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C&EN's 2015 10 Start-Ups To Watch

Young companies use chemistry to tackle global problems

by Lisa M. Jarvis
November 2, 2015 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 93, Issue 43


Year after year, readers tell us they want to hear more about young companies working on promising chemistry. C&EN obliges by regularly profiling chemistry-centric companies, including start-ups firms. This week we are digging even deeper.

In the following pages, we present the stories of 10 start-ups working across a wide range of fields—from agriculture to biotechnology to materials science and beyond. Whether they’re trying to treat a debilitating disease or extend the life of your cell phone battery, these companies are united by a common theme: They all are using groundbreaking chemistry to solve real-world problems.

Several of the companies profiled were created by academicians with an entrepreneurial itch, including a few founded by chemists who in graduate school had an idea they just couldn’t shake. Some have substantial backing from venture firms or corporate partners; others are still working to validate their technology.

We arrived at this diverse collection by polling knowledgeable staffers, scouring databases of start-ups, and asking tuned-in sources for recommendations. A team of business reporters then narrowed that long list to the 10 firms highlighted here. Our goal was to represent the breadth of chemical sciences and showcase companies that are taking ambitious, sometimes contrarian, approaches to developing novel technology.

We believe these companies display excellent science; we also acknowledge the oft-cited statistic that nine out of 10 start-ups fail. Inventions that seem promising sometimes have a fatal flaw. Even companies with sound business plans aren’t immune to the challenges of making the leap from idea to marketplace.

Still, we’re hopeful these firms will beat those odds. If they do, in the not-so-distant future, all of us will be able to sport shirts spun from spider silk, scroll on smartphones with seemingly endless battery life, ride bicycles with recyclable frames, and cure infections with safer antibiotics.

Find out what each company has been up to since they appeared on C&EN’s 2015 Top Start-ups List by clicking here.

10 Start-ups to Watch


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