Hamburg Metropolitan Region

Galab Laboratories growing amid innovation

3 July 2024
Laboratory in Bergedorf produces natural breast milk sugar

Breast milk is a unique and irreplaceable source of nutrition for infants and young children. Despite extensive research into its ingredients, an artificial substitute remains “too complex and expensive”, according to Jürgen Kuballa, Managing Director of Galab.

Powdered milk formula 

Founded in 1992 in Geesthacht in the Hamburg Metropolitan Region, the company subsequently relocated to Bergedorf. There, Galab has successfully researched a powdered milk formula that closely resembles breast milk. The 250-strong workforce evaluates a whole range of foods including the ingredients of milk from all over the world. The company also has branches in China, India, Singapore, Turkey, Spain, Ukraine and Peru and its own biotechnology division. This is the location of the project funded by the Hamburgische Investitions- und Förderbank (IFB Hamburg). "We use fermentation to convert ordinary sugar into breast milk sugar," said Kuballa. The product is a prebiotic, which boosts the growth and activity of "good" intestinal bacteria. "They are incredibly important for the development of healthy intestinal flora," he added. Prebiotics are used in both human and animal nutrition and in medicine. However, they hold both risks and opportunities.

Co-operation with TU Hamburg

"The co-operation with the Institute of Bioprocess and Biosystems Engineering (IBB) at the Technical University of Hamburg and the Dr Schoop engineering proved highly beneficial," said Kuballa. The IBB focuses mainly on developing bioreactors as well as control and regulation concepts. "Knowledge transfer is the key to success. It is essential that universities continue to gain knowledge. Projects like this help," said Kuballa. This collaboration has paved the way to further cooperation in other fields. Several patents have been registered as a result of the project and a demonstrator has been created that successfully produces milk oligosaccharides, i.e., indigestible sugar molecules. Galab is now aiming to scale up the production of breast milk sugar on an industrial scale. "We continue to invest to achieve market maturity. The market is vast, especially in Asia, and we have developed a technology that is not easily replicated."

Sources and further information

IFB Hamburg

The Hamburgische Investitions- und Förderbank (IFB Hamburg) is the main development bank in Hamburg. It specialises in housing and urban development and as well as stimulating business, innovation and the environment. On behalf of the state, it grants loans, subsidies and equity investments and provides security for investment projects across Hamburg.

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