Fearsome Foursome: BASF, with 3 new deals, heads for the big league in industrial enzymes

May 16, 2013 |

FearsomeFoursome#1 chemco acquires Henkel’s detergents enzyme technology; licenses Dyadic’s C1 platform; inks R&D pact with Direvo.

In Germany, BASF has strengthened its technology footprint in industrial enzymes, one of BASF’s identified growth fields, with three separate transactions.

Er, who is BASF again?

BASF is the world’s leading chemical company, ranked by sales. Its portfolio ranges from chemicals, plastics, performance products and crop protection products to oil and gas.BASF had sales of €72.1 billion in 2012 and more than 110,000 employees as of the end of the year.

The Henkel deal


In order to complement its position as a comprehensive supplier of differentiating ingredients to the detergents and cleaning industry, BASF completed the acquisition of Henkel’s detergents enzyme technology, comprising production hosts, various detergent enzymes, as well as corresponding intellectual property. Under the agreement, Henkel retains the right to use the technology for captive demand including back-licensing provisions. Enzymes are key performance ingredients in modern detergent formulations. Expanding into enzyme technology will increase BASF’s position as an innovation leader in the home care and industrial & institutional cleaning industry.

The Dyadic deal


In addition, BASF and Dyadic International, Inc., announced today that the two companies have entered into a non-exclusive worldwide research and license agreement for Dyadic’s C1 production host technology. Under the terms of the license agreement BASF will be able to use Dyadic’s patented and proprietary C1 technology for gene discovery, expression and the production of enzymes and other proteins. BASF will fund research and development at Dyadic’s research labs.

Under the terms of the agreement, BASF will be able to use Dyadic’s patented and proprietary C1 platform technology to develop, produce, distribute and sell industrial enzymes in certain fields for a variety of applications.  BASF will fund research and development at Dyadic’s research lab in The Netherlands. In addition to this funding, BASF has agreed to pay Dyadic a $6 million upfront license fee, and certain research and commercial milestone fees, as well as royalties upon commercialization.

The Direvo deal


BASF and Direvo Industrial Biotechnology GmbH are broadening their collaboration on enzymes for animal nutrition. Direvo, an expert in enzyme development and optimization, and BASF will jointly develop a highly efficient protease for pig and poultry.

Proteases are increasingly used in animal nutrition to improve the digestibility of soy. This new product will help animals to make better use of the nutrients in their diet and support their well-being. The protease will complement BASF’s feed enzyme portfolio and is a further step for BASF to extend its position as a leader in animal nutrition.

Direvo is a biotechnology company with focus on the biomass conversion industry. Direvo identifies bottlenecks and weaknesses in current industrial processes in this sector and develops and implements biology-based solutions together with large and small industrial partners. Direvo’s products are newly designed enzymes and microorganisms of the highest quality that provide easy-to-implement, cost-effective solutions. Direvo’s contribution assures that partners stay competitive and profitable while supporting them to make the future cleaner, greener and safer.

Why industrial enzymes?


In its “We create chemistry” strategy, BASF identified growth and technology fields which address new areas of activity for BASF. At the core are areas driven mainly by world population growth: resources, environment and climate; food and nutrition and quality of life.

“The acquired technologies are a pre-requisite to develop and further strengthen our enzyme technology platform for attractive global market segments. We will use the acquired know-how and technology for the efficient development of future innovative customer solutions,” said Michael Heinz, member of the Board of Executive Directors of BASF SE.

The Bottom Line

In its announced deals, BASF is acquiring industrial enzymes from Henkel, expanding its capability via Direvo to design pig and poultry enzymes to improve animal nutrition via soy digestibility.

Plus, with the C1 license it is acquiring technology via Dyadic to mass produce proteins and enzymes in large tanks — something Dyadic and its existing licensees, have done worldwide, for years, at up to 150,000 liter scale, cost efficiently.

It’s certainly a competitive thrust towards the industrial enzyme businesses of Novozymes and Dupont Industrial Biosciences (in its former Genencor unit) — and a worthy competitor not to be laughed off.

With its investment in Renmatix — the company may well be attempting, as well, to acquire a lower cost feedstock for its mass production platform. Today, microorganisms that generate enzymes, according to Novozymes, “feed on nutrients derived from e.g. maize (corn), soy beans, potatoes or sugars. But the right nutrients for the microorganisms depend on the enzyme which is to be produced. The same applies to the temperature, oxygen level and pH to which the microorganisms are exposed.”

We also are tempted to see the Genomatica license in the context of the Renmatix investment — as that process (which produces, via fermentation, the base chemical BDO, or 1,4 butanediol).

For sure, BASF is busting a move in its industrial fermentation, enzyme and product capabilities. Now they’ve got the “know” to “grow”, even “more” than “before”.

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