Written by Sam Bendziewicz

Amyris is a seven-year-old biotechnology company based out of Emeryville, California solving some of this world’s most daunting challenges including treatment of malaria and renewable fuel alternatives.

Amyris started as a non-profit group funded by a five year grant sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to the Institute for OneWorld Health.  This sponsorship allowed Amyris to develop a technology to solve the malaria crisis all over the world.  Each year, malaria claims more than a million lives worldwide and kills nearly 2,000 children every day.  Amyris’s technology created microbial strains to produce a chemical precursor to artemisinin, which is much more time efficient and cost effective than the normal process of extracting the compound from the Chinese Sweet Wormwood plant. 

This technology is poised to create a lower price production of artemisinin that can get to market in a more timely fashion at a lower price to the people who need it. After some success, Amyris has raised over $120 million from Total S.A., Khosla Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, TPG Biotech and DAG Ventures.  With this funding they have been able to develop a new type of renewable diesel fuel.  Amyris’ renewable diesel is made from Biofene® and does not require an engine conversion like many of the biodiesels available today. The main advantages over current biodiesels that Amyris’ fuel offers nearly a 90% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions when compared to petroleum-based diesel and there is no need to convert any engine parts to be able to use the fuel.

As Amyris moves forward they hope to continue to expand their alternative fuels to replace petroleum and coal-derived jet fuel.  Amyris is poised to revolutionize the biofuel market and is doing its part in reducing the dependence on fossil fuels while making more a more environmentally friendly fuel.



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