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Cliff Notes: 10 chemical engineering startups to know about

A cliff notes summary of ten up and coming chemical engineering startups according to C&EN. 

1. Bolt Threads Synthetic Spider Silk

Bolt Threads Synthetic Spider Silk
  • Founded: 2010 in Emeryville, CA
  • Product: Synthesizing spider silk generated by injecting spider genes into yeast. The yarn has five times more relative tensile strength than steel. Shooting for commercialization in 2016, Bolt Threads will produce a silk with higher quality and strength than cashmere and mohair at a competitive price. 
  • Venture Capital Raised: $40 million from Foundation Capital and Formation 8
  • Founder Quote: “Basically, our mission from the beginning was to make a scalable amount of spider silk and bring that to consumers,” CEO and co-founder Dan Widmaier tells WIRED. “It’s a problem that’s been around for a long time, and has been hampered entirely by technical challenges.”
View Full C&EN Feature

2. Carbon3D Printing

Carbon3D Printing
  • Founded: 2013 in Redwood City, CA
  • Product: New 3D printing technology that can speed up the printing process by 25x - 100x with future potential to reach 1000x. This new speed would allow 3D printing to eliminate entry barriers of scale in numerous manufacturing industries such as automotive, home appliances, and medial devices. 
  • Venture Capital Raised: $143 Million from Sequoia Capital, Silver Lake Kraftwerk, and Google Ventures
  • Founder Quote: “ There are  mushrooms that grow faster than current 3D printed parts”
    - Co-Founder Joseph DeSimone
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3. Connora Technologies Composite Resins

Connora Technologies Composite Resins
  • Founded: 2012 in Hayward, CA
  • Product: Recyclamine, an epoxy additive which enhances the recycle potential of lightweight composite materials used in bicycles, cars, planes, and sporting goods. 
  • Venture Capital Raised: Undisclosed amount from Samsung Ventures
  • Founder Quote: “It (Recyclamine) is basically the first example of being able to convert a thermoset into a thermoplastic that could be industrially viable”
    - Co-Founder Dr. Rey Banatao
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4. Liquid Light sustainable plastic solutions

Liquid Light sustainable plastic solutions
  • Founded: 2009 in Monmouth Junction, N.J.
  • Product: Sustainable replacements for industrial chemicals such as PET,  a major chemical used in the creation of plastic bottles, and MEG, a component of anti-freeze. A primary input for this technology is Carbon Dioxide. 
  • Venture Capital Raised: $15 Million from BP Ventures, VantagePoint Capital Partners, and Osage University Partners
  • Founder Quote: "In 2015, we'll be making our technology work on a bigger scale - getting us closer to commercial use. Our first product is a new way of making a commercially-important chemical - monoethylene glycol (MEG) - from carbon dioxide, which is a big deal. MEG is used in antifreeze and in the plastic used in water bottles."
    - Co-Founder Dr. Emily Cole
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5. Nohms Technologies Battery Technology

Nohms Technologies Battery Technology
  • Founded: 2010 in Rochester, NY
  • Product: Battery technology employing Ionic liquid electrolytes and carbon-sulfur cathodes. This technology is poised to offer increased battery life and approximately 33% more voltage capacity.  
  • Venture Capital Raised: $1.64 million U.S. Advanced Battery Consortium as well as non-dilutive SBIR grants and grants from the United States Air Force. 
  • CEO Quote: ""Our technology is less costly, using fewer cells and more energy. When you have higher energy, you have less space needed and less cost. That allows the system to be less expensive. Everyone needs longer-lasting batteries and you need safer, higher-energy batteries. We have some solutions that offer a definite advantage."
    - CEO Richard Delmerico 
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6. Padlock Therapeutics 

Padlock Therapeutics
  • Founded: 2014 in Cambridge, MA
  • Product: Structural and Biological innovations in Enzyme Engineering for the purpose of treating medical patients with autoimmune diseases such as arthritis and lupus. 
  • Venture Capital Raised: $23 Million led by Atlas Ventures 
  • Founder Quote: “While the roots of this science are over fifty years old, recent advances in PAD biology and biochemistry, including work by Padlock’s scientific co-founders, have enabled us to pursue rational development of inhibitors of these enzymes for the treatment of autoimmune disease,”  Dr. Michael Gilman, Founder and Chief Executive Officer 
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7. Provivi biobased insect pheromones

Provivi biobased insect pheromones
  • Founded: 2013 in Santa Monica, CA
  • Product: Improved bio-catalysts such as artificial insect pheromones which can be used to prevent pest damage to many types of agricultural crops. 
  • Venture Capital Raised: $6.7 Million from MLS Capital
  • Founder Quote: "We were so confident in the technology at the beginning that we figured the business model would take care of itself." 
    - CEO and Co-Founder Pedro Coelho
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8. Revolution Medicines 

Revolution Medicines
  • Founded: 2015 in Redwood City, CA
  • Product: Improved synthesis of complex natural chemicals with the objective of treating infections and diseases with drugs based off of natural compounds which were previously not well understood or too complex to analyze. 
  • Venture Capital Raised: $45 Million led by Third Rock Ventures 
  • Founder Quote: "There's an inherent redundancy in natural products. The building blocks of for one program become great starting materials for others. We envision an exponential increase in productivity once we start to fill our shelves." - Founder Dr. Martin Burke 
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9. SLIPS Technologies 

SLIPS Technologies
  • Founded: 2014 in Cambridge, Ma
  • Product: Chemical manipulation of containers to increase slipperiness for consumer applications such as food (see video below) as well as industrial and medical applications requiring high degrees of precision. 
  • Venture Capital Raised: $3 Million led by BASF Venture Capital 
  • CEO Quote: “SLIPS delivers solutions for creating exceptionally repellent and robust self-cleaning surfaces on metals, plastics, optics, textiles and ceramics,”
    - President and CEO Daniel Behr
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10. Twist Bioscience 

  • Founded: 2013 in San Francisco, CA
  • Product: Custom built DNA using silicon based techniques will enable more effective research in areas such as human gene synthesis, improved applications pertaining to genome editing, as well as synthesis of new drugs. 
  • Venture Capital Raised: $37 Million from Illumina, Applied Materials, and WuXi AppTec (Series C)
  • Founder Quote: "The past 10 years in life sciences have been all about DNA reading. What we want to be is the uncontested leader in DNA writing." Co-Founder Dr. Emily Leproust
View Full C&EN Feature

Stay tuned for our next article tomorrow!

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About the Author

Pat Flynn

Co-Founder
Hazel Technologies LLC

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