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Amyris and Kuraray expand collaboration in farnesene-based polymers; tires and beyond

2 April 2014

Amyris and Kuraray Co., Ltd., a global chemical products company with a long history of commercializing a range of resins, fibers, textiles and other materials, announced the expansion and extension of their ongoing collaboration in high performance polymers using Biofene, Amyris’s brand of renewable farnesene. Amyris and Kuraray launched their collaboration in 2011 with an initial focus on using Biofene-based polymers to replace petroleum-derived feedstocks in tires. (Earlier post.)

During this time, Kuraray has developed Biofene-based liquid rubber (LFR) that reacts with tire rubber more easily than traditional materials and strengthens adhesion of rubber components to improve tire shape, stability, and performance. Today, leading tire manufacturers are conducting field, safety and performance tests of Kuraray’s Biofene-based liquid rubber in their tire formulations with a number of these tests nearing conclusion.

Also, during this period, Kuraray produced and began customer sampling and product evaluation for a new category of elastomers, Hydrogenated Styrenic Farnesene Copolymer (HSFC), which have shown to have improved flow properties and low residual strain, opening opportunities for vibration dampening product applications.

Kuraray has been a strong collaboration partner over the last two years, and I welcome our expanding work together in developing and commercializing high performance materials from Biofene. Based on the positive feedback from tire manufacturers for Liquid Farnesene Rubber, we remain confident that Biofene will play a critical role in improving the sustainability of the tire industry. We are also encouraged that with Kuraray in Japan we are launching a new category of elastomers made from Biofene.

—John Melo, President & CEO of Amyris

Under the transaction agreements, the parties have extended the duration of the research and development portion of their collaboration for at least two more years. The parties also reaffirmed their commercialization goals by expanding types of, and fields of use for, Kuraray polymer products containing Biofene. As detailed in the agreement, Amyris will receive an undisclosed amount of collaboration funding over the next two years, and Kuraray will purchase approximately $4 million of Amyris’s common stock in April of this year.

Our joint technical progress in the last two years has been tremendous, and we are optimistic about the commercialization of farnesene-based polymers with Amyris in the near future and our expanded ongoing collaboration to new polymer products, including viscosity index improvers, sealants, and adhesives.

—Tomoyuki Aya, Senior Executive Officer of Kuraray

Kuraray was established in 1926. In 1950, the company achieved a corporate milestone as the first in the world to bring polyvinyl alcohol synthetic fiber to market. In subsequent years, Kuraray used its proprietary technology in the area of polymer chemistry and synthetic chemistry to develop resins, chemicals, fibers and textiles, and other products for use in a wide variety of end applications. Kuraray has overseas subsidiaries in 19 countries.

Amyris uses its industrial synthetic biology platform to convert plant sugars into a variety of molecules that can be used in a wide range of products. Amyris’ initial portfolio of commercial products is based on Biofene, Amyris’ brand of renewable farnesene, a long-chain hydrocarbon.

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Comments

Good grief. This story just continues to drag on. AMRS was one of the "CleanTech" darlings, along with KIOR and others, that absorbed massive investor and Federal grants in the '09-'11 period, with AMRS peaking in early '11 at over 30. It's dumped 80+% of its value since then. With revenues dropping by 2/3rds and losses rising to all-time highs, they carry (USD566M) of retained earnings (losses) on the balance sheet. Time to take this dog behind the barn and put it out of its misery.

Good to know the CEO managed to pull down over USD600k salary last year as the mess got worse...

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