If you want to produce vital nutrients from grain, or fuel from organic waste, or plastic bags from regrowing resources, the one thing you need is bacteria. Over millions of years, they have learned how to produce new substances from various carbon compounds. But which bacteria possess which desired properties? The method devised by Stephan Binder and Georg Schaumann can answer that question quickly: The team from the Jülich Research Centre enhanced different strains of bacteria with fluorescent proteins – these are most active whenever the desired product is being metabolized in large quantities. “Developing highly productive strains used to take five to ten years,” says Schaumann, “we can do it in one or two.” The researchers have already shown that their approach works for four different amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. These are important as raw materials for the food industry. In April last year, Binder and Schaumann received 2.5 million Euros from the German Federal Ministry of Research. Now they can show that their “SenseUp” technology doesn’t only work with amino acids - and can be brought to the market. But the couple have little doubt: The foundation of their own company is already scheduled.