Genomatica heads for renewable chemicals commercialization with $41.5M Series D venture round; Italian chemicals giant Versalis joins as investor

August 3, 2012 |

In California, Genomatica announced it has raised an additional $41.5 million in a Series D round of preferred stock financing.  The investment featured strategic partners, including new investor and partner Versalis, the largest Italian chemical company. Existing investors Alloy Ventures, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Mohr Davidow Ventures, TPG Biotech, VantagePoint Capital Partners and Waste Management also joined the new round.

Additionally, Genomatica announced it has withdrawn the registration statement it filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on August 23, 2011 relating to a proposed initial public offering of shares of its common stock. Genomatica is developing a pipeline of manufacturing processes for the production of these chemicals, and expects the first commercial-scale BDO plant that utilizes its processes to begin production in 2013.

Genomatica CEO Christophe Schilling on the capital raise

“Private strategic capital was more advantageous for us,” Genomatica CEO Christophe Schilling told the Digest. “As a technology developer and licensor, we have a different business model than many, and a strategic partners are absolutely critical for us as we move towards full commercialization, and a strategic investment offered us much more than an IPO.”

Schilling described the use of funds in terms of developing the company’s process technology than in earmarking funds for commercial plant construction, noting that the company is fully focused on the Novomont commercial plant which is gearing up for opening next year in Italy.

Renewable chemicals: alive and well

To critics who had been assailing the industrial biotech sector of late – particularly in the raucous battles in Washington over tax and mandate provisions — Schilling said “the sector is very much alive and well, and strategic partnerships are a sign that chemical companies see that degree of difference in these technologies. There may be an understandable perception in financial markets based on the fact that a lot of companies have been on file for their IPOs and have been very muted, but investments from companies like Versalis make the case that the space is vibrant.

While BDO is the company’s first commercial project, the partnership with Versalis will accelerate work on butadiene, which at 20 billion pounds per year is six times the size of the BDO market, and Schilling nmoted that companies have been under severe pressure on butadiene supply and have been looking for alternative technologies.

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