UK and Republic of Ireland based Cellulac is a science and technology company looking to create a new paradigm in ‘green’ specialty chemical manufacturing. The company has a particular focus on the opportunity to produce high value specialty biochemicals such as Sodium Lactate, Ethyl Lactate and D(-) Lactic Acid used for biodegradable plastics. Speculation is growing that Cellulac are in talks to acquire Metabolix’s PHA technology.
Over the last 4 years Cellulac has acquired a number of distressed production and bio-based intellectual property assets. The company claims that the synergies created by integrating the technologies of chemical, mechanical, fluid dynamic and software engineering processes, built on a database of enzyme and bacteria knowledge, creates significant cost savings over conventional biofuel and biochemical production methods. In addition to the production efficiencies achieved within Cellulac’s own production processes, they also offer external licensing opportunities.
An interesting area Cellulac have been developing recently, is production of PHA. Last year Cellulac signed a deal with Pharmafilter to supply PLA:PHA bio-plastic based products to hospitals. Although Cellulac have in house technology for lactic acid and PLA production to increase their capabilities and enhance the commercial technology offer they would need to acquire technology from PHA technology developers and producers.
Meanwhile Metabolix, a leading PHA producer, have recently published a press release (16th May) stating they are exploring strategic alternatives for their biopolymers business. The press release went on to confirm that the company is currently engaged in discussions with interested parties around the biopolymers business and may engage in discussions with additional parties as they progress through the strategic review.
This has led to speculation that Cellulac are in talks to acquire Metabolix’s technology. This would make sense if Cellulac were to combine Metabolix and their own technology, which could reduce the cost of producing PHA biopolymers.
Intrigued by the possible link, NNFCC put the possibility of a commercial collaboration or technology purchase to Gerard Brandon Chief Executive of Cellulac, to which he responded:
“Cellulac collaborate with and have acquired companies over the last 4 years. Indeed we have a number of manufacturing licenses of technologies we acquired with multi-national companies, such as Tyco international for our SoniqueFlo related IP. We cannot comment on ongoing negotiations with any company we may or may not be evaluating. Our business model extracts the highest value from production and intellectual property assets within the biochemical companies we acquire, who have been pioneers and we identify synergies with our existing technology platform that are most likely to enhance and recover significant values otherwise lost in early investment, development, or failed business model. The core technology we acquire are extremely valuable, but only as a piece of a greater overall solution, rather than the solution by itself.”
The outcome of the Metabolix’s review won’t be known for some time so we will need to wait to hear more on the Metabolix PHA business, how Cellulac may develop their business and indeed how the PHA industry as a whole may evolve.