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The future of biofuels XII - The new biomanufacturing companies and Brazil: comparing Amyris, LS9 and Solazyme *  August 29, 2013 – 02:53

Amyris , bio-economy , business strategies , LS9 , R & D , industry biofuels , Solazyme , technology

The future of biofuels XII - The new biomanufacturing companies and Brazil: comparing Amyris, LS9 and Solazyme *


By Jose Vitor Bomtempo and Flavia Alves Keys

The results of the Joint Plan BNDES, FINEP Technological Innovation Support Industrial Sector Sugarcane and Sucroquímico (PAISS) are very interesting to understand the process of development of bio-industry in Brazil. One of the eye popping to see the list of selected companies is the presence of U.S. start-ups that are conducting or plan to invest in Brazil to develop their innovation projects. This phenomenon was mentioned in the ninth posting this series. We present now an initial reflection of an ongoing research that aims to understand the nature of this process in the construction of biomanufacturing and its relationship to innovation in Brazil.

We made ​​a comparison between three major start ups of biomanufacturing - Amyris, LS9 and Solazyme - which are part of developing their innovation projects in Brazil and had their business plans selected by PAISS.

The comparison was carried out using an analytical framework that considers three aspects of the strategic decisions of an innovative project: focus, modus and locus. This means that we try to map what activities are developed (focus), how (modus) and at what location (locus) [i].

We consider the following focus: basic research, technology development, production, development and commercial applications, and to raise funds and investors. Each of these focus of activity was searched to identify the modus and locus of realization of activities for each company.

Below is each of the companies studied.


Although we have presented Amyris in previous posts , we return to such information only here to facilitate comparison with other companies.

Amyris is a start-up biotechnology established in 2003 to produce artemisinin, a drug for the treatment of malaria. With the same knowledge base used in medical and pharmaceutical biotechnology, biomanufacturing Amyris decided to produce biofuels and other bioproducts. An innovative process of fermentation was developed using synthetic biology. A yeast has been modified in its metabolism to produce hydrocarbon molecules from sugars (isoprenoids with a family of 5, 10 and 15 carbons). The farnesene - 15 carbons - is so far the best known. When hydrogenated produces a high quality diesel.

Several applications can be developed from this family of isoprenoids through a specific chemical finishing: elastomers, lubricants, cosmetics, aviation fuel, perfumes, etc.. Amyris isoprenoids considers a kind of platform to explore different potential markets, the fuel specialties.

Amyris developed initially from venture capital funds (Vinod Khosla and others) and U.S. government agencies such as the Department of Energy (DOE). In 2010, acompany made its IPO (Initial Public Offering), grossing $ 85 million. In 2011, Total became a shareholder of the company, with a share of 22%, corresponding to U.S. $ 135 million.

Amyris was the first of a series of companies to come to Brazil to develop its innovative design. A research center in Campinas was built, where about 50 people are employed. They built a pilot plant and a demonstration unit.

In 2011, the company began production in semi-commercial scale in the form of contracted production (Biomin) for the cosmetic market. Two other larger units are under construction: one near the Paradise plant (100% Amyris) and another by the São Martinho mill (joint venture Amyris and São Martinho). The Amyris diesel - diesel from sugar cane, as it has been called - has been used experimentally in buses in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.

Source: infopetro.wordpress.com

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