A Sydney startup inventing new yeast strains to turn crops into fuel is eyeing an ASX listing in hopes of cashing in on the growing biofuels market.
MicroBioGen, which is headed up by former investment banking analyst Geoff Bell, has shown that its modified version of a common yeast can turn non-food products, like agricultural waste and timber offcuts, into a low-carbon bioethanol and high-protein food products.
Mr Bell said the company, which was founded in 2001 to spin out his brother Philip’s molecular biology research, has developed a product which reduces the operating costs of making these biofuels by as much as 25 per cent.
“Our competitive advantage is we spent 15 years developing the technology, and for others to catch up it will take them 10 to 15 years to do it,” he said.
The company has a range of institutional investors including Danish biotech Novozymes, which is the largest industrial biotech in the world and holds a 25 per cent stake. MicroBioGen’s $8 million yeast development project had support from a $4 million grant from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.
Mr Bell said now the company was now considering a public float later in 2021, given it has now proven itself a leading technology for “second generation” biofuels, which are able to convert a wider range of materials into fuel and food. The company is yet to divulge the size of the IPO or the potential market valuation.
“If we float the company, we want to turn Sydney into an industrial biotech hub,” he said.
Australia’s biotechnology sector has received plenty of attention throughout COVID-19, but industrial biotech, which focuses on new ways of making food and energy, has had less attention.
Mr Bell said that “we’re pretty much it” when it comes to Australian companies focusing on this type of innovation.
However, he believes investors will be interested in the opportunities on offer from the company.
“The world is your oyster when it comes to industrial biotech – we can make it work.”
Extracted from The Sydney Morning Herald