Confirmed this month, Verdezyne, the synthetic biology company that was founded in 2008 and was working on the production of renewable chemicals, using their own highly-proprietary platform, has gone into bankruptcy.
First reported by BiofuelsDigest, this month Green Chemicals Blog had spoken with a senior employee from Verdezyne, who said the Californian company closed its operations on May 15th due to its primary investor, Sime Darby, having withdrawn its funding. Verdezyne’s other investors included BP Ventures, DSM Venturing B.V., OVP Venture Partners and Monitor Ventures. The closure of the company came ahead of the imminent opening of its first commercial facility, which would have been an impressive achievement for an industry where one of the main challenges lies in producing bio-based materials on an industrial scale.
We spoke to Tom Beardslee, the former vice president of R&D at Verdezyne, in September last year for our interview feature, 5 Minutes With…, in which Beardslee provided details about the opening ceremony that had taken place three months earlier. Due for completion a year after that groundbreaking ceremony [pictured above] in September 2018 – when it would become the first commercial producer of dodecanedioic acid in the world – the date suggested that the site was around 80% complete when work on it ceased.
In the interview, Beardslee gave a clear indicator of the huge challenge that the VerdePalm facility created, one that he said proved the biggest in his career. “Building something that costs tens-of-millions-of-dollars on the other side of the world, while negotiating with those financing it and the engineering firms providing the work, is quite a process,” said Beardslee .
Verdezyne joins BioAmber and Rennovia, both of which also entered liquidation this year, clearly illustrating the often challenging nature of the bio-based industry as it battles to compete with fossil-based alternatives and high costs of scale-up and growth.
Verdezyne were contacted but were unavailable for comment.