Biofuels Digest - Jim Lane
As the Advanced Bioeconomy Leadership Conference opened in San Francisco, news arrived on the conference floor that Ara Partners has committed $65M in additional capital to BioVeritas to support rapid commercialization of the company’s bio-based ingredient solutions technology.
Let’s take a deeper look at BioVeritas, which has been operating in a stealthy mode in Bryan, Texas on the edges around the Texas A&M agri-life technology machine.
Not astonishing that the technology originally spun out of Texas A&M, and the arrival of an ingredients business out of technology at a major institution is welcome news but no unicorn — what sets BioVeritas apart is that it an upcycling ingredients business.
Yes, another term to learn. The idea is this: even better than recycling, which is to capture something of value and bring it back to its original value chain before it’s diverted to a landfill. Now, there’s upcycling, which is capturing a waste stream and making it more valuable than it had been before. If I were to take a gasoline combustion emission, for example, and convert it to a valuable feed component — that’s upcycling. That in a nutshell is BioVeritas technology.
So, the claim that the company has proprietary “revolutionary production process for clean-label food and feed ingredients, gut health supplements, and industrial materials,” may sound a little enthusiastic, but it doesn’t fail in accuracy. It’s not a loud revolution with workers storming the Winter Palace or the Tuileries, but in the original sense of the world — a world turned upside down — it’s spot on.
The technology backstory
Here’s the key takeaway: The upcycling process ferments underutilized plant by-products into clean-label ingredients through anaerobic digestion while eliminating methane emissions.
In more detail: BioVeritas’ solutions are produced via the company’s proprietary process that epicycles underutilized and excess biomass from the food and agricultural industries into short- and medium-chain fatty acids through a self-regulating natural ecosystem of microorganisms. This ecosystem mimics what occurs in the human and animal gastrointestinal tracts. BioVeritas then recovers these organic acids in the greenest manner possible without the use of any harsh or toxic solvents. BioVeritas’ process is a virtual closed loop, making it one of the most natural and clean ingredient solutions available to the market.
The commercial story
The company has already started delivering samples for testing to customers and potential partners, including major players in the clean-label ingredients market, from its Market Development Unit (MDU) in Bryan, TX. The new funds raised by BioVeritas will support major upgrades to the MDU, enabling the delivery of larger-scale, food-grade samples to customers and partners by Q1 2023, and development of the company’s first commercial scale production facility. Engineering for that facility is underway.
On stage at ABLC Next
Ara Partners acquired BioVeritas in 2021 and tapped David Austgen, a 35-year veteran of the energy, chemicals, biofuels, and biochemicals industries, as BioVeritas’ CEO. Austgen will take the ABLC stage on Friday October 28th at 1pm as part of the Hot Technologies Summit.
The Bottom Line
It’s the Hot Technologies Summit for a reason — indeed, this is hot tech, though we’ve seen other developers work aspects of the underlying A&M technology for a couple of years to unlock different products using waste streams as the raw material. Trash-to-treasure — this is it. Ara’s seen the hard data and $65M is real money — clearly, confidence is high.
The company’s goal is clear: The first commercial facility is expected to have production capacity of up to 20 kilotons per year and will commence production in 2025. The next question we are all going to ask is “where?” and “with which customers and partners?”
We expect that Austgen will begin to outline the answers in his ABLC address, and we expect that rapid is going to mean purty darn rapid. 2025like next week in the world of scale-up. is
The Ara Partners backstory
Ara Partners is a private equity firm specializing in industrial decarbonization investments. Ara Partners invests in the industrial & manufacturing, chemicals & materials, energy efficiency & green fuels and food & agriculture sectors, seeking to build businesses that provide significant decarbonization impact. It operates from offices in Boston, Houston and Dublin. Ara Partners closed its second fund with approximately $1.1 billion in capital commitments in September 2021.
Reaction from the Stakeholders
“Petrochemicals are part of nearly every aspect of our lives, including our global food supply” stated Austgen. “Our mission at BioVeritas is to decarbonize the global human & animal food, feed, and gut health industries by replacing petrochemical ingredients with highly efficacious plant-based natural equivalents, thereby contributing to a healthier population and a more sustainable planet.”
Cory Steffek, Partner at Ara and Chairman of the Board at BioVeritas, said, “This additional funding commitment accelerates the scale up and commercialization of BioVeritas’ breakthrough technology. It also supports BioVeritas’ commitment to being a trusted partner for companies seeking natural, clean label solutions for food preservation, human and animal health, and industrial materials.”