Virdia, formerly HCL CleanTech, a leading developer of cellulosic sugars, today announced major company milestones, including a new brand and CEO, its latest funding round, and a $75 million deal with the Mississippi Development Authority to build manufacturing plants in the state, as reported by Business Wire.
Founded in 2007 in Israel as HCL CleanTech, Virdia has developed the CASE™ process, which converts cellulosic biomass to high quality fermentable sugars and lignin, and is based on a series of patented and patent-pending technologies. The Company received financing in the beginning of its activity from the BIRD Foundation, which promotes American-Israeli cooperations in the cleantech arena.
New Chief Executive Officer Philippe Lavielle is a veteran of the industrial biotech sector. Lavielle replaces Co-founder Eran Baniel as CEO, who now serves as vice president of business development. Before joining Virdia, Lavielle was a member of the executive management at Genencor, a $1 billion world leader in industrial enzymes recently acquired by DuPont, where his responsibilities included global business development in the fields of renewable energy and biochemicals.
“This is an exciting and pivotal time for Virdia, and I am pleased to bring my experience to bear in leading the company through its next stage of commercialization,” said Lavielle. “The momentum we are experiencing in funding and our plans to scale up manufacturing move us that much closer to realizing our mission on a large scale. Virdia is well positioned to be the frontrunner in the race to make cellulosic sugars a reality – an indispensable step for the success of the bioeconomy.”
To fund its piloting activities and engineering plans, Virdia recently closed its latest round of financing, raising over $20 million from insiders, Khosla Ventures, Burrill & Company and Tamar Ventures. In addition, the company closed $10 million in a venture debt deal with Triple Point Capital.
“Virdia’s process of converting biomass to fermentable sugars will be very attractive economically once it is deployed at scale. Virdia’s sugars have been tested by various partners in tens of chemical and biochemical applications, and the feedback is overwhelmingly positive,” said Greg Young, managing director, Burrill & Company. “Cellulosic sugars are really the gateway to advanced biofuels and biochemicals, and Virdia is leading that charge.”
The company also announces that it recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the Mississippi Development Authority to build manufacturing facilities in the biomass-rich state. The agreement includes an incentive package with $75 million in low-interest loans, as well as up to $155 million in various tax incentives over a 10-year period. Virdia’s cellulosic sugar plants are expected to create hundreds of new jobs over the same decade.
Virdia’s products are cost competitive, and are setting new standards for industrial use of cellulosic sugars and lignin. Applications range from renewable fuels and fuel intermediates, including diesel, jet fuel, ethanol and butanol; renewable chemicals and materials such as biosurfactants, lubricants, plastics and synthetic rubber; and nutritional additives such as baker’s yeast and amino acids for the animal feed industry.
For the full press release on Business Wire click here.