Columns of Support

Leveraging private and government funding to accelerate growth
By Bryan Sims | September 20, 2011

At the National Clean Energy Summit 4.0 in Las Vegas in August, Vice President Joe Biden praised the efforts of five innovative cleantech companies that obtained seed funding from the U.S. DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy in 2009 and 2010, and attracted more than $100 million in outside private capital investment to advance their commercialization efforts.

Among those receiving both private and federal funding was Colorado-based biotech outfit OPX Biotechnologies Inc., which was awarded a $6 million grant by the DOE in April 2010 and subsequently secured $36.5 million in a Series C investment round in July.    

OPXBio’s immediate focus is the production of biobased acrylic acid, an estimated $8 billion market that’s growing 3 to 4 percent per year. Acrylic acid is a key chemical building block used in a wide range of consumer goods including paints, adhesives, diapers and detergents.

Together with project partners, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Johnson Matthey Catalysts LLC, OPXBio is leveraging federal funding to concurrently develop its second product, a biodiesel-like fuel processed from carbon dioxide and hydrogen via a fermentation pathway.
Biden said the private sector financing reflects the progress companies such as OPXBio have made over the past two years toward developing new technologies that could transform the way Americans use and produce energy.

“These five companies are swinging for the fences, pioneering new technologies that could help answer the energy challenge and create jobs,” Biden says. “They illustrate how a small but strategic investment by the federal government can pay big dividends down the road and bring into the market groundbreaking new technologies.” 

—Bryan Sims