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Genomatica, Pioneer in Bio-Chemicals, Working Now on Sustainable Biz

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sportswear and apparel, carpets, brush bristles, and countless other products. It is one of Genomatica’s most-recent partnerships, and among the few deals the company has disclosed. Under their agreement, Aquafil is licensing Genomatica’s technology, and the two companies will work together to adapt and scale the methods Genomatica has developed to make bio-based versions of the nylon precursor caprolactam. Aquafil is providing development funding, although financial terms were not disclosed.

Schilling said the Aquafil deal also reflects a reception for sustainable, bio-based chemicals in Western Europe that has been both stronger and broader than in the United States.

“Europe has been booming [for Genomatica] over the past two to three years,” Schilling said. Most of our partnerships are there. Sustainability is more important there.”

Schilling said he’s also seeing some exciting developments in bio-chemicals, with companies like Boston-based Ginkgo Bioworks (which is a Genomatica investor) and Emeryville, CA-based Zymergen. Genomatica works with Gingko, which has been “developing new technologies that are bringing costs down for some of the things we do,” Schilling said.

All in all, “Our story was one of survival and perseverance to get through difficult times,” Schilling said. “It was a great feat to pull off for us.” A few minutes later, the Genomatica CEO said, “We’ve been humbled by what we went through,” but perhaps by building a self-sustaining business “now we can weather some of the ups and downs.”

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