Genomatica Magica – $90 Million Financing, Commercialized Technologies, Biobased Nylon : Biofuels Digest

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Bioengineering…it doesn’t sound very magical but it is full of mystery and potential waiting to be unlocked, much like Harry Potter’s character. In the early books and movies, Harry is young, mysterious, smart, and you just know he is capable of something great and destined for amazing things. We feel the same about bioengineering and Genomatica and their biobased process technologies, especially with the latest $90 million equity offering.

Genomatica’s latest magical maneuver with the $90 million in equity offering will help strengthen its balance sheet to fully execute on its business plan and fuel new growth opportunities. Just as Harry Potter got stronger and stronger and his potential began to turn into realized power, Genomatica is proving its strength and expanding its impact even more.

Playing the supporting roles of Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley, and Rubeus Hagrid who were there when Harry needed them most, Genomatica’s investors include new lead investor Casdin Capital, returning investor Viking Global Investors, which continues as Genomatica’s largest shareholder, and organism engineering partner Ginkgo Bioworks. Genomatica also announced it is expanding its relationship with Ginkgo to accelerate biotechnology innovations for widely-used chemicals, so it’s probably a safe bet to call Ginkgo the Ron Weasley of the group as they stand side-by-side with Genomatica like a best friend does.

Genomatica, Ginkgo and Gryffindor

Genomatica and Ginkgo would definitely be on the Hogwarts’ Griffyndor team together as they strive to further accelerate the pace of Genomatica’s innovations and have strengthened their technology collaboration, which began in 2016. Ginkgo will now provide expanded access to their foundry capabilities and services, while increasing its equity stake in Genomatica. As a result, Genomatica is better positioned to expand its product lines and grow its impact on making everyday products more sustainable.

“Genomatica has delivered high-volume bio-based chemicals to market at costs competitive with petrochemical production, not just once but multiple times,” said Jason Kelly, CEO of Ginkgo Bioworks. “We’re doubling down on renewable chemicals through our close relationship with Genomatica – and we’re honored to continue to partner with the best in the market.”

The magic behind Genomatica

The magic is all about the technologies and the fact that they are commercial technologies that impact everyday plastics and personal care products. Not to mention their new technologies under development that target textiles and fibers.

Much like Albus Dumbledore wisely saw Harry’s potential, Casdin Capital is wisely seeing Genomatica’s potential growth. “Biotechnology promises to enable the chemical industry in remarkable ways. That said, only businesses with strong fundamentals and commercial products will be successful,” said Eli Casdin, Chief Investment Officer of Casdin Capital. “Genomatica is one of the few companies with that profile and fresh capital now enables them to grow that position substantially.”

The company has delivered two commercial processes. The first, for biobased 1,4-butanediol (BDO) is an ingredient in the production of millions of biodegradable, compostable plastic bags, coffee capsules and food packaging. Genomatica’s GENO BDO process has made tens of thousands of tons of biobased BDO at Novamont’s $110M production plant since late 2016.

The second process, for biobased Brontide butylene glycol, is being used to make a range of more natural cosmetic and personal care products. Genomatica partnered with Bio-Botanica earlier this year to create a new line of botanical extracts using their naturally sourced, sustainably produced butylene glycol. Brontide is a naturally derived, highly pure butylene glycol derived from a sustainable and renewable sugar fermentation process.

“Our partnership with Genomatica expands our goal to provide all-natural products for our customers by providing another alternative to petroleum-based ingredients” said Mark Sysler, Bio-Botanica’s senior vice president. “Bio-Botanica’s 46 years of botanical extract manufacturing experience, combined with Genomatica’s innovative ingredient technology, will enable personal care manufacturers to develop natural products with superior quality.”

The magical future

Genomatica is also advancing a new process to make 100% biobased nylon-6 for clothing and carpets, to help move toward a more sustainable and circular textile economy, but they aren’t doing it alone. Even Harry Potter knows he needs help from others and Genomatica does too- wisely partnering with Aquafil and the EFFECTIVE consortium, a dozen firms including brands such as H&M, Carvico, Vaude, and Balsan.

Like the power behind each of the Four Houses of Hogwarts where teams work together to win the Quidditch Cup, Project EFFECTIVE is one of the broadest industrial-driven efforts to reshape entire product value chains and drive economic growth and includes 12 organizations from eight countries and extends across entire product value chains.

Participants include renewable feedstock providers, conversion technologies, makers of intermediate and finished products, major consumer brands and recycling/reuse technologies. One of the key objectives of Project EFFECTIVE is to develop a more sustainable nylon, made from biobased caprolactam produced using renewable feedstocks. The nylon will be validated by brands to make apparel and carpet textiles.

“This consortium is an important step toward a more circular economy,” said Giulio Bonazzi, Chairman and CEO of Aquafil. “Together we will drive new waves of healthy industrialization, economic growth, and greater sustainability – better than we can individually.” We could see Dumbledore saying something very similar to this before a Quidditch match.

“More renewables in product value chains means more impact,” said Christophe Schilling, CEO of Genomatica. “More and more manufacturers and brands get it; more and more are taking action. We look forward to rapidly expanding the circle of action.”

Bottom Line

The latest $90 million equity offering is pushing Genomatica forward but it’s not just about the money. It’s also about the magical technology behind the company, the support from fellow friends, and their plans for a biobased future. Check out The Digest’s Multi-Slide Guide to Genomatica here to read more about what they are doing and why we see a bit of Harry Potter in them with wisdom, magic, power, growth and huge potential for greatness and positive impact.



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