Allylix Raises $18.2M for Renewable Production of Aroma Chemicals

[Corrected 3/12/12, 11:35 pm to show total investment of $18.2 million.] Germany’s BASF Venture Capital has invested $13.5 million in a financing round that raised a total of $18.2 million for Allylix, the San Diego-based renewable chemicals startup that uses fermentation technology and genetically engineered yeast to produce specialized flavor and fragrance chemicals.

Also participating in the round were existing investors Avrio Ventures, Cultivian Ventures, and London-based agribusiness company Tate & Lyle, according to a statement today. Tate & Lyle also has been a significant backer of Genomatica, another San Diego renewable chemicals startup.

Allylix was founded in 2004 to advance its technology for making terpenes, a group of complex hydrocarbon chemicals typically used as flavor and fragrance enhancers. The first product introduced by the company was nootkatone, which has a keen grapefruit taste and smell. Nootkatone previously was extracted from grapefruit peels in a process that can run as much as $4,000 per kilogram (about 2.2 pounds).

“This round of funding will support the development and delivery of new compounds in Allylix’s pipeline, and will allow us to expand the market for our existing products,” Allylix CEO Carolyn Fritz says in today’s statement.

Daniela Proske of BASF Venture Capital America says Allylix “has demonstrated the ability to produce high-quality products at scalable commercial quantities and at a lower price point, which is one of several compelling reasons to invest in Allylix.”

As Fritz explained in 2010, terpenes comprise a huge class of hydrocarbon molecules, including hundreds of thousands of scent and flavor compounds produced in nature. But the complex structure of the molecules make them extremely difficult to synthesize using conventional chemistry.

Bruce V. Bigelow was the editor of Xconomy San Diego from 2008 to 2018. Read more about his life and work here. Follow @bvbigelow

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