From San Diego Deal, DSM Plans Industrial Biotechnology Expansion

Xconomy San Diego — 

Royal DSM, the Dutch multinational industrial conglomerate, officially opened a new office in San Diego yesterday, exactly one year after acquiring food enzymes and oilseed processing assets from San Diego-based Verenium in a deal valued at $37 million.

While the DSM outpost in Southern California has only a dozen employees, including eight from Verenium, it represents a focal point of growth for a company that officially began in 1902 as the “Dutch States Mining” company. Since then, DSM’s corporate strategy has shifted from mining coal to producing petrochemicals, refined chemicals, materials—and now life sciences (including industrial biotechnology), which now accounts for about 60 percent of the company’s $11 billion in global revenue.

The company, which has more than 24,000 employees, says it has acquired 10 companies in health, nutrition, and materials since it formally adopted a new life sciences strategy in September 2010. In addition to last year’s deal with Verenium, DSM has acquired dairy enzymes and culture assets from Cargill, a Brazilian nutritional supplements business for cattle, a New York food nutrition company, Ocean Nutrition Canada, and Kensey Nash, a regenerative medicine and biomaterials business based in Pennsylvania.

DSM acquired Verenium’s oilseed processing business, including proprietary enzymes used to extract oils from soybeans, canola, and sunflower seeds. The company plans to expand its San Diego-based business, according to Hans-Christian Ambjerg, who oversees DSM Food Specialties from the company’s headquarters in the Netherlands.

“We help our customers to increase their yield in a sustainable way,” says Ambjerg, who tells me he was deeply involved in the San Diego acquisition. DSM has said the global crop-based oil market is expected to grow by 50 percent annually in coming years, with the overall market potential estimated at more than $350 million. DSM also acquired exclusive worldwide licenses to two enzymes (alpha-amylase and xylanase) used in the food and beverage markets, and says the market for food enzymes alone is more than $1.3 billion.

“From a San Diego point of view, we are very excited about this opportunity and have a strong commitment to build our presence here,” Ambjerg says.

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