Solugen is a biomaterials startup using CRISPR gene-editing technology. They raised $4.4 million in seed funding for their plant-based bio-peroxide technology. Solugen will use the funding to expand distribution of its bioperoxide and launch a consumer brand of household cleaning products. Investors include Refactor and Social Capital.
Solugen, which calls itself a “green chemistry” company, uses plant starch combined with specialized enzymes to manufacture a biological version of hydrogen peroxide (called Bioperoxide), a common household and industrial chemical used as an oxidizer, bleaching agent, and disinfectant.
Founders Sean Hunt and Gaurab Chakrabarti have developed a proprietary micro-manufacturing platform, which combines an enzyme production method that uses the CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing tool and a bio-reactor to create the substance. This process avoids the petroleum products used as a substrate in traditional peroxide manufacturing and leads to a safer end product, according to the company.
“Hydrogen peroxide is recognized worldwide as a safe and effective cleaning ingredient, but is incredibly dangerous and energy-intensive to create and transport,” said Chakrabarti. “Sean and I wanted to not only develop a technology that reduces the waste and pollution in the production process but also create a purer product that would be clean and safe to use in our homes with our own families.”
From the company’s founding in early 2016, Solugen has sold bioperoxide as a cleaner for float spas, hot tubs, and pools, which landed the pair of founders on the 2017 Forbes 30 under 30 list for manufacturing. But the company recently pivoted to focus on its consumer brand and licensing “micro-manufacturing units” as opposed to selling the liquid itself.
Solugen’s goal is to license the manufacturing tech to large industrial chemical producers or even the end users of peroxide, who may wish to produce it on site. The units will be roughly the size of a brewery tank, but with an adaptable, modular design, according to the company.