Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Solazyme gets $57 M for synthetic biofuels

Solazyme, Inc., a renewable oil production company and leader in algal synthetic biology, announced that it has surpassed $76 million in funding, which includes a $57million Series C financing round that just closed. Solazyme uses microalgae biotechnology to produce clean and scalable fuels, “green” chemicals, edible oils and health and wellness products.

Braemar Energy Ventures and Lightspeed Venture Partners led the financing round and were joined by other new investors including VantagePoint Venture Partners. All major existing investors participated in the round, including The Roda Group, Harris and Harris Group, and Solazyme Chairman Jerry Fiddler. The round also included new strategic investors in key target markets. All funding has been dispersed to Solazyme and will be used to move the company to commercialization.

"This most recent funding validates the unique value of our oil production platform and adds to our already strong financial position. Solazyme’s mission is to answer the increasing global demand for clean and renewable sources of oil. We offer sustainable and scalable technology that provides unique solutions for addressing four of the largest challenges facing our country and our planet: increasing energy demand, heightened energy security needs, energy related environmental degradation and hunger," said Jonathan Wolfson, CEO of Solazyme.

"Braemar’s mission is to identify and support the most promising alternative energy firms with disruptive technologies that provide meaningful clean energy solutions," said William Lese of Braemer Energy Ventures. "Solazyme’s renewable oil and advanced biofuels technology is leading the industry on the path to commercialization and will be cleanly powering our vehicles with renewable fuels that fit within the existing infrastructure."

"Solazyme has proven itself as a pioneer in the advanced biofuels space, by being the first to do many things including scale-up, production and road testing of a variety of advanced biofuels that can simultaneously meet current U.S. fuel specifications while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by over 80%," said Chris Schaepe, a partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners.

Dan Miller from The Roda Group added, “We are proud to have been an investor in Solazyme since the early seed round, and we are increasingly excited about sizeable opportunities for Solazyme’s renewable oils in all markets from fuels, to cosmetics to nutritional oils.”

"Since 2001 VantagePoint Venture Partners has focused its CleanTech efforts on identifying and investing in the leading company in those sectors best addressing the issues of natural resource limitations, climate change and energy independence," said Stephan Dolezalek, Managing Director and CleanTech Group Lead, VantagePoint Venture Partners. "The potential role of algae in achieving these targets has long been clear, but it has taken a while for a definitive category leader to arise. We believe that Solazyme has now emerged as the preeminent player in the algal biomaterials and biofuels sector.”

Solazyme’s unique renewable oil production process grows algae in the dark in an industrial fermentation process, where the algae are fed non-food biomass and industrial byproducts including a wide variety of cellulosic materials and low-grade waste glycerol which are converted by the algae into oil. This allows the company to produce oil cleanly and economically in a controlled, large-scale process. Solazyme is currently producing thousands of gallons of oil in commercial scale facilities and has produced in-specification fuels including renewable diesel, biodiesel and jet fuel. Solazyme’s first fuel, SoladieselTM, has been successfully road tested as an unblended fuel (100%) for thousands of miles in a variety of unmodified vehicles. Additionally, Solazyme’s process is the first bridge from non–food carbohydrates and industrial waste streams to edible and renewable oils. This technology has already been shown to produce high quality oils for a multitude of purposes across a variety of industries.

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