Biotechnical faculty, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia

Professor, Head of Biotechnology group (Chair of Biotechnology, microbiology and food safety)

Jamnikarjeva 101, 1000, Ljubljana, Slovenija




Background and expertise of the representative

Hrvoje Petkovićholds a position of regular professor of microbial biotechnology at the Biotechnical Faculty, University of Ljubljana. He completed his PhD at University of Strathclyde (Glasgow, Scotland), followed by postdoctoral position at Biotica (Cambridge, UK). He has around 30 years of experience in microbial biotechnology, metabolic and biosynthetic engineering and drug discovery. His expertise extends to the industrial strain improvement, process development, expertise in secondary metabolite gene regulation, and drug development mostly focused on actinomycetes hosts producing medically important drugs. He led research groups and developed industrial processes, which have been implemented at industrial scale. Dr. Petković has been working for and collaborating with a larger number of pharmaceutical companies and specialized biotechnology companies worldwide (e.g. Lonza, Sandoz, Novartis, GSK, Krka Pharmaceuticals, Ljubljanske mlekarne [Lactalis group], Galapagos, Biotica Ltd, Gadea, Medis etc. in Europe, and number of companies in China and India, e.g. Acebright, Desano, BIOK, Datong, Dr. Reddys, Biocon). Dr. Petković is also co-founder of successful University of Ljubljana spin-of Acies Bio Ltd. (Ljubljana), which today employs over 50 researchers. Dr. Petković has led number of national, EU and industrially funded projects. He has extensive experience in project and IP management. Dr. Petković is teaching at Biotechnical Faculty, Study of Biotechnology and Microbiology, at undergraduate and postgraduate level. He was mentor to 8 PhD students and is currently supervising 3 PhD student. He has supervised a number of MSc and BSC diploma work students. He has received a number of awards for academic and industrial achievements. He is author of a number of high-impact scientific publications and number of EU and USA granted patents. The most important scientific achievements of Petković relate to the development of commercial biosynthetic processes for production of secondary metabolites (including antibiotics) and development of novel antibiotic drug leads through application of biosynthetic and metabolic engineering approaches in combination with semi-synthetic efforts.

Organisation profile

Biotechnical Faculty (BF), University of Ljubljana is a leading national higher education and research institution in the field of applied life sciences. University of Ljubljana is the oldest and largest higher education and scientific research institution in Slovenia, founded in 1919. It has more than 40.000 undergraduate and postgraduate students and employs approximately 5.600 higher education teachers, researchers, assistants and administrative staff in 23 faculties and 3 arts academies, and BF is one of the larges faculties employing over 500 teachers and researchers. The fundamental mission of the Biotechnical Faculty is the education at university, higher professional and postgraduate levels, scientific research, professional and advisory work in the field of life sciences (biology, microbiology) and agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors (forestry, livestock, agronomy) and related production technologies (wood, food processing, biotechnology). BF consists of 7 departments. Scientific research work at the BF comprises the basic scientific fields of agronomy, biology, biotechnology, genetics, forestry, landscaping, wood technology, microbiology, natural heritage protection, animal science and food technology.

Research work at the BF is organized in 22 research programs and 47 research groups. At Biotechnology group (Led by prof. Petković), Chair of biotechnology, microbiology and food safety, we have a strong track record in developing industrial bioprocesses and high-producing strains for antibiotic and other secondary metabolite production, as exemplified by IP and high-impact scientific publications, mostly carried out in collaboration with local and foreign pharmaceutical, chemical and biotech industries. The group at Biotechnical Faculty is particularly focused in metabolic engineering efforts, construction of engineered strains of Streptomyces spp. and development of powerful industrial biosynthetic processes for construction of novel secondary metabolites. Thus, one of the main efforts of the Biotechnology group is in the development of biosynthetic processes or novel antibiotic drug-lead by application of biosynthetic or metabolic engineering approaches.

Contribution to the network

Hrvoje Petković is leading the Biotechnology group at the Biotechnical faculty, University of Ljubljana, which is focussed mostly on the development of industrial bioprocesses for production of diverse metabolites with emphasis on anti-infective drugs. Considering that most antibiotics used in the clinic today are originating from natural products or semi-synthetic derivatives, the process of their development with the aim of producing sufficient amount of target metabolites is of critical importance. Insufficient amount of the target metabolite, or analogue produced during the fermentation is often a main bottleneck in the development of the promising antibiotics through early stages of drug discovery. Insufficient amount of the target metabolite or sufficient purity becomes even a greater issue in the pre-clinical and early stages of clinical evaluation. Therefore, strain improvement and process development efforts for efficient production of target antibiotics is of critical importance. Prof. Petković led in the past numerous projects of strain improvement and process development at industrial environment, such as development of antibiotics salinomycin, monensin, erythromycin, oxytetracycline, bacitracin, tylosin belonging to generic products, as well as a number of novel analogues produced through biosynthetic engineering efforts. The laboratories of Biotechnology group are equipped with modern molecular biology as well as microbiology, strain improvement and process development facilities with fermenters from 3l to 20L scale, and appropriate analytical equipment such as HPLC, UPLC and MS. This kind expertise will be offered to partners on network.