NexSteppe: Biofuels Digest’s 2015 5-Minute Guide

April 16, 2015 |

NexSteppe is dedicated to pioneering the next generation of scalable, reliable, cost-effective feedstock solutions for the biofuels, biopower and biobased products industries. Using advanced breeding techniques and cutting-edge analytical technologies, NexSteppe is developing Malibu sweet sorghum and Palo Alto high biomass sorghum to produce feedstocks tailored for these biobased industries.

Named for the city where the company was founded, NexSteppe’s Malibu sweet sorghum hybrids have been optimized to provide an easily accessible source of fermentable sugars for the production of biobased fuels, chemicals and products. Our Palo Alto high biomass sorghum hybrids provide a high-yield, low-moisture, cost-effective feedstock for biopower, including biogas, and cellulosic biofuels. NexSteppe is also refining crop management practices and supply chain operations to provide optimized, fully-integrated feedstock solutions.

Through the development and commercialization of these tailored crops and integrated feedstock solutions, NexSteppe is laying a foundation for a sustainable and secure future for our economy, our environment, and our energy supply.

Rankings

The 40 Hottest Smaller Companies in the Advanced Bioeconomy, #4, 2014-15

The 50 Hottest Companies in Bioenergy, #35, 2014-15

The Situation

In California, NexSteppe announced that it sold more than 10,000 hectares (25,000 acres) of its Palo Alto biomass sorghums in Brazil this past growing season, compared to just over 1,000 hectares (2,500 acres) in the previous year.

At yields of 20-25 dry tons per hectare, 10,000 hectares of NexSteppe’s Palo Alto biomass sorghum can provide 200,000-250,000 dry tons of biomass. This amount of biomass can generate 120,000-300,000 MWh of biomass power depending on conversion efficiency.

This is also the amount of biomass required for one year of operation in the first commercial scale cellulosic biofuels facilities recently completed or under development by Chemtex, GranBio, POET/DSM, Raizen. and 67%-80% of the feedstock needs of reference scale plants being developed by Abengoa and DuPont. According to NexSteppe, “this is the first time dedicated biomass crops have been demonstrated at this scale in such a short time frame and in the absence of a government policy program funding their planting.”

Investors

Total Energy Ventures

Braemar Energy Ventures

DuPont Ventures

CYM Ventures

Zygote Ventures

Top Past Milestones

In September 2014, NexSteppe announcedthat it raised $22M in its third round of funding. In the new round of funding, new investors Total Energy Ventures and ELFH Holding GmbH, a vehicle of the Berninghausen family in Germany, a serial founder and investor in cleantech, the wood industry and real estate, join existing investors Braemar Energy Ventures, CYM Ventures, DuPont Ventures and others.

In April 2014, NexSteppe announced the launch of its first sorghum hybrid products in the U.S. and in Brazil. NexSteppe’s new Malibu sweet sorghum hybrids and Palo Alto high biomass sorghum hybrids offer a tailored alternative for companies seeking a cost-effective feedstock solution for the production of advanced and cellulosic biofuels, biopower and biobased products.

In April 2013, NexSteppe, a company dedicated to pioneering the next generation of sustainable feedstock solutions for the biobased industries, today announced the launch of its first sorghum hybrid products in the U.S. and in Brazil. NexSteppe’s new Malibu sweet sorghum hybrids and Palo Alto biomass sorghum hybrids offer a tailored alternative for companies seeking a cost-effective feedstock solution for the production of advanced and cellulosic biofuels, biopower and biobased products.

In 2011, NexSteppe raised $14 million in Series B Funding.  The new round of funding was led by Braemar Energy Ventures, and as a result, Dennis Costello, Partner at Braemar, has joined the company’s Board of Directors. NexSteppe will use the proceeds from the round to scale up its sweet sorghum, high biomass sorghum and switchgrass breeding programs, and to advance its first products toward commercialization

Major Milestone Goals

Deployment of Malibu sweet sorghum hybrids and Palo Alto high biomass sorghum hybrids

Business Model
Seller of seed and provider of project development services.

Competitive Edge

  • Broadly-adapted, high yield feedstocks
  • Scalable, reliable, compositionally optimized, economically competitive, fermentable sugars, for advanced biofuels and biobased products,biomass for biopower and cellulosic biofuels.
  • Purpose-built company focused solely on the optimization of sugar and biomass crops that will serve as feedstocks for biofuels, biopower and biobased products.

Research, or Manufacturing Partnerships or Alliances

DuPont has made an equity investment in NexSteppe, and through its Pioneer Hi-Bred business, will provide knowledge, resources and advanced technologies to help the company accelerate the breeding and commercialization of new hybrids of these crops in the United States and Brazil.

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Category: 5-Minute Guide

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