Milan, Italy and San Diego, CA, April 11, 2013
Versalis and Genomatica announced the signing of a definitive joint development and licensing agreement establishing a technology joint venture for bio-based butadiene. The two companies will work together to develop a complete ‘end-to-end’ process for the on-purpose production of butadiene from non-food biomass.
The resulting process will be licensed across Europe, Asia and Africa by the newly-created joint venture. Future Licensees of the process, including Versalis, will provide the capital required for the construction and operation of their own plants, and be responsible for use and sale of the resulting butadiene.
Versalis aims at being the first to license the process and build commercial plants. It will also provide over $20 million in funding to Genomatica to support development of the integrated end-to-end process. The current agreement fulfills the steps contained in the Memorandum of Understanding announced in July 2012.
The joint venture will leverage proven strengths of both companies. Genomatica brings its expertise in biotechnology, particularly in engineering organisms and fermentation. As a leader in butadiene-based products, Versalis will benefit this joint venture with a long-standing expertise in catalysis and process engineering that is vital for the development of bio-based butadiene technologies.
“Versalis’ experience in downstream applications, particularly in the Elastomers business, and its ability to deploy plants, make us a preferred partner for Genomatica. The signing of this joint venture will offer Versalis a better way to start on an innovative path between the traditional Butadiene production process, which positions the company as a leader in Europe, and any new opportunity for the application of biotechnologies within the chemical industry,” said Daniele Ferrari, CEO of Versalis. “We’ve seen lots of different technologies out there. Genomatica was the clear choice, and the best positioned to satisfy market needs.”
“The combination of Versalis and Genomatica brings the industry closer to a butadiene source that will be more sustainable and deliver more stable production costs,” said Christophe Schilling, CEO of Genomatica. “Having seen successful commercial scale production of BDO using our process, this partnership further validates the ability of our technology platform to bring additional chemicals to life.”
Versalis is the largest Italian chemical company and a subsidiary of Eni. The company manages the production and marketing of an extensive portfolio of petrochemical products and is a leading producer of intermediates, polyethylene, styrenics and elastomers. It has recently been refocusing its strategies on a more market-oriented product portfolio, reinforcing R&D and Licensing, and enhancing global presence. The Elastomers business is central to the upgrading and optimization plan which also includes expanding portfolio through bio-based chemicals.
Versalis prides itself on its wide range of proprietary technologies and state-of-the-art production processes, a wide-reaching distribution network and a highly-customized after-sales assistance. With a 2012 production of 6,2 million tons, Versalis operates on an international scale and has a strong focus on the fast-growing green chemical sector with Matrìca (a 50:50 joint venture with Novamont) to build a bio-chemical complex at Porto Torres, Sardinia, Italy. Versalis has also partnered with Yulex for guayule-based natural rubber and with Pirelli for a joint research project aimed at the use of guayule-based natural rubber in tire production.
Genomatica is a widely-acknowledged technology leader for the chemical industry. It delivers new manufacturing processes that enable its partners to produce high-volume intermediate and basic chemicals from renewable feedstocks. Genomatica’s processes are designed to achieve better economics and greater sustainability than petroleum-based manufacturing processes. Genomatica’s first process, for BDO, was used for commercial scale production of 5 million pounds in November 2012, and Genomatica is establishing partnerships worldwide for production using its process. Additionally, Genomatica is developing a pipeline of manufacturing processes for other major chemicals; the next is for butadiene, with Versalis as partner. Genomatica’s accomplishments have been recognized with numerous awards, including the Wall Street Journal Technology Innovation award, ICIS Top 40 ‘Ones to Watch’, the EPA Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award, voted #1 Hottest two years in a row by Biofuels Digest, and being named a Best Place to Work by The Scientist.