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Capro-X granted US$724 000 NSF Phase II award

In the United States (US), Capro-X, an agritech spin-off from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York (NY) that repurposes dairy waste and began in Cornell Engineering’s Commercialization Fellows program, has recently received a US$724 000 National Science Foundation (NSF) Phase II award.

Dr Juan Guzman, co-founder, and CEO of Capro-X, presents his startup’s sustainable solution to the problem of acid whey waste from dairy production at the 2019 Grow-NY Food and Agriculture Competition (photo courtesy Allison Usavage/Cornell University).

The company, which converts acid whey waste from the production of Greek yogurt into chemicals and biofuels, will use the funds to optimize its technology at the lab scale and evaluate impacts at the demonstration scale, before its planned market entry in 2022.

The NSF Phase II grant pushes Capro-X past US$1 million in funding awards. After completing the NSF’s I-Corps, a seven-week program to train researchers to become entrepreneurs, company co-founder, and CEO Dr Juan Guzman, applied for and received a US$225 000 NSF Phase I grant.

Last year, Capro-X won a US$250 000 prize in the inaugural Grow-NY food and agriculture competition, administered by Cornell’s Center for Regional Economic Advancement.

This spring the startup secured additional funding from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), through its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, as one of 23 companies developing technologies that will help protect health and the environment.

We’ve been able to achieve all of the goals we set out to reach when starting the company a couple of years ago. We’re just excited to have a team that has stuck with us through all of our growth stages. We’re on a trajectory to bring our solution to market to increase the sustainability of the dairy industry, Dr Juan Guzman said.

This month, Capro-X began the Dairy Farmers of America business accelerator program and this summer, the company is starting construction on its demonstration system, which is expected to treat a few hundred gallons of Greek yogurt acid whey per day. It should produce enough bioproducts to enable Capro-X to enter the specialty chemicals market.

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