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Lygos partners with Agile BioFoundry and DOE to accelerate bioproduct R&D and commercialization; two-year, $5M pilot collaboration

Lygos announced that the US Department of Energy is providing multi-year funding for Lygos’ collaboration with the Agile BioFoundry (ABF) to automate research technology. Lygos’ pilot collaboration is part of a multi-company two-year, $5-million effort coordinated by the ABF.

Lygos produces high-value specialty chemical traditionally produced in oil-based petrochemical processes in a process that uses commercially proven, acid-tolerant yeast and domestic sugars instead of petroleum, and has pioneered the world’s first bio-based production of malonic acid (a C3-dicarboxylic acid). (Earlier post.)

Malonic acid is a C3-dicarboxylic acid currently used as an intermediate. While capable of being used in a wider variety of applications, demand has been held back by malonic acid’s environmentally hazardous, expensive production process. The current process used to produce malonic acid requires sodium cyanide and chloroacetic acid; Lygos’ engineered yeast produces malonic acid from sugar and CO2, thereby decreasing the prodution cost and increasing the number of potential applications.

Lygos’ “Innovation Engine” R&D team will work directly with the ABF on the shared mission of building engineered microbes to manufacture a set of new high-value chemicals. Lygos’ earlier success with its Bio-Malonate program and its “L-Series” of proprietary industrial yeast that led to products such as malonic acid and its esters, made it an ideal partner for the ABF.

This DOE funding underscores the importance of our work with the Agile BioFoundry. Harnessing the power of microbes to produce important chemicals requires a less expensive, faster engineering cycle as well as new technologies to more effectively interrogate microbe performance. By pairing Lygos’ expertise designing, building, and optimizing pathways with the ABF’s capabilities in advanced automation we’ll be able to dramatically decrease the time required to commercialize new microbial products.

—Jeffrey Dietrich, Lygos’ Chief Technology Officer

This new collaboration will enable Lygos to accelerate its R&D capabilities and shorten the commercialization timelines required for subsequent products using the improved automation and analytical capabilities being developed. Lygos expects to receive about $1 million over the first two years of the program for its participation.

In 2016, DOE’s Bioenergy Technologies Office established the Agile BioFoundry—a new consortium of nine Energy Department national laboratories working to standardize and streamline the entire biomanufacturing pipeline by uniting computer-assisted biological pathway design, process integration, process scale-up, and machine learning.

The Agile BioFoundry is focused on developing, deploying and uniting tools, technologies, software, and instrumentation across the National Laboratory system for the robust and predictive engineering of biology for the production of biofuels and renewable chemicals from domestic, non-food lignocellulosic biomass. Central to this effort is developing databases and machine learning methods to enable better, automated design of bioprocesses with predictable performance and scaling.

Lygos is venture-backed by 50 Years, First Round Capital, IA Ventures, OS Fund, Vast Ventures and the Y Combinator Continuity Fund, along with notable angel investors. Lygos’ R&D was originally funded by the US Department of Energy, US Department of Agriculture, and the National Science Foundation.

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