Lux: Bio-Chem Firms Poised to Revolutionize Industry

by | Jan 18, 2012

A group of fast-growing bio-based chemicals and materials startups – including Novamont, Arcadia, Elevance, Amyris, Gevo and Solazyme – is rapidly maturing and attaining scale, possibly heralding the biggest change in the global chemicals industry in decades, according to a Lux Research report.

In Assessing Innovator Evolution in Renewable Materials and Chemicals, Lux analysts positioned companies active in bio-based materials and chemicals on the Lux Innovation Grid based on their technical value and business execution. Researchers say that the for an industry so dependent on massive scale, it is surprising that small technology startups are leading the way.

The report says that synthetic biology is making a big impact on the industry and has many leading companies associated with it. Dominant companies using synbio include Amyris, Gevo, Solazyme, and Codexi, the report says.

However, the report says that for several decades, algae startups have failed to deliver and struggled to attain commercial viability. No company operating in this sector earned an overall positive rating from the Lux analysts.

Solazyme has been involved in a number of high profile biofuel tests recently. In November, the Navy sent a destroyer ship powered by Solazyme’s algae-based fuel on a 20-hour trip along the California coast.

In December, Solazyme fulfilled part of the world’s largest advanced biofuel order for the Navy. Some 425,000 gallons of fuel derived from both algae and cooking oil was supplied by the company and Dynamic Fuels LLC, a joint venture between Tyson Foods Inc. and Syntroleum Corporation.

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