Synthetic biology start-ups developing technologies to convert biomass and other non-petroleum feedstocks into chemicals and materials need, on average, 7.4 years to launch a product, according to a Lux Research analysis. Using this data to project the output from the current crop of young synbio companies suggests most are likely to launch first products between 2017 and 2022, with a peak occurring between 2019 and 2020.
The bio-based materials and chemicals industry is poised to attract nearly $1 billion in investment this year, led notably by later-stage funding rounds, according to Lux Research. The estimated $974 million investment represents a 28% increase from 2013, suggesting companies that endured the waves of economic disruption have gained maturity and regained investors’ confidence.
The 53.2 billion gallon a year (BGY) biofuel industry is poised for a huge slowdown in capacity growth, to a 3.2% annual rate from 2013 to 2017 – reaching 60.4 billion gallons – off from 19.6% annually from 2005 to 2013, according to Lux Research. The sharp decline is on account of a significant industry transition to novel fuels and feedstocks, to enable long-term growth in the face of impediments like the food vs. fuel debate and the imminent blend limits for biodiesel and ethanol. Next-generation biofuels – such as renewable diesel and butanol – that can offer higher blends, in contrast, are not quite mature.