The $500 billion personal care and cosmetics industry is alarmingly reliant on raw materials from livestock. The three most important proteins in skincare and haircare products—collagen, keratin, and elastin—typically come from bovine hides, chicken feathers, and meat processing byproducts, respectively. Thus, cosmetics contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, water pollution, and deforestation. With two-thirds of consumers demanding cleaner beauty ingredients, the industry faces immense pressure to replace animal proteins with sustainable, cost-competitive alternatives.
Xias Bio has developed the world’s first molecular platform for creating multi-functional, animal-free proteins. Each one can do the work of three or more animal proteins. Xias licenses its proteins for manufacture to suppliers of global cosmetics, making industry adoption quick and easy. The Xias platform already has 2.6 million different proteins in its library, all of which can be made using the same modular, Lego-like base molecule and fermentation process.
Founded in Glasgow, Scotland by Dr. David Harvey, Dr. Faadil Fawzy, and Alister Minty, Xias brings over 20 years combined experience in protein design. The company has licensed its multi-function proteins to major leaders in the cosmetics industry. Though currently focused on cosmetics, Xias aims to replace animal proteins throughout the bioeconomy, from pharmaceuticals and therapeutics to AgTech and the food industry.
Farmers spend nearly $230 billion every year on herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers designed to increase crop yields. However, most of these chemicals are leached into the environment rather than absorbed by crops, causing pest resistance to biocides, biodiversity loss, and a litany of public health impacts. Somehow, the world needs to wind down agrochemical use while expanding food production to feed an additional 1.7 billion people by 2050.
Unibaio has developed a natural microparticle that can supercharge biological crop protectants by enabling them to penetrate plants more efficiently. Unibaio’s tech can also be used to reduce the amount of conventional chemical products needed by up to 80% while retaining their full impact on crop yields. Whether they make biological or synthetic crop protectants, manufacturers can mix Unibaio particles into their products to improve their margins and minimize harmful runoff.
Unibaio was co-founded by Claudia Casalongué, PhD, economist Matias Figliozzi, and Vera Alvarez, PhD. Their team of five has nearly 100 years of combined experience in crop biology and material sciences. Currently, they are running pilot programs with a top fertilizer manufacturer and a company pioneering biological herbicides. Unibaio is proving that the world can grow enough nutritious food for billions of people without compromising human and environmental health.
Discarded food accounts for 8-10% of greenhouse gas emissions and costs the global economy $940 billion per year. Upcycling surplus food is therefore critical to decarbonizing the food supply chain and curbing its massive appetite for water and deforested land.
Terra Bioindustries has developed a negative-emissions platform for upcycling brewer’s spent grain, a beer byproduct that is often difficult to sell. The company uses a low-energy enzymatic process to separate it into edible sugars and proteins which are then sold to food manufacturers and precision fermentation companies. The process relies on commercial equipment found in most food processing facilities, meaning adoption is inexpensive.
Today, Terra sources spent grain from microbreweries and one multinational brewer. The company has also partnered with a global food processor and a baked goods conglomerate to bring its upcycled ingredients to market. In addition, Terra is working with a major ethanol producer to upcycle spent corn using the same technology.
Terra co-founders Steve George, PhD, and Ricardo Martinez have over 20 combined years of experience as bioprocess engineers. Beer byproducts are just the beginning for their team. There’s another 1+ billion tons of discarded food waiting to be upcycled into valuable calories.
To feed a global population of 9.7 billion people by 2050, farmers need to produce 50% more calories than they do today. However, large-scale farms rely on synthetic fertilizers, which degrade their soil and release more CO2 emissions than global aviation and shipping combined.
Earnest Agriculture has designed a microbial consortium that protects crops against diseases, pests, and drought while improving soil health. Applied as a seed coating, it’s a triple whammy that can boost yields by 7x, reduce synthetic chemical use, and make crops more resilient to climate change. Earnest sources its patented microbes from natural prairies and uses a machine learning algorithm to formulate a microbe consortium that works in diverse climates and soil conditions. By focusing on the $570 billion livestock feed market first and crops for human consumption second, Earnest will minimize regulatory friction and get to market faster.
The grandchildren of farmers, co-founders Gabe Price, PhD, and Eddy Mejia launched Earnest in 2019. They currently have a paid pilot with CD Ford and Sons and field trials with the University of Illinois, Grand Farms, and Winfield United. A win for farmers, soils, and our climate, Earnest probiotics will play an important role in global food security.
Maritime shipping, aviation, and trucking will account for at least a tenth of global CO2 emissions by 2030 and cannot be electrified anytime soon. To meet EU emissions standards, cargo operators are already ordering methanol-powered ships. However, green methanol is currently produced using energy-intensive processes, resulting in a greenish fuel that can’t compete with oil on price—which is key to rapid adoption.
CarbonBridge is developing a low-heat, low-pressure microbial process that upcycles carbon dioxide and methane into liquid methanol using a patent-pending bioreactor. Here’s the kicker: CarbonBridge can source those gasses inexpensively from over 16,000 US wastewater treatment facilities that normally burn them off. Easily stored and transported with existing fuel infrastructure, methanol can also be upgraded into aviation fuel, diesel, and plastics like polyurethane.
CarbonBridge was founded by entrepreneur Manu Pillai, engineer William Koutny, and biologist Sophia Xu. The company will decarbonize heavy transportation starting in 2025 by unlocking energy from plentiful wastewater feeds.
Over 53 million tons of electronics are discarded every year, wasting $57 billion worth of recoverable metals. Typically incinerated, this e-waste releases toxic fumes, causing people serious health problems. Only 17% of e-waste is recycled because existing methods are too expensive, energy-intensive, and pollutive.
BioMetallica has developed the first eco-friendly biotechnology for recovering palladium, platinum, and rhodium at room temperature, with zero wastewater, at a competitive cost. These palladium group metals (PMGs) are rare. Indeed, one kilogram of rhodium can fetch over $145,000 in commodity markets.
BioMetallica uses genetically modified bacteria, cultivated in bioreactors, to produce biogenic chemicals that separate PMGs—and soon, gold and silver—from e-waste and spent catalytic converters. Co-founder KwaDwo (Joe) Konadu Ansah-Antwi, PhD, a repeat entrepreneur, partnered with Salman Karim, PhD, who developed the technology at the National University of Singapore, to turn e-waste into wealth.
Today, BioMetallica has a strategic partnership and an active pilot test with BR Metals Pte Ltd, the largest PMG recycler in Southeast Asia, and is currently negotiating another pilot project with an Indonesian tin mining outfit to recycle their mine tailings. The team aims to divert at least 1 million tons of e-waste from ending up at landfills over the next five to ten years.
Globally, one in ten women will suffer from endometriosis, a painful and debilitating gynecological condition. On average, women don’t get a proper diagnosis for five to twelve years after the onset of symptoms because, until now, the only reliable way to do so was via laparoscopic surgery that can cost over $20,000 and require three months of recovery. Moreover, endometriosis symptoms overlap with 25 other conditions, meaning undiagnosed women face years of costly trial-and-error treatment.
Afynia has created the first and only patented blood test for diagnosing endometriosis early. It returns a result in days, not years, and will be offered through clinics and home collection kits beginning in 2024. Based on decades of research by co-founders Dr. Lauren Foster, PhD, and Dr. Jocelyn Wessels, PhD, former academics at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, the endometriosis test is just the beginning. Afynia is building a digital women’s health platform that will provide diagnostics, virtual care, and prescription deliveries for endometriosis and other conditions.
For too long, the world has normalized and undertreated chronic pelvic pain. With Afynia, women have the opportunity to become full-fledged partners in their own healthcare.
Over 32 million cancer survivors face the risk of recurrence. Patients are told they are “cancer-free” only to discover that a few undetectable cancer cells survived initial treatment and have begun to multiply.
FREZENT is developing a novel class of bispecific antibodies for targeting dormant cancer cells that have survived chemotherapy and may cause recurrence. Their approach is to block metabolism in dormant cancer cells to prevent their reactivation and survival. The technology is based on the academic research of founder Dr. Natasha Shtraizent. She started the company when her mother was diagnosed with recurrent cancer and was joined by her co-founder Lina Freage-Kahn, just months after Lina lost her uncle to lymphoma.
The team is currently focused on monoclonal antibody discovery and proof-of-concept studies and is rapidly moving towards preclinical development in cancer animal models. FREZENT is backed by a strong advisory board of leaders in oncology and pharmacological drug development. Together, they are creating a future where long-lasting remission is the reality for all cancer survivors.
At least 1.7 billion people worldwide rely on contaminated drinking water, resulting in over 500,000 deaths per year. Concerningly, bacteria have grown resistant to standard water treatment chemicals like chlorine, which can no longer kill slimes (“biofilms”) that protect harmful bacteria and fungi and attach them to surfaces in our water infrastructure.
Aequor discovered marine microbes that produce molecules that eliminate bacterial slime in minutes, which the company now synthesizes at scale. Applied in water treatment facilities, Aequor’s liquid concentrate can reduce conventional chemical usage by 90%, lower energy usage by up to 15%, and prevent slime from clogging filters and causing shutdowns.
Co-founded by CEO Marilyn Bruno, Ph.D., J.D., and CSO Cynthia Burzell, Ph.D., a marine and medical microbiologist, Aequor has proven its efficacy in the field. In testing with NASA, its concentrate was 99.99% effective at killing resistant bacteria and bacterial slime for 15 months in the water reuse system used on board the International Space Station. Aequor has the first bio-inspired technology that can reduce the costs and environmental impact of water treatment while enabling billions more people to access safe, affordable drinking water.