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Editorial: C&EN announces 10 Start-ups to Watch for 2022

by Bibiana Campos Seijo
November 4, 2022 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 100, Issue 39


Credit: Christian Gralingen

It’s time to announce C&EN’s 10 Start-Ups to Watch for 2022. This program, which launched in 2015, highlights groundbreaking start-up companies and their founders who are using chemistry to solve the world’s most pressing problems. Their science covers the breadth of our field. For example, Air Company produces chemicals and fuels from carbon dioxide, Delix Therapeutics is working to develop psychedelic analogs without hallucinatory effects to treat mental illness, Sepion Technologies focuses on the manufacture of lithium-metal batteries for electric vehicles, and ZwitterCo uses zwitterionic polymers for wastewater treatment.

Some of the solutions these firms are working on use new science. Others are pushing existing technologies to the next level. Some have large pools of money. Others have more modest funds. Whatever the case, these firms have chemistry at their core and have started on a difficult path. According to PitchBook, it takes an average of nearly 2 years for a start-up to secure its first round of funds. Many do not make it very far: about 90% of start-ups fail. Around 10% fold in the first year and 70% during years 2–5, according to Embroker.

But that difficult path can also be rewarding. Success is possible for the firms in C&EN’s 10 Start-Ups to Watch, and we are confident that they have a good chance at longevity and long-term sustainability.

How did we choose these companies? Throughout the year, C&EN readers from around the world submitted nominations via our website. We also tracked the launch of new companies as part of C&EN’s business coverage. In total, we had more than 200 companies to choose from.

After careful consideration, we picked 10 promising companies for their science’s potential impact and the diversity of problems they are trying to solve. Turn to page 20 to learn more about them.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, many of these start-ups are located in the US, where there is a very vibrant and active venture capital ecosystem. According to Crunchbase, the US has the highest level of start-up investment relative to its population—about $800 for every person in the country in 2021, totaling around $270 billion.

Within the US, Massachusetts takes the crown in our group: four of our start-ups are based in the state. California and New York host one start-up each, and interestingly, Boulder, Colorado, has two. This year we have two international firms on our list, one in France and the other in Israel.

In terms of the founders behind these start-ups, there is great diversity of backgrounds and experience. It is satisfying to see two of C&EN’s Talented 12 alums— Exo Therapeutics’ Juan Pablo Maianti and Air Company’s Stafford Sheehan—forging on as entrepreneurs. It speaks to the caliber of scientists that have been featured in the Talented 12 program so far.

Although only 10 firms made our list, there are many interesting start-ups in our field, and “On Our Radar” highlights a handful of them (see page 40). These are early-stage companies that we are watching because of the potential in the technologies they are developing. For example, Caelux is working on improving the performance of solar cells by coating the glass with perovskite, Chinova Bioworks is developing preservatives from chitosan from discarded mushroom stems, and Cinthesis is working to scale up mechanochemical technologies.

That is it for C&EN’s 10 Start-Ups to Watch for 2022. If you know about an interesting start-up with chemistry at its core, let us know.

The nomination form for the 2023 cycle is already open, and you can find it at

Views expressed on this page are those of the author and not necessarily those of ACS.


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