Synthetic Biology Startup Lygos Closes $13 Million Venture Financing to Target Trillion Dollar* Oil-Based Specialty Chemical Industry

A pioneer in developing microbial manufacturing processes for specialty chemicals, Lygos is first to create bio-based malonic acid, a key chemical used in electronics manufacturing, flavor and fragrances, coatings and other manufacturing processes

BERKELEY, CA--(Marketwired - Dec 13, 2016) - Lygos, Inc., a bio-based specialty chemicals company, today announced the closing of $13 million in Series A financing led by IA Ventures and OS Fund. Other investors include First Round Capital, the Y Combinator Continuity Fund, 50 Years and Vast Ventures, along with notable angel investors.

Lygos produces high-value specialty chemicals -- traditionally produced in oil-based petrochemical processes -- in a process that uses domestic sugars instead of dirty and dangerous oil, and has pioneered the world's first bio-based production of malonic acid. Lygos has already engineered and is shipping to customers the first Bio-malonic™ acid-producing microbes that are a replacement for the dangerous cyanide-based process that manufacturers currently use in this quarter billion dollar annual market**. Lygos has created an engineering development platform that combines software and new biochemistry technology to engineer microbes optimized to produce the industry's highest-quality specialty chemicals at scale much faster, safer, and more reliably than traditional petroleum-based production methods.

"Chemicals are an essential ingredient for human progress, but their oil-based production process often has disastrous side-effects," said Brad Gillespie, general partner at IA Ventures. "We invested in Lygos because they harness the power of machine learning, microbes, and American manufacturing to deliver these essential chemicals in a clean sustainable way, and create manufacturing jobs in the process. Today they are already the world-leader in sustainable scalable chemical production."

Most specialty chemicals manufactured from oil today can also be made using Lygos' technology of engineered microbes with sugar and water -- similar to the simple and safe production processes perfected by humans for brewing beer, wine and making bread over the last 5,000+ years.

"This is the Industrial Revolution of synthetic biology," said Jeffrey Klunzinger, managing partner at venture capital firm OS Fund. "We look at synthetic biology as a greenfield opportunity. Lygos uniquely has the technology to produce a stable supply of industrial chemicals with no environmental impact and at lower cost. They are building better products that are clean, sustainable and have cost and quality advantages over their petrochemical counterparts."

Operated similar to breweries, Lygos' production technology and its facilities for manufacturing specialty chemicals have the potential to transform the global manufacturing environment for this product and for manufacturing growth in the U.S., Europe and beyond. Because Lygos' production technology uses microbes -- not oil and explosive and toxic chemistries -- it can run in facilities that meet even the most stringent safety and environmental controls of Europe and the U.S. Lygos can give customers -- who otherwise rely on dangerous and polluting oil-based production methods based thousands of miles away -- a much safer and more reliable supply and distribution chain.

"These investors have enabled us to deliver on the promise of our technology through new and existing products. We are delivering metric ton quantities of our Bio-malonic™ acid products to customers using Lygos' technology that requires no fossil fuels, no cyanide, and no environmental degradation," said Eric Steen, co-founder and CEO of Lygos. "We are excited to enter this next phase of growth and continue building our team, our manufacturing and QC infrastructure, all while providing more fuel for our innovation engine to develop the next new products using our microbial manufacturing technology."

About Lygos, Inc.
Lygos creates microbial-based end-to-end manufacturing solutions at the cutting-edge juncture of biology and technology to provide market-transforming product opportunities. Lygos' first products -- malonic acid and derivatives -- replace low-quality petrochemical products produced at high economic and environmental cost in countries without strong environmental protection programs. Founded by Jeffrey Dietrich, Clem Fortman, Jay Keasling, Leonard Katz, and Eric Steen out of U.C. Berkeley Labs in 2010, Lygos' R&D was originally funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the National Science Foundation. For more information, visit

*SOURCE: October 2016, Global Markets Insight, Inc.
**SOURCE: September 2016, Grand View Research.

Bio-malonic acid™ are trademarks of Lygos, Inc.

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Lonn Johnston for Lygos