BioAmber secures licensing agreement with Celexion

By Bryan Sims | March 17, 2011

While BioAmber may be better known for the successful commercialization of biobased succinic acid, its first biochemical, the company is now planning to add biobased adipic acid to its product portfolio. It entered into an exclusive licensing agreement with Cambridge, Mass.-based bioengineering company Celexion for technology related to the production of biobased adipic acid and other chemical intermediates.  

Over the past year, BioAmber has successfully applied its breakthrough succinic acid purification process at its 3,000 metric ton demonstration production facility in Pomacle, France, which uses wheat-derived glucose as feedstock. BioAmber now looks to capitalize on a global adipic acid market valued at about $8 billion. Through its licensing deal with Celexion, BioAmber intends to leverage its succinic acid expertise, infrastructure, partnerships and customer base to accelerate the development of biobased adipic acid, according to Mike Hartmann, vice president of corporate affairs for BioAmber.

“We think [the license agreement with Celexion] is very exciting,” Hartmann told Biorefining Magazine. “We’re using what we’ve learned in our scale-up from biosuccinic acid to go to biobased adipic acid, which has a much bigger market.”

To support its adipic acid platform, BioAmber has established a 27,000 square-foot R&D facility in Plymouth, Minn., with capabilities in molecular biology, fermentation and analytical chemistry, Hartmann said.

“Renewable chemicals such as biobased adipic acid will become critical building blocks of the future economy,” said Brian Baynes, CEO of Celexion. “Given BioAmber’s leadership position in succinic acid and the natural extension of its assets to adipic acid, we are very pleased to partner with BioAmber for commercialization of our adipic acid technology.”

Hartmann said that BioAmber’s biobased adipic acid will be derived from similar feedstocks used for the company’s production of its biosuccinic acid at the Plymouth R&D site, adding that BioAmber hasn’t set a definitive timeline as to when commercial quantities of the new product would be available.  

In addition to its license agreement with Celexion, BioAmber has been licensing succinic acid derivatives from DuPont Applied Biosciences and has a controlling stake in Sinoven Biopolymers for the production of modified polybutylene succinate polymers, or mPBS, which are biodegradable aliphatic polyester nanocomposites.

“Celexion does potentially allow us to get into other molecules as well,” Hartmann said, “but obviously the first one we’re going to be focusing on will be adipic acid.”

BioAmber has also built a strong patent portfolio covering the use of succinate salts, and in particular potassium succinate, which can be used in deicing and anti-icing applications.