Mtech TAP Incubator Company Zymetis Inc. Acquired by AE Biofuels
Zymetis Inc., a company in the Technology Advancement Program incubator at the University of Maryland developing products for the renewable chemicals and advanced fuels industries, has been acquired by AE Biofuels Inc., a Cupertino, Calif.-based global advanced biofuels company.
Zymetis will continue as a wholly owned subsidiary of AE Biofuels. AE Biofuels issued 6,673,555 common shares to Zymetis shareholders in the transaction, with 766,000 of the shares vesting over a three-year period.
The technical team of Zymetis will join AE Biofuels in similar roles. Zymetis founder Dr. Steve Hutcheson will join AE Biofuels' board of directors.
Zymetis is the third TAP portfolio company to be acquired in the past year. Martek Biosciences was acquired by Royal DSM N.V. and DataStream Content Solutions was acquired by Dolan Media.
"Zymetis' technology has already demonstrated the production of high-value chemicals to supply multi-billion-dollar global markets, but we lacked a commercialization platform," said Dr. Steve Hutcheson, founder of Zymetis and a cell biology and molecular genetics professor at the University of Maryland. "AE Biofuels has demonstrated operational global management capability, constructed and operated advanced biofuels plants, and has already achieved success in creating and adopting new technology through the conversion of first-generation biofuels facilities."
Zymetis holds four patents, with more than ten pending, on the Z-microbe, a marine organism that was originally discovered consuming plant cellulose at a high rate in the Chesapeake Bay. The genome of the Z-microbe has been fully sequenced by researchers at the University of Maryland. Zymetis' scientists discovered that the Z-microbe naturally generates about 90 enzymes that rapidly convert sugar, starch, and cellulose into useable chemicals and fuels.
By using the genetics of plants and microbes that naturally produce specialty chemicals, the Z-microbe has been converted to produce renewable chemicals and advanced fuels from renewable feedstocks.
"The combination of AE Biofuels and Zymetis enables the launch of new specialty chemical and renewable fuels products at an accelerated rate compared to the normal product development and construction cycle of three years or more," said Eric McAfee, chairman and CEO of AE Biofuels, Inc. "The technical and chemicals business development team at Zymetis joins almost 100 global employees at AE Biofuels whom currently operate 105 million gallons per year of biofuels plant capacity in the United States and India."
Zymetis' technology was developed at the university by Hutcheson and emeritus professor Ron Weiner. Hutcheson founded the company in 2006.
Throughout its development, Zymetis has made extensive use of the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (Mtech) entrepreneurship ecosystem, which educates potential entrepreneurs, helps them build successful companies, and connects them with university resources to help them succeed.
In 2006, Zymetis entered the Mtech VentureAccelerator Program, which helps faculty and students form successful companies around university-created technologies. The company sought expertise from Mtech's Bioprocess Scale-Up Facility (BSF) staff to determine how to mass-produce its enzymes. In 2008, Zymetis graduated to the TAP incubator.
From 2007-2010, the company won three Mtech Maryland Industrial Partnerships product development grants, for a total of $337,000, to accelerate its R&D.
Zymetis was founded in 2006 as a Maryland-based industrial biotechnology company to lead the way in bacterial reforming of complex biomass. Zymetis has engineered bacterium capable of converting whole plant materials into sugars that can then be used to make a range of commercially valuable products in the biochemical and biofuels industries. The company's flagship technology is the Zymetis Integrated Process (ZIP) whereby strains of the organism and its enzymes are used directly in the processing of biomass into sugars tailored for a particular industrial process. For additional information about Zymetis, please visit www.zymetis.com.
About the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (Mtech)
The mission of Mtech is to educate the next generation of technology entrepreneurs, create successful technology ventures, and connect Maryland companies with university resources to help them succeed. Founded in 1983, Mtech has had a $25.7 billion impact on the Maryland economy and helped create or retain more than 5,300 jobs. Top-selling products such as MedImmune's Synagis, which protects infants from a deadly respiratory disease, and Hughes Communications' HughesNet, which brings satellite-based, high-speed Internet access to the world, were developed through or enhanced by our programs. Billion dollar companies such as Martek Biosciences and Digene Corporation graduated from our incubator. Mtech offers three experiential learning programs and 30 entrepreneurship and innovation courses, served to 1,244 enrollees in 2010, at the pre-college, undergraduate, graduate and executive education levels. For more information about Mtech, please visit www.mtech.umd.edu.
About AE Biofuels
AE Biofuels, Inc. is a global advanced biofuels company based in Cupertino, California developing sustainable solutions to address the world's renewable energy needs. The company operates a 55 million gallon ethanol plant in California and received a $1.8 million California Energy Commission grant to commercialize its patent-pending next-generation cellulosic ethanol technology that enables the production of advanced biofuels from both non-food and traditional feedstocks. The company's wholly owned Universal Biofuels subsidiary built and operates a nameplate 50 million gallon per year biodiesel production facility on the east coast of India.
July 7, 2011