ImpactAlpha, Sept. 12 – The chemicals industry – think fertilizers, detergents, water treatments – is the third-largest producer of global carbon emissions. By replacing fossil fuels such as petroleum and natural gas with renewable feedstocks, Solugen aims to turn chemical production carbon negative.
At its Houston-based “bioforge,” the company grows enzymes that convert sugars, air and carbon dioxide into chemicals. The financing round, led by Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, GIC, and Baillie Gifford, values Solugen above $1.8 billion.
“Solugen has the ability to make the building blocks for 90% of the chemicals industry cheaper, faster, and more sustainably than petrochemistry can,” says Seth Bannon of Fifty Years VC, which led Solugen’s pre-seed round in 2016. If things go well, says Bannon, “Solugen will not only be the first carbon-negative chemicals company but also the world’s first trillion-dollar chemicals company.” Lowercarbon Capital, Temasek Holdings, Carbon Direct Capital Management and BlackRock managed funds also participated.
Texas’ abortion ban and other restrictive social policies has made it harder to recruit talent, says Solugen’s Gaurab Chakrabarti, who is looking outside the state for expansion.
“We’ve come to the conclusion after talking to lots of candidates that they want to join Solugen but they don’t feel comfortable coming to Texas, so for us it’s become a no-brainer to have R&D facilities elsewhere,” he told Axios.