Microbial Discovery Group expanding bacteria production space

Microbial Discovery Group LLC
5200 W. Ashland Way, Franklin
Industry: Microbial research and production
Employees: 20
www.mdgbio.com

Michael King founded Microbial Discovery Group LLC in 2007 to research and develop custom fermentation products for its customers. Eventually, the company created its own product lines to provide solutions in global wastewater treatment and food production.

MDG isolates novel microbial strains that solve environmental concerns and completes large-scale manufacturing of environmentally-safe microbials for commercial applications.

“Along the way, you start realizing you have a mission,” King said. “Our mission is to clean the world, feed the world, save the world.”

The world population is outgrowing what agriculture can produce, and some of MDG’s microbial products can help draw more yield from animals and crops, said King, chief executive officer.

A bacteria solution is tested in a small-scale fermentation process.

King also sees opportunity for growth in solving wastewater problems, particularly in developing countries where waste can get into waterways and cause illness.

“Every 21 seconds, a child dies from these water-related diseases,” King said. “We’re finding bacteria that can control certain waterborne diseases.”

Microbial Discovery Group has been growing as its microbial strains have proven useful in a variety of applications, and the company recently expanded within its Franklin facility to meet the demand.

The $500,000 expansion included a 3,500-square-foot addition of laboratory and office space and a renovation of 2,500 square feet of existing office space. The facility also has another 14,000 square feet of space where fermentation production takes place, and is renting 4,000 square feet of space to handle product overflow.

The large fermentation tank and system used for bacteria production.

The additional space and new equipment will allow the company to accelerate its rate of technology development in the fields of microbiology and molecular biology discovery.

MDG has added two microbiologists, an administrator and additional interns in the expanded space. It is also in the process of hiring two scientists, a production manager and a regulatory/international registration specialist. MDG plans to add 40 percent more staff over the next couple of years, according to King. The company currently has 20 employees.

One challenge the company has had is explaining its complex products and making them scalable, he said. For example, there are 250,000 wastewater plants around the world that are potential MDG customers.

“One of the hardest things in this business is trying to get a bunch of scientists to sit around and make things simpler,” King said.

Scientists at MDG first isolate the “bad” bacteria that causes problems like waterborne illnesses, then uses that information to develop “good” bacteria that will eliminate the problem bacteria. It has developed an extensive library of bacteria solutions.

With the expansion, MDG now has one “bad” and one “good” bacteria lab. After isolating the microbial strains in one lab, the other lab develops a custom fermentation medium through a testing and small-scale fermentation process.

After the right strain of “good” bacteria has been developed, large scale fermentation can take place in the company’s 100-gallon tank.

In many cases, MDG’s bacteria is then made into a powder for easy shipping through a centrifugation, freeze-drying and grinding process.

MDG sets itself apart from the 600 or more companies selling its type of products in the marketplace by offering applied research. It both researches and manufactures the microbial strains, saving customers time in the development process, King said.

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