's disease and other chronic diseases. Therefore, a successful research on DHA-rich microalgae by Dr. I-Min Chen, an Assistant Professor of NCKU and co-investigator of research project on "DHA producing microalgae strain - BL 10" has pounded great significance to the development of human health and medicine. As getting scarcer and scarcer in ocean fishes and marine animals, a conventional supply of DHA, an invention in a new source of DHA is important not only to ecological conservation of ocean, but also to supply a large number of vegetarian ethnic foods by algae from the plant.

Moreover, in the conventional extraction and fermentation method of DHA from fish oils, a risk in mercury or other chemical pollutants is somewhat difficult to be avoided, as well as provision of clean and pollution free DHA is hard to be achieved. This new discovery from DHA-rich microalgae definitely improves the quality of health food products and the health of all people; moreover it will be absolutely the best substitutes of fish oil in the future.

In addition, The AABM Team has won the Best Poster Award with topic "Isolation and characterization of Taiwanese Thraustochytrid species: screening of strains for docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) production" in the conference of Aquaculture Europe, September, 2008. This is the first time to receive the award of Aquatic Bio-tech research area in Taiwan. "Indeed, the contamination, such as alkyl mercury and dioxins, commonly found with DHA production stimulated us to search for new ways to produce DHA", said Prof. Chen.

Recently, to cope with the drastic changes that are taking place in the global economy and enhance Taiwan's industrial development, Taiwan government announced a plan to make a budget of NT$ 42 billions to develop medicine and health care, biotechnology industry, through a special program as "Diamond Action Plan for Biotech Takeoff". That is, the biotechnology and heath care related industry have become more and more important emerging industries in the world.

About Vedan

For half a century, Vedan has been dedicated to research and development in fermentation technology. Determined to achieve perfection and willing to take an innovative approach, Vedan has established itself as the leader in the Taiwanese amino acid industry. As a world-class producer of glutamic acid, Vedan seeks beneficial applications of microorganisms for human beings, setting an example for the biotechnology industry in Asia Pacific.

Vedan utilizes sophisticated and advanced microbial fermentation technology to manufacture its amino acid/amino acid-based products for the global market. With a motto that promotes global competitiveness in the fermentation industry, Vedan is devoted to researching and developing the best products that meet the need of health-conscious customers who demand top quality.

In 1954, Mr. Sheng-Po Yang, founder of Vedan, brought in his brothers and established Ve Cheng Food in Taichung County, Taiwan. In 1960, the company utilized microbial fermentation technology to produce glutamic acid products, converting sugar cane molasses into monosodium glutamate. This glutamic acid fermentation process was not only a breakthrough technology but also received a patent from the Central Standards Bureau of the Ministry of Economy. Vedan was officially launched in 1970.

Equipped with advanced production facilities, such as several automated concentration MVRs and some of the largest fermentation tanks (700MT) in the world, Vedan has an annual production capacity of glutamic acid and monosodium glutamate products that reaches 120,000 metric tons, catering to the needs of customers from all levels. Vedan has the No.1 monosodium glutamate production volume in Taiwan, with products under the brand names of Vedan, Ve Cheng, Veyo, and Tung Hai. On top of that, Vedan's Vietnam plant alone has the largest monosodium glutamate production capacity in the world. The impressive production capacity has generated massive sales volume and has maintained Vedan's status as the global leader in the industry.

In November 2003, Vedan won a gold medal in the biotechnology category (2003 National Bio & Medical Care Quality Award), followed by a group award (7th Annual Outstanding Bio Technology Industry Development Award) in December 2003. As demonstrated in its tightly integrated business management, innovative product research/development, microbiological fermentation applications, cost-effectiveness, and environmental awareness, Vedan has been widely recognized in the industry. We focus on developing core competence when it comes to enhancing competitiveness, and serve as a strong base for future development in biotechnology.

Vedan focuses on developing, manufacturing and marketing its micro-algae products, as well as its nutritional supplements and health food products. Our professional microorganisms' cultivation technology, fermentation technology, modernized process technology and strictly practiced quality assurance systems enhance the competitiveness of our products. In addition, we develop and market multi-ingredient nutritional supplements and health food with synergetic health effects, in order to expand our market share and customer base.

Vedan has formed strategic alliances and technology partnerships with several recognized biotechnology vendors, such as Kyowa Hakko Kogyo and Takeda in Japan, and O'soin Corporation in France. Consequently, Vedan has earned a place in international platform, establishing itself as a multi-national biochemistry and food technology enterprise.

With domestic and offshore patents in fermentation technology, enzyme/microbial technology, starch transformation technology, and chemistry/electrolysis chemistry technology, Vedan's highly professional production processes are certified by the meticulous quality control procedures of ISO-9002, as well as Food GMP.

In 1991, Vedan set up an advanced plant in Vietnam, with facilities that contained power, disposal processing, water purification, and private harbor equipment, to ensure a stable production and a steady water/electricity supply. This has created a solid manufacturing infrastructure for Vedan.

In 1992 and 1996, respectively, Vedan extended its presence further by setting up plants in Shanghai and in Xiamen. In June, 2003, Vedan went IPO as Vedan International Limited Co. on the main board of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Through large-scale strategic investment in Vietnam and China, Vedan has established a regional production base where labor and materials bring business advantage.

About Prof. Huey-Lang Yang

Prof. Yang received his Ph.D of Bacteriology from University of California at Davis (1972). He served as the Director of Institute of biotechnology, NCKU; the Associate Director of Center of Biotechnology, NCKU; the Research Fellow of Institute of Bio-agricultural Sciences, Academia Sinica; the Adjunct professor of National Taiwan University (NTU); the Director of Division of Molecular Biology , Development Center for Biotechnology; the Visiting professor of National Yang-Ming University (NYMU); the Managing Director of Research and Development, ENZO Diagnostics Inc.; the Director of Recombinant DNA / Microbiology, ENZO Biochem, Inc.; the Associate of Dept. of Genetics, The Public Health Research Institute in the City of New York; the Adjunct Assistant professor of New York University, School of Medicine, and the Senior Research Associate of Dept. of Biological Sciences, Columbia University.

Prof. Yang has received many awards including "NIH Technique Ad Hoc committee for SBIR grant" (1986, 1987); "Executive Yuan Honored Outstanding Applied Sciences and Technology Award" (1992); "Young Inventor Award: Bronze Award" operated by Hewlett Parker & Far Eastern Economic Review (2002); "Academia-Industry Collaborations Award" by Ministry of Education (MOE) (2003); "KT Li Honorary Scholar Award" (2006); "National Innovation Award"(2007); directed his students to receive a golden medal of "2008 Crazy Idea -- King of Practical Applications on Creative Researches and Development of Biotechnology"; "Aquaculture Europe 08 Best Poster Award"; a bronze medal of "2009 Crazy Idea -- King of Practical Applications on Creative Researches and Development of Biotechnology".

Prof. Yang is professional at biotechnology, vaccine, and diagnostics with the main research in warmwater fishes bio-medicine. There are three directions of the research. First is to use a new technological breakthrough science and technology research and development of aquaculture in China and Southeast Asia, and upgrade domestic aquaculture industries. Second is to develop Nervous Necrosis Virus (NNV) from grouper with the research in Epinephelus Immunology, viral pathogenesis, and pathogen-host interaction. The last one is develop the innovative vaccine technology, testing and vaccine product.

About NCKU Technology Licensing & Business Incubation Center (NCKU TLBIC)

National Cheng Kung University Technology Licensing & Business Incubation Center (NCKU TLBIC) was founded on August 1, 2007. It was merged from original Technology Licensing Center and original Business Incubation Center. It has been recruiting several experienced experts to strength functions and services such as Technology transfer/licensing, start-up business/incubation, and Industry-academia collaboration or school-to-work program.

The original Technology Licensing Center was established in October 2000, delegating grant research outcomes to universities in line with Science & Technology Basic Law. It has been the single contact window of managing and applying intellectual properties in NCKU. The Original Business Incubation Center was established in December 1997, subsidized by Small & Median Enterprise Administration. It is based on joint R&D with tenant companies and then extended to business development-related services.

Realizing the importance of collaboration between industry and school, Ministry of Education (MOE) vigorously promotes "Three-year effectiveness plan on urging collaboration between industry and school". The plan is intended to build up an organic cooperation between industry and academia by assisting schools setting up comprehensive mechanisms. Having plentiful R&D capacity and strong foundation of industry-academia collaboration, NCKU is honored to receive the encouraging reward from MOE for the year 2008. In order to utilize government resources effectively, the center hired a senior manager with profound experiences in top 100 enterprises as CEO and formed a professional team to manage NCKU R&D outcomes and intellectual property. The center will also establish a network by setting up strategic alliances with important entities inside and outside NCKU. By doing this way, we can expect to increase interaction and create synergy between industry and academia.

About National Cheng Kung University (NCKU):

NCKU is located in the ancient city of Tainan, the historical and ancient cultural capital city of Taiwan, which boasts more than 50 national relics sanctioned by the government and is approximately 250 kilometers south of Taipei. It is connected to all major cities in Taiwan by the recently initiated state-of-the-art Taiwan High Speed Rail. Further, this historical heritage is the pride of Tainan City and represents a rich cultural resource to NCKU. The technological sectors in the Southern Taiwan Science Park offer students at NCKU with a stage to apply what they have learned into practice.

With three quarters of a century of distinguished history, with well over 130,000 powerful alumni now dotting the globe, many have achieved supreme successes in arts, business, education, science, technology and healthcare and are ready and willing to assist the 22,000 academic selective students and 1200 academic faculty members. Currently, both have an international flavor, with enormous regional support, and there is a permeating culture of proactive intellectual growth on the world's stage NCKU in Tainan, Taiwan, has evolved from its engineering genesis into a powerful and comprehensive research international university in the Asia Pacific.

Since NCKU's establishment in 1931, it has developed into a research intensive and comprehensive university with integrated academic fields in nine colleges: Liberal Arts, Sciences, Engineering, Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, Planning & Design, Management, Social Sciences, Medicine, and Bioscience & Biotechnology. NCKU currently offers 40 undergraduate programs (excluding the Program of Bachelor's Degree), 78 master's degree programs, 54 doctoral programs and 20 master's degree programs for working professionals.

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