Genomatica is an emerging leader in sustainable chemicals, featuring greener intermediate and basic chemicals made from renewable feedstocks, rather than oil and natural gas. The company aims to transform the chemical industry by developing cost-advantaged, smaller carbon footprint products as direct replacements in this trillion-dollar market.
Genomatica was co-founded in 2000 by Dr. Christophe Schilling, at the time an entrepreneurial student working in the research laboratory of Dr. Bernhard Palsson, the Galletti Professor of Bioengineering and Adjunct Professor of Medicine at UC San Diego. Dr. Palsson is a co-founder and remains involved in the start-up as chairman of the company’s scientific advisory board.
In the past decade, under Schilling’s leadership, the company has achieved key milestones: raising venture financing, forging corporate partnerships and relationships, and advancing product development towards commercialization. Schilling is leading the team to commercialize Genomatica’s first product, a bio-BDO (1-4 butanediol). BDO, an intermediate chemical with a $4 billion market worldwide, is used to manufacture spandex, automotive plastics, running shoes, and more.
The company’s process replaces oil and natural gas with renewable feedstocks such as sugar, biomass, or eventually syngas (a product of municipal solid waste). Instead of competing with the energy and transportation industries to secure the oil and natural gas needed to make chemicals, Genomatica’s sugar-to-BDO process provides a more diversified starting point for production.
Genomatica’s approach has several advantages over the existing business models within its industry. The company’s process outperforms existing chemical processes on cost, flexibility, and environmental impact. Because the process is mechanically simpler than traditional methods, the factories will be simpler and less expensive to build. With 50 percent lower capital expenditures for factories and lower ongoing costs, its potential partners can gain a significant savings over the competition.
In addition, Genomatica’s processes have a lower environmental impact. Their first commercial product, bio-BDO, will have 70 percent lower greenhouse gas emissions. This has a potential savings of 7 billion pounds of carbon dioxide per year, and 60 percent lower energy requirements than competing processes.
Advancing their product development pipeline, the company recently announced the successful production of pound quantities of butadiene, its second process made from renewable feedstocks. Butadiene is one of the seven basic chemicals at the core of the chemical industry and is an important ingredient used to make products such as tires, engineering polymers, and latex products.
Butadiene is primarily produced today as a by-product of ethylene cracking. Increased availability of natural gas, especially in North America, has contributed to a growing spread between the price of crude oil and natural gas. This dynamic has made lighter feedstocks derived from natural gas a more attractive input for ethylene cracking operations, compared to heavier feedstocks derived from crude oil. Global demand for butadiene is forecasted to be over 20 billion pounds in 2011, a value of approximately $40 billion.
Genomatica is developing a pipeline of manufacturing processes for the production of basic chemicals, and expects the first commercial BDO plant that utilizes its processes to begin production by the end of 2012.
10520 Wateridge Circle, San Diego, CA 92121
Tel: (858) 824-1771
Fax: (858) 824-1772
Number of Employees: 70
Christophe Schilling, PhD – CEO
Michael E. Keane – CFO and EVP
William H. Baum – CBDO
Mark Burk, PhD – CTO
$84 million from investors:
Alloy Ventures, Bright Capital, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Mohr Davidow Ventures, TPG Biotech, VantagePoint Venture Partners, and Waste Management.
Waste Management, Tate & Lyle, M&G (Gruppo Mossi & Ghisolfi), and Novamont.
Bernhard Ø. Palsson, PhD
The Galletti Professor of Bioengineering,
Jacobs School of Engineering
Adjunct Professor of Medicine