The 50 Most Visible Companies in the Advanced Bioeconomy 2014: #10-#1

June 12, 2014 |

visible-50Product launches, project start-ups, scale-up stumbles, litigation, feedstock controversy, name investors coming on board — they all add up to one thing: visibility.

And if you’re among those who believe “I don’t care what you write, just spell my name right” — here’s the ultimate visibility ranking.

The Digest’s 50 Most Visible Companies in the Bioeconomy.

Over the past two years, more than one million unique visitors have crowded the Digest’s site for news, gossip, profiles, analysis and data, data, data. Millions of page views later — we looked at which companies are the “hottest reads” in the sector — and why can’t we stop thinking about them.

Based on accumulated pageviews (as reported by Google Analytics), here’s our ranking 50 Most Visible Companies in the Bioeconomy, and some background on the companies in the rankings.

The Complete Rankings

Rankings from #50-#41

Rankings from #40-#31

Rankings from #30-#21

Rankings from #20-#11

Rankings from #10-#1



Notes: Genomatica has been on the awards circuit all year – the 2014 Bioeconomy Leadership Award, a Bloombergy New Energy Finance Pioneer award and #1 in the Hot 30. All adds up to a lot of visibility to go with the continuing story on licensing its technology.

The latest:  In California, Genomatic has been selected as the recipient of the 2014 Bioeconomy Leadership Award, awarded by the Symposium on Biotechnology for Fuels and Chemicals. The company was recognized for driving the first genuine commercialization of a biobased process for the production of a high-volume intermediate chemical (1,4-butanediol, or BDO). Genomatica is also developing processes for additional major chemicals, with butadiene as its next target, and over $100 million in total support for its development program.

The 5 Minute Guide to Genomatica


Beta Renewables

Notes: Rumbles of new commercial deployment deals have been on the jungle drums — including a M&G project in China — but driving attention has been the hige launch of the Crescentino commmercial scale plant in Italy.

The latest:  In Italy, Beta Renewables and Novozymes marked the official opening in Northern Italy of the world’s largest cellulosic biofuels facility. Situated in fields outside the city of Crescentino, it is the first plant in the world to be designed and built to produce ethanol from agricultural residues and energy crops at commercial scale using enzymatic conversion.

The 5-Minute Guide to Beta Renewables


Cool Planet

Notes: Huge capital raise and announcements of imminent reach for scale — classic drivers of visibility.

The latest: In Colorado, Cool Planet announced that it has closed on its targeted $100 million Series D financing. It joins an elite group at the forefront of the biobased revolution including Solazyme, Amyris, POET and LanzaTech who have raised these kinds of amounts.

North Bridge Venture Partners and Concord Energy were the lead investors for the round. The round added investors from Hong Kong, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Mexico to a marquee existing investor base, including North Bridge Venture Partners, Shea Ventures, BP, Google Ventures, Energy Technology Ventures (GE, ConocoPhillips, NRG Energy), and the Constellation division of Exelon.

The 5-Minute Guide to Cool Planet


Sapphire Energy

Notes: It’s been mighty quiet in Sapphire-land, given this level of visibility — just the general attention around algae in the RFS and some good news around the economics of algae biofuels to propel the story forward.

The latest: In Virginia, algae biofuels tested as very close to petroleum in energy efficient-production, according to a University of Virginia study. The study, performed at Sapphire’s demonstration plant in New Mexico, demonstrated that carbon emissions of algae biofuels come in at 50-70% lower than that of petroleum. The study evaluated EROI, Energy Return on Investment, or the amount of energy needed to produce energy in various forms, including petroleum, biofuels, wind, solar and other renewable sources.

The 5-Minute Guide to Sapphire Energy



Notes: Of note has been a new cosmetic emollient and a solvent product, restart at scale in Brotas (Brazil), and a lot of progress on developing jet fuel as a next-gen product.

The latest:

Amyris announced net income of $16.4M on revenues of $6.2M for Q1 2014, after reporting a $32.6M loss in Q1 2013 on revenues of $9.0M. In a release accompanying the results, the company highlighted that it:

  • Validated the performance of renewable jet fuel with a third demonstration flight — by Etihad Airways on a Boeing 777.
  • Expanded its product development pipeline for the commercial introduction of a new cosmetic emollient and a solvent product.
  • Resumption of production at the Brotas biorefinery following planned maintenance and facility upgrades to restart in conjunction with the sugarcane harvest period in Brazil.
  • First month of farnesene production achieved better performance from prior year’s quality manufacturing runs. Now, farnesene yield is reported at  around 80% of theoretical maximum.

The 5-Minute Guide to Amyris


Renewable Energy Group

Notes: Huge news in acquiring Dynamic Fuels and LS9 have driven the attention, but there’s been the controversy swirling around the advanced biofuels mandate for 2014, as well.

The latest: In Iowa, Renewable Energy Group announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary, REG Synthetic Fuels, LLC, has closed its acquisition of substantially all of the assets of Syntroleum Corporation. Syntroleum had advised REG that a majority of its shareholders had voted to approve the asset sale to REG. Shortly after the Syntroleum stockholders’ meeting, officials from the two companies completed the transaction, which included the issuance of 3,493,613 shares of REG common stock to Syntroleum.

The 5-Minute Guide to Renewable Energy Group




Notes: The company’s been expanding into CO2 of late  – that’s been keeping the page views peppy even as the core CO feedstock technologies get ready for scale. LT has also been in the headlines with some eybrow-raising success in raising capital.

The latest: In Kansas, INVISTA and LanzaTech signed a research and development agreement focused on the development of gas-fermentation process technology for the production of industrial chemicals from carbon dioxide and hydrogen gas (CO2 and H2) feedstocks.

According to the agreement, INVISTA and LanzaTech will collaborate on projects to develop gas-fermentation technologies to convert CO2/H2 feedstocks into a range of industrial chemicals using proprietary INVISTA host organisms and metabolic pathways. If successful, the first commercialization of this technology is expected as early as 2018.

The 5-Minute Guide to LanzaTech



Notes: Occupying the minds of most obeservers have been continuing delays in getting isobutanol going at full capacity and expected yields, and the drag of litigation with Butamax. But there have been wins in paraxylene deliveries and starting ethanol production that have attracted eyeballs as well.

The latest: From Colorado, news has arrived that Gevo is now selling paraxyleme to Toray, one of the world’s leading producers of fibers, plastics, films, and chemicals. It’s producing PX from isobutanol, one of its three molecules in production (the others are jet fuel and iso-ocrane) at its complex in Silsbee, Texas. Toray expects to produce fibers, yarns, and films from Gevo’s PX.

The 5-Minute Guide to Gevo



Notes: Between Encapso’s launch and the commissioning of the Moema plant, it’s been a big product year for Solazyme — mostly good news excepting the slight delays in getting underway in Brazil.

The latest: Solazyme announced that its joint venture with Bunge Global Innovation has successfully produced its first commercially saleable products on full-scale production lines, including the 625,000L fermentation tanks, at the Solazyme Bunge Renewable Oils plant in Brazil. Both oil and encapsulated lubricant, Encapso™, products have been manufactured; production is continuing and is expected to reach nameplate capacity within the next 12-18 months.

The 5-Minute Guide to Solazyme



Notes: It’s been a rough year for scale-up at KiOR, to say the least. The company’s hanging on by its fingernails, if you take the SEC filings at face value. But plenty of visibility of the Lindsay Lohan type – which is to say, probably the wrong kind — has made KiOR the visibility champ for 2014.

The latest:

The following is excerpted from KiOR’s most recent 10-Q quarterly report, as filed with the SEC. “We have substantial doubts about our ability to continue as a going concern. To continue as a going concern, we must secure additional capital to provide us with additional liquidity. On March 31, 2014, we entered into a Senior Secured Promissory Note and Warrant Purchase Agreement, which we refer to as the 2014 Note Purchase Agreement, with KFT Trust, Vinod Khosla, Trustee, who we refer to as Khosla or the 2014 Note Purchaser, and Khosla in its capacity as agent for Khosla. The 2014 Note Purchase Agreement contemplates multiple tranches of financing of up to $25 million.

The 5-Minute Guide to KiOR

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