Flagship VentureLabs announced today that Midori Renewables is globally deploying their Breaking the Biomass Barrier™ technology, a novel catalyst that melts non-food biomass into low cost sugar, enabling the production of many valuable renewable products and animal feed. Midori’s catalyst is a solid material, not an enzyme, micro-organism, or aqueous acid, that can be easily separated from the reaction and reused, resulting in a significantly lower cost solution than existing technologies.
“We evaluated hundreds of technologies before we invented our own solid catalyst, which is truly an innovative way to produce ultra low cost sugars for sustainable bio-based products,” said Dr. Brian Baynes, Founder and Chairman of Midori and Partner at Flagship VentureLabs. “People have been trying to cost-effectively break down cellulose in biomass for more than 100 years, and we have finally done it.” Midori’s technology has been shown to be effective on a variety of biomass feedstocks and can bolt-on to existing corn, sugarcane or palm oil processing facilities, converting low value cellulosic waste into high value, usable sugars.
Over the past 12 months, Midori has been testing its technology in a range of markets including, renewable fuels, renewable chemicals, food/feed, and consumer goods materials, converting biomass into sugar at costs as low as pennies per pound. Midori has already been issued two foundational U.S. patents on its catalyst technology and has more than 10 additional families of patents pending worldwide. The company will begin constructing a commercial demonstration facility in 2014 and is currently in partnering discussions with several engineering, procurement and construction firms to build the plant.
Midori is assembling a world class leadership team led by Daniel Trunfio, President and Chief Executive Officer. “Midori has made a significant technology breakthrough, one of the most substantial I have seen in my three decades in the oil and gas industry,” said Mr. Trunfio. “I am very excited to be leading Midori into its next phase of growth.”
Mr. Trunfio has 30 years of domestic and international experience in the oil and renewable fuels industries. He began his professional career with s in 1984 and held increasing leadership roles including Vice President and General Manager and led the development and implementation of Shell’s bio-fuel strategies and operations worldwide. Mr. Trunfio also held senior positions in trading, supply chain management, marketing and operations.
Midori was founded within Flagship VentureLabs, the innovation foundry of Flagship Ventures. Dr. Noubar Afeyan, Managing Partner and CEO of Flagship Ventures, is on the Board of Directors. “Midori follows a growing list of disruptive ventures emerging from our VentureLabs unit,” said Dr. Afeyan. “Our technology breakthrough has been well validated and our patented biomass conversion process promises to transform the biomass based fuels and chemicals industry in a major way.”
Midori has also assembled a scientific advisory board that includes renowned experts Dr. Charlie Wyman, Ford Motor Company, Chair and Professor of Chemical & Environmental Engineering at the University of California, Riverside; Dr. Richard Bailey, former CEO of Microbia Inc.; and Dr. Leo Manzer, a former DuPont executive and DuPont Technical Fellow.
About Midori Renewables
Midori Renewables is globally deploying their Breaking the Biomass Barrier™ technology that melts and digests biomass into sugars with a solid, recyclable catalyst. This catalyst technology will transform the entire value chain for converting cellulosic biomass to high-quality sugars. Midori’s breakthrough technology overcomes the limitations of traditional fuels and chemicals derived from fossil fuels and from food biomass sources. The technology has already been shown to be effective on a variety of biomass feedstocks and the company will begin constructing a commercial demonstration facility in 2014.
About Flagship VentureLabs
Flagship VentureLabs™ is the innovation foundry of Flagship Ventures. VentureLabs has been creating innovative, game changing companies since its founding in 2000. It is the first institution dedicated to entrepreneurial innovation and parallel entrepreneuring, where the acts of technology invention and entrepreneuring are performed in concert by a team of world-class innovators and professional entrepreneurs. The VentureLabs team innovates, invents, iterates, founds and builds startups using a unique, systematic approach that results in the creation of best-in-class new ventures. More than 25 life science and technology startups have been created within VentureLabs, including recently launched Joule Unlimited, Moderna Therapeutics, Pronutria and Seres Health.
About Flagship Ventures
Realizing entrepreneurial innovation is the mission of Flagship Ventures. The firm operates through two synergistic units: VentureLabs™ which invents and launches transformative companies, and Venture Capital, which finances and develops innovative, early-stage companies. Founded in 2000, and based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Flagship Ventures manages over $900 million in capital. The Flagship team is active in three principal business sectors: therapeutics, health technologies and sustainability/clean technology. Past successful Flagship portfolio companies include: Accuri Cytometers (acquired by Becton, Dickinson and Company), Adnexus (acquired by Bristol-Myers Squibb), Hypnion (acquired by Eli Lilly), Agios (NASDAQ: AGIO), AVEO (NASDAQ: AVEO), BG Medicine (NASDAQ: BGMD), Receptos (NASDAQ: RCPT), Tetraphase (NASDAQ: TTPH), and Morphotek (acquired by Eisai). Additional notable portfolio companies include: Affinnova, BIND Therapeutics, Joule Unlimited, Quanterix, and Moderna Therapeutics.
Source: Flagship Venture, press release, 2013-09-04.