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Renewable Energy Group completes sale of REG Life Sciences' to Genomatica

In the United States (US), North America's largest biodiesel producer Renewable Energy Group, Inc. (REG), has announced that it completed on May 29, 2019, the sale of "substantially all assets" of REG Life Sciences’ to Genomatica, Inc., a leading bio-based chemicals technology developer. The value of the transaction has not been disclosed.

US dollars

Renewable Energy Group (REG) has announced that it completed on May 29, 2019, the sale of “substantially all assets” of REG Life Sciences’ to Genomatica, a leading bio-based chemicals technology developer for an undisclosed sum.

Renewable Energy Group (REG) acquired the Life Sciences business in 2014. Since then the team has successfully advanced the technology development over several years including through key strategic partnerships with Exxon Mobil and Clariant. Many of the REG Life Sciences team members will join Genomatica at its San Diego Innovation Center in California.

We are pleased to be selling our Life Sciences’ assets to Genomatica, who are well-positioned to build upon the technical progress we have made, and to advance the team and the technology through to commercialization. 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 commercialization of the technology in the future, said REG’s CEO Cynthia J. Warner.

Genomatica intends to use these assets to develop a wider range of sustainable chemicals which in turn are used to make numerous everyday materials and products.

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. This acquisition adds powerful technology and talent to help Genomatica enhance the sustainability of everyday products, said Christophe Schilling, Genomatica’s CEO.

Third technology platform

The asset acquisition provides Genomatica with its third major product platform, allowing it to expand into household and industrial cleaning products, flavours and fragrances, further growing its ingredients for the apparel, packaging and personal care markets.

Genomatica will also work with ExxonMobil to progress the research program for advanced biofuels from biomass started at REG LS, along with Clariant, which recently joined the collaboration.

Genomatica’s 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 a driver

According to Genomatica, a recent Nielsen survey, 81 percent of global consumers say it’s “extremely” or “very important” for companies to implement programs to improve the environment, while 73 percent said they would either “definitely” or “probably” change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

Ninety percent of millennials will pay more for products that contain environmentally friendly or sustainable ingredients.

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. This acquisition adds powerful technology and talent to help Genomatica enhance the sustainability of everyday products, said Christophe Schilling.

Multiple new products enabled by the acquisition

The acquisition enhances Genomatica’s ability to make “long-chain” chemicals from renewable feedstocks. These chemicals are widely used to make products such as surfactants, cosmetics, solvents, polymers, fuels, and food ingredients.

They range from eight to 18 carbon atoms in length and may contain multiple functional groups, resulting in long-chain alcohols, esters, acids, ketones, aldehydes, alkanes, amines, amides, and branched products.

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

Today, these chemicals are broadly referred to as oleochemicals as they are typically derived from palm oil, vegetable oils, or animal fats, or synthetically from fossil feedstocks such as petroleum.

Genomatica’s approach of making them via fermentation from natural, plant-based sugars or biomass-based feedstocks is more sustainable and environmentally friendly and provides new functional (performance) attributes.

The selected assets include technology for making drop-in long-chain chemicals and various novel and proprietary products being researched and/or under development. Genomatica is adding over 550 active patents and applications to bring its portfolio to over 1 500 offerings.

Genomatica’s strengths will help us realize our journey by scaling sustainable chemicals for mainstream applications. Between the terrific people, culture, and energy, we see a common vision and a natural fit. said Fernando Sanchez-Riera, formerly the vice president, R&D, REG LS, and who has now joined Genomatica to lead the continued development of the long-chain platform.

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