You’ve got oil in your bedroom closet. Well, not exactly oil, but products that made from petrochemicals like Spandex. Spandex can be found in swimsuits, socks, intimate apparel, sportswear, ski pants and biking gear, among other things.
Christophe Shilling, an entrepreneur with a PhD in bioengineering, aims to change that–with the help of renewable crops and genetically modified bugs. He’s the founder and CEO of a company called Genomatica, a pioneer in “green chemistry” that aims to replace petrochemicals with lower-cost, more environmentally-friendly chemicals made from renewable resources.
“We are catalyzing a transformation of the chemical industry—changing the raw materials that are being used to make the same exact molecules, the same exact plastics, the same end products,” Christophe says. “But instead of using hydrocarbons , we’re using carbohydrates.”
I met Christophe last week in Washington. A native of Grosse Point Park, Michigan, he’s just 37–he started Genomatica in 2000, right after earning his PhD., with the assistance of a $100,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, aimed at helping small businesses get started.
Based in San Diego, the company is no longer so small. It has about 65 employees and has raised about $85 million in venture capital, including a $45 million round announced early this month. Investors include VantagePoint Venture Partners, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Mohr Davidow, TPG and, interestingly, Waste Management. [click to continue…]