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The classes of 2015 and 2016: Where are they now?

C&EN’s Start-Ups to Watch had an exciting year

by Melody M. Bomgardner
November 6, 2017 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 95, Issue 44

Starting a company is one thing—making it grow is the tough part. Join C&EN as we check in on our start-up classes of 2015 and 2016 to see what happened this year.

AgriMetis (class of 2016), a crop protection company using biotech insights, raised $23.5 million in a second round of funding in January. In September, the company published a patent for l-glufosinate, the active isomer of racemic glufosinate, which is an herbicide sold by Bayer under the brand name Liberty.

Bolt Threads (class of 2015), a synthetic spider silk developer, has a partnership with clothing designer Stella McCartney. In October, Bolt Threads and McCartney unveiled a dress made from Bolt Threads’ Microsilk at an exhibition at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art called “Is Fashion Modern?”

Carbon (class of 2015), a three-dimensional printing technology firm, launched a line of industrial-grade, connected products, including the Smart Part Washer and M2 printer. In April, Carbon partnered with Adidas to launch the Futurecraft 4D shoe, the first high-performance footwear created with Carbon’s Digital Light Synthesis technology.

Continuus Pharmaceuticals (class of 2016) was awarded a $4.4 million contract by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration to develop a science- and risk-based approach to monitoring and improving drug quality through continuous manufacturing. The three-year grant will enable Continuus to build a pilot plant for testing its approach.

Inpria (class of 2016), a developer of advanced photoresists for computer chips, secured $23.5 million in series B funding from investors including Air Liquide, Applied Materials, Intel, JSR, and Samsung. Inpria says it will use the money to scale up production of its tin oxide-based photoresists at a facility in Corvallis, Ore.

Liquid Light (class of 2015), a CO2-to-chemicals electrocatalytic company, was sold to the Dutch research firm Avantium for an undisclosed sum. A few Liquid Light employees transferred to Avantium, which also took over a portfolio of more than 100 patents and patent applications covering electrochemical methods for making ethylene glycol and other building-block chemicals.

NOHMs Technologies (class of 2015), a battery materials developer, inked two joint development partnerships with electric vehicle manufacturers in Europe. It closed a round of funding that will support work to qualify its products for use in cell phones and electric vehicles.

Olivo Laboratories (class of 2016), a developer of polymeric skin treatments, is recruiting volunteers to test the company’s XPL second-skin treatment, also known as “Spanx for the face.” It’s looking for men and women between the ages of 30 and 69 with bulging under-eye bags to participate in a paid trial of the noninvasive treatment.

polySpectra (class of 2016), a developer of olefin metathesis materials for 3-D printing, raised a seed round of funding to support the launch of COR Alpha, an engineering photopolymer. The company is working with industrial partners to demonstrate COR Alpha’s ability to form high-performance parts.

SLIPS Technologies (class of 2015), a maker of slippery coatings, raised $8.6 million in June from investors including Anzu Partners, BASF Venture Capital, entrepreneur Hansjörg Wyss, and Massachusetts Clean Energy Center. SLIPS got $3.0 million of the funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy to test antifouling paints.

Twist Bioscience (class of 2015), a biotech with silicon-based DNA synthesis technology, raised $60 million, bringing its total funding to $191 million. The company is growing its synthetic DNA business, increasing its investments in drug discovery and DNA digital storage, and working with Synbio Technologies to manufacture genes as long as 70 kilobases.


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