20 Juli 2016

Creation of Evertree, a new international actor in renewable chemistry

Avril Group teams up in JV to produce bio-VOCs

Consumers are increasingly concerned about the impact on health and the environment of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), such as formaldehyde, used in many household products, including resins, glues, paints and building materials.

Evertree offers plant-based alternatives to traditional VOC-emitting chemicals found in these products.  The first application will target the wood composite panel industry and will help to reduce or even remove the presence of, and exposure to, formaldehyde. Derived from rapeseed meal, Evertree’s products and technologies are vanguards of a new generation of wood composite panels, which are more competitive, as well as health and environment-friendlier.

The ‘SPI – Société de Projets Industriels’ (Industrial Projects Company) investment fund, financed by the French ‘Programme d’Investissements d’Avenir’ (Investments for the Future Program) and managed by Bpifrance, has joined forces with the Avril Group and the Israeli start-up Biopolymer Technologies (BPT) in the Evertree joint venture. The operational ramp up of this innovative joint venture in renewable chemistry should enable production start in 2017 with the launch of an industrial pilot plant in Compiègne, France, and the opening of a dedicated production facility in 2018. The production capacity should be gradually increased to reach 50,000 tons per year by 2020, thus enabling the creation of 110 direct jobs.

Through this joint venture, the three partners intend to foster the development of new commercial uses for vegetable proteins, in order to address new manufacturing requirements and growing consumer expectations, especially in terms of VOCs reduction or even removal. Indeed, VOCs exposure may affect health (irritations, reduced respiratory capacity, olfactory pollution; some VOCs are also considered to be carcinogens) and the environment (an early factor in ozone formation, greenhouse gases, and the formation of secondary particles).

In this context, Evertree will market an initial promising industrial application:

Devised by Biopolymer Technologies and subsequently developed in partnership with Sofiprotéol, Avril’s investment and development company, it involves manufacturing a resin additive from rapeseed meal, much sought after in the wood composite panel industry.

This additive targets industrial clients in the sector, who will be able to use less resin for an equivalent performance, substitute the current resins with less toxic ones and optimize their distribution, therefore achieving significant productivity gains.

Furthermore, this new market opportunity for the agribusiness sector will not require the use of large volumes of rapeseed meal – 50,000 tons worldwide, and will markedly enhance the added value of rapeseed protein.

The technology developed by Evertree provides manufacturers and end-customers with ecological, public health, economic and technological benefits. The additive performs either identically or better than those from the most frequently used petrochemical sources, without presenting any health risks for production staff or customers.

For Fabrice Garrigue, the CEO of Evertree: “Plant chemistry offers a substantial alternative to the use of fossil resources and can literally revolutionize numerous industrial applications.”

For Michel Boucly, Deputy CEO of the Avril Group: “Proteins are a major issue for the planet.  By improving the techniques for protein fraction, as it has done in the vegetable oil industry, Avril is particularly well placed to bring concrete solutions to the protein challenge.  The creation of Evertree is testament to Avril’s ambition regarding this challenge and illustrates its ability to create value across each of the chains in the agribusiness sector, while finding solutions for evolving consumer needs.”

For Magali Joessel, Director of the SPI fund for Bpifrance: “This 5th investment illustrates the SPI fund’s ability to gather both French and international actors, industry and R&D experts, to develop rupture innovation in France and effectively address global challenges.  With the creation of Evertree, the SPI fund aims to launch a future international champion in renewable chemistry, demonstrating France’s ability to create new industrial opportunities that drive job creation.”

The European Commission approved the joint control in Evertree by the Avril Group, SPI fund and Biopolymer Technologies on 31 May 2016.  Evertree now has €24M to develop and market its first industrial application.  The three partners have agreed to contribute a total of €72M to Evertree over 4 years, including €28.6M by SPI investment fund.  Avril will subsequently be the leading shareholder of this company.

 

About Avril Group

Set up in 1983 at the initiative of French farmers in order to assure the future of the vegetable oils and proteins sector, Avril has become a major industrial and financial group that is developing in France and internationally.

Present in sectors as diverse as human foods, animal feeds and expertise, renewable energies and renewable chemistry, Avril owns a portfolio of strong brands that are leaders in their markets: Diester®, Sanders, Lesieur, Puget, Matines, Bunica, Taous…

In more than 30 years, the Group has changed in size but its purpose has remained the same: to create sustainable value in the vegetable oils and proteins sector, thus contributing to better foods for humans and preservation of the planet.

To fulfill its mission, Avril draws strength from its industrial activities organized around its industrial activities in the vegetable oils and animal production sectors, and from its financial activity, which operates through the investment and development company Sofiprotéol.

Sofiprotéol supports companies in the agricultural and agribusiness sector over the long-term by taking minority stakes and offering loans. It supports their growth and plays a role in enhancing the long term sustainability of national industries.

In 2015, the Avril Group achieved turnover worth €6.1 billion.  It counts 7,200 employees working in 21 countries.

About the SPI Industrial Projects Company fund

Managed by Bpifrance on behalf of the French State as part of the PIA Future Investments Program, the purpose of this fund is to enable industrial projects with the best prospects for business and employment in industrial sectors to find support for their development.

The fund acts as a prudent equity investor in project companies with industrialization projects selected for their growth potential, the industry’s current position and their contribution to environmental and energy transition. It therefore constitutes one of the financial levers of the ‘New Industrial France’.

About Bpifrance

Bpifrance, a subsidiary of Caisse des Dépôts and the French State, is a trusted partner of entrepreneurs which provides companies with credit, collateral and equity financing support from start up through to stock exchange listing. Bpifrance also provides guidance services and enhanced support for innovation, external growth and export, in partnership with Business France and Coface.

Bpifrance offers companies a continuum of financing for each key stage of their development and an offer adapted to specific regional features.

With 42 regional offices (90% of decisions are made regionally), Bpifrance offers entrepreneurs a tool for economic competitiveness. Bpifrance works in support of the public policies pursued nationally and regionally by the French government, to meet three objectives:

• support the growth of businesses;

• prepare for future competitiveness;

• contribute to the development of a favorable ecosystem for entrepreneurship.

With Bpifrance, companies have a strong and effective local contact to meet all their financial, innovation and investment needs.

About Biopolymer Technologies

Founded in 2010, Biopolymer Technologies (BPT) is an industrial science and technology development startup, specializing in the domains of Nano chemistry and bio-technology.

The company’s mission is to provide industries with the technology for producing non-food-plant derived, high performing polymers and materials as a competitive and sustainable alternative to fossil-oil based products.

Its R&D and IP team has developed and tested a broad range of technologies related to the use of plant proteins in applications such as, but not limited to, wood composite boards and polyurethane foams.

Source: Avril, press release, 2016-06-27.

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