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Low-Cost Sugars for Cellulosic Biofuels

sorghum
New traits for crops like sorghum will decrease biomass processing costs leading to lower-cost biofuels.
(cc) Hermann Falkner

Biofuel such as ethanol start as sugars. The more expensive it is to produce those sugars, the more expensive the biofuel. Now, biotech company Agrivida is collaborating with Syngenta Ventures to develop advanced crop technology that will provide low-cost sugars for a variety of industrial applications including biofuels and biochemicals.

Agrivida will bolster its existing technology portfolio, including its proprietary intein trait platform, with technology licensed from Syngenta that will be used to develop new traits for multiple crops, including corn, sorghum, switchgrass, and miscanthus. Agrivida’s traits will make next-generation bioproducts more affordable by significantly decreasing biomass processing costs associated with non-food agricultural residues and dedicated biomass crops.

Announcing the collaboration, Mr. Mark Wong, Agrivida’s Chief Executive Officer, said, “Agrivida is excited to be able to accelerate our product development through our relationship with Syngenta Ventures, the venture capital arm of Syngenta, one of the world’s leading agribusiness companies. The combination of Agrivida’s proprietary intein platform with Syngenta’s technology will allow us to provide an integrated solution for feedstock and enzyme delivery to a wide range of industrial customers. Technologies developed through our collaboration will provide growers, processors, seed partners, and all members of the value chain with crops that enable cost-effective products from cellulosic biomass, and in turn helps to transform this emerging industry.”

Agrivida’s deal with Syngenta is the latest in a number of recent successes for the company. In July, Agrivida announced breakthroughs in its development of sugar production from enzyme-expressing crops at the annual BIO industry conference, which followed recent awards from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) to further develop its proprietary technology platforms in sorghum and switchgrass.

Agrivida, Inc., headquartered in Medford, Massachusetts, is the commercial leader in developing improved crops for production of biofuels and bioproducts from non-food agricultural residues and dedicated biomass crops. The company has entered into research and development agreements with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the USDA, ARPA-E, and other corporations. The company received the DOE’s 2008 “Energy Innovator Award.” With expertise in protein engineering, molecular biology, plant biotechnology, agronomy, and chemical engineering, Agrivida is leading the industry in the development of innovative, sustainable crops and processes to meet energy needs and protect the environment.

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