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Genomatica to expand into new markets after REG Life Sciences acquisition.

Christophe Schilling, CEO of Genomatica.

“This acquisition adds powerful technology and talent to help Genomatica enhance the sustainability of everyday products.”

Genomatica, a US bioengineering specialist, has announced that it has acquired the assets of the REG Life Sciences division of Renewable Energy Group, a biodiesel production company.

This is Genomatica’s first acquisition and the company intends to use these assets to develop a wider range of bio-based chemicals.

In a statement, Genomatica (@Genomatica) said the asset acquisition provides the company with its third major product platform, allowing it to expand into household and industrial cleaning products, and flavours and fragrances. This will also allow the company to grow its ingredients for the apparel, packaging and personal care markets, Genomatica said.

As part of the deal, Genomatica will also work with oil giant ExxonMobil (@exxonmobil) to progress the research programme for advanced biofuels from biomass started at REG LS, along with speciality chemicals company Clariant, who recently joined the collaboration.

The exact financial terms were not disclosed. However, Genomatica said its acquisition is designed to create more technology solutions to help brands and their suppliers meet increasing consumer demand for sustainable products by incorporating renewable or bio-based chemicals into their product offerings.

“Consumer demand for sustainable products continues to grow, and successful companies will increasingly switch to ingredients that reduce harm to the environment and work with partners with shared values,” said Christophe Schilling, CEO at Genomatica.

He added: “This acquisition adds powerful technology and talent to help Genomatica enhance the sustainability of everyday products.”

Genomatica also said that this acquisition enhances the company’s ability to make longer carbon-chain chemicals from renewable feedstocks.

Acceleration into household product market

These chemicals are widely used to make products such as homecare products like detergents and surface cleaners, giving the company a toehold in the $97 billion soap and detergent market.

According to Genomatica, its approach of making them chemicals via fermentation from natural, plant-based sugars or biomass-based feedstocks is more sustainable and environmentally friendly, and provides new functional attributes.

The selected assets include technology for making drop-in long-chain chemicals and various novel and proprietary products being researched and under development.

It is adding more than 550 active patents and applications to bring its portfolio to more than 1,500 offerings.

The long-chain platform adds to Genomatica’s existing “C4” platform, which has already delivered commercial products for bio-based 1,4-butanediol (used for biodegradable plastics and apparel) and for butylene glycol (cosmetics and personal care), and to its “C6” platform, with numerous chemicals under development including bio-based caprolactam (to make 100% renewable nylon, for apparel and carpet).

Speaking to Bio Market Insights last year about Genomatica’s future, Schilling said he saw the company leading a transition to more sustainable everyday products. He added: “More chemical companies, downstream firms and major brands are looking to us as the go-to partner for pragmatic, advantaged technology that supports them in their key business and societal initiatives.”

Under the new deal, REG LS employees will join Genomatica at its San Diego ‘Innovation Center’.

“Genomatica’s strengths will help us realise our journey by scaling sustainable chemicals for mainstream applications,” said Fernando Sanchez-Riera, formerly the VO, R&D, REG LS, and who has now joined Genomatica to lead the continued development of the long-chain platform.

REG CEO Cynthia J. Warner said that she welcomed the acquisition, adding that Genomatica was well positioned to build upon the technical progress “we have made, and to advance the team and the technology through to commercialisation”.

She explained: “As we focus on our core strategies to grow our fuel business, this deal allows the technology to develop with a new owner while we retain the opportunity to participate in the successful commercialisation of the technology in the future.”


If you were interested in this Genomatica story, you may also be interested in the ones below.

Read: 5 Minutes With… Christophe Schilling, CEO of Genomatica.

Read: Expert View: Brands – a pragmatic approach to bio-based chemicals.

Read: Genomatica and Covestro team up to research plant-based ‘high-performance’ materials.

Take part: Bio Market Insights reader survey 2019.

Read: Meet the green startup shaking up the chemicals industry.

Read: Inside the alliance between REG, ExxonMobil and Clariant that is revolutionising cellulosic biofuels.

Read: Global brands open up about the challenges and opportunities of sustainable products.  

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