DSM to buy C5 yeast technology company

| June 30, 2011

Royal DSM may have the tests to prove that the company’s yeast technology can convert 90 percent of hydrolyzed biomass in the cellulosic ethanol process, but that hasn’t stopped the life sciences company from strengthening its yeast technology. DSM has purchased the Netherlands-based, C5 Yeast Company, for an undisclosed amount. “This acquisition represents a key strategic step as we further strengthen our existing yeast platform and portfolio of bio-conversion technologies for second generation biofuels and biomaterials,” Rob van Leen, chief innovation officer for DSM said on the acquisition.

Although DSM has created a microorganism that can convert both the C6 and C5 biomass sugars produced by enzymes in a typical cellulosic process, the company noted the importance of C5 Yeast Co.’s ability to specifically convert the difficult C5 sugar fractions. Van Leen added that the move will increase the position of DSM in area of fermentation technology. “With our bright science and strong technology position we are bringing second generation biofuels closer to mass-scale production,” he said.

The area of second-generation biofuels is one that DSM believes will be huge in the U.S., with an expected market size of more than $1 billion by 2020, mostly related to the enzymes and yeast needed to convert agricultural residues and other wastes to biofuels. The recent acquisition of C5 Yeast Company isn’t the only move by DSM, the company has also been working with several other companies and expects to be part of several demonstration facilities set to come online in 2014, according the company.

In the statement announcing the acquisition, DSM noted that the company wants “to be the technology provider for the second generation biorefineries, providing enzymes to convert the biomass into a sugar mix and yeast to convert the C6 sugars as well as the C5 sugars.” DSM, the announcement said, “is convinced this will be a winning combination.”