Origin.Bio seeks to replace exploitative production systems with generative systems by using biology. The company wants to provide environmentally conscious products to consumers worldwide by producing the same or better ingredients as the traditional chemical industrial process but using 10 times less energy and producing close to zero waste. By Urs Moesenfechtel
The aim of Origin.Bio is to go far beyond previous circular economy goals and activities and create product designs, production and business models which go back to the origin of the meaning of sustainability. Focused on regeneration, the ambitious goal is to win leading consumer brands as customers and thereby to transform the chemical industry.
Origin.Bio: Co-creation with nature
Founded in 2021, Origin.Bio strives to produce naturally chemicals of interest by using microorganisms. Currently they are focusing on two main technology platforms: lipids, and flavours and fragrances. For lipid production, Carbocycle, a NY-based company co-founded by Columbia University was aquired and integrated in September 2021. Scientists there produce microbial lipids. The microbially produced lipids are focused initially on food and cosmetic applications but have the potential to provide solutions for pharmaceuticals, textiles and other industries. For flavours and fragrances, Origin.Bio developed a technology which works with microorganisms including E-coli and yeast. Cosmetic and food products need resourceintensive ingredients that can make or break the final product. With precision fermentation techniques, Origin.Bio wants to solve this sourcing problem leveraging multiple microorganisms producing superior options than those chemically-derived. Other acquisitions, inlicensing and the expansion of facilities are ongoing.
Quickly scaled and locally produced
“Most of the products people use today stem from petrochemicals, including plastic, medicine, clothing, and personal care products. The energy consumed and waste generated in their production is at the core of our planetary crisis. Our processes help companies create sustainable products with a lower CO2 footprint,” states Jens Klein, Founder and CEO of Origin.Bio. Through its own integrated medium and large-scale facilities, Origin.Bio can offer proper conditions for different volumes of production. The team includes specialists who evaluate the socioecological impact along the lifecycle and value chain in comparison to traditional extractive economies. The production is local, i.e. in Europe, avoiding global value chain disruption, seasonality issues and geopolitical conflicts, and guaranteeing predictability for sourcing.
Believing in convergence
Brands and Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) are often poorly integrated into value chains. This is where Origin.Bio comes in: it collaborates with these B2B partners to drive innovations based on the properties of the chemicals required and demanded by conscious citizens. Unlike the common technology push of science driven start-ups, Origin.Bio starts from the market and the market needs. At the core is a flexible approach to technology development and investment in scouting for both in-house and licensing technologies. In doing so, Origin.Bio wants to bridge the gap between R&D-focused organisations and brands/OEMs to bring innovations to market. It stands not only for the convergence of technologies but also of experiences. Through its team, Origin.Bio can draw from the expertise of team members with backgrounds in academic institutions, management consultancies and from companies including AMSilk, Clariant, Evonik, Fresenius, Syngenta, Modern Meadow, Biosyntia among others.
Their technologies are of high interest to others
“There has been no shortage of climate-focused innovation in labs and start-ups across the globe, but the science has been very difficult to scale. The transition towards a regenerative future requires substantial capital,” says Klein, summing up the necessity, but also the difficulty of actually bringing good ideas to the market. Origin.Bio was able to master this difficulty in the first round. The company raised EUR 13 million in the seed funding round led by EQT Ventures. Existing investor BlueYard Capital also participated in the round along with new investors including Taavet Hinrikus and Sten Tamkivi, Acequia Capital, Possible Ventures and Charlie Songhurst.
Short profile of Origin.Bio
Urs Moesenfechtel, M.A. (geb. 1978) studierte von 1998 bis 2005 Germanistik, Erwachsenenpädagogik und Politikwissenschaften an den Universitäten Köln und Leipzig. Von 2013 bis 2020 war er am Helmholtz-Zentrum für Umweltforschung (UFZ) als Presse- und Öffentlichkeitsreferent für die Themen Naturkapital und Bioökonomie zuständig. 2021 gab er das Buch "Das System Biokonomie" heraus, das 2022 auch auf Englisch erschien. 2021 übernahm er die Interimskoordination des Deutschen Bioökonomierats. 2021 und 2022 war er Wissenschaftsredakteur für das Deutsche Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig. Seit 2021 ist er als Redakteur für die GoingPublic Media AG - Plattform Life Sciences für die Themenfelder Biotechnologie und Bioökonomie zuständig.