CEO-in-Residence Program Funded by Benedum
A significant lesson in the world of commercialization is that it is
very difficult for start-up companies to succeed without an
experienced leader at the helm from the beginning. Indeed, venture
capital firms have led the way in recruiting seasoned leadership to
guide companies in which they invest. Successful university
commercialization departments have also begun recruiting “CEOs in
Residence” to head up commercialization of university intellectual
property. MATRIC‘s experience with its spin-offs validates the premise
that a strong leadership team is critical to early and expanding
an existing grant with the
Benedum Foundation, MATRIC has established a CEO-in-Residence
Program whereby MATRIC recruits a seasoned professional to work with
entrepreneurs, researchers, and investors to create new start-up
companies based on research. CEOs-in-Residence must have a proven
track record in running successful start-ups, with expertise in
raising money at that early stage, and with a breadth of experience in
evaluating technology-based start-up opportunities. They assist in the
activities essential to the establishment and success of a new company
which may include:
- Evaluation of opportunity and assistance with business plans and
- Recruitment of a management team and board of directors
- Preparation of presentations for investors
- Structuring and negotiation of investment terms
- Locating professional expertise as needed based on prior
experience and reputation
This program was established with the goal of increasing the number
and success rate of start-ups founded on new
MATRIC technologies. The Program employs a proven venture capital model of
carefully analyzing start-up companies and then focusing resources on
value creation in those companies. MATRIC carefully assesses all
start-up ideas and selects those where there is a compelling market
strategy, with high potential for return on investment, that meet an
unmet societal need or improve upon an existing product or process
meeting such need.
MATRIC’s first CEO-in-Residence, Mike Wood, comes to us after a
very successful 25 years of business experience, holding senior
management and strategic planning positions with “Best in Class”
Fortune 150 companies. He is a native West Virginian having grown up
in the Kanawha valley and is a business economist by degree earning
his BS at West Virginia University and MS at North Carolina State
University. He is also a graduate of MIT’s Sloan School of Management
for Managing Technology Commercialization. Mike began his career with
the Ralston Purina Company as a corporate economist. He spent the
greatest part of his career developing and managing the bio research
and technology commercialization activities of Anheuser-Busch
Companies, Inc. (A-B). In this role, he managed their global research
and commercialization activities. During Mike’s tenure, A-B’s research
and raw material commercialization and manufacturing activities grew
from a $45 Million/yr domestic-only operation with 2 locations to a
$650 Million/yr global company with 35 locations and activity on 5
continents. He was elected an officer of Anheuser-Busch Companies and
member of the domestic and international Board of Directors. Mike
currently spends his time as a serial entrepreneur helping early stage
companies move from the idea stage to proven success.
“I am excited to be back in West Virginia working with the MATRIC
team. Our state has a rich history of breakthroughs in science and
technology and MATRIC has assembled a very talented staff to keep
these discoveries coming. I am eager to start building companies with
their help,” said Mike. Mike’s first assignment is to assist SGA
Chemicals, LLC to obtain venture capital funding.
Even with the addition of experienced start-up management, the
recruitment of external capital remains a critical factor in the
long-term success of MATRIC start-up companies. Accordingly, MATRIC
maintains active relationships with angel investors, venture capital
firms, and private equity investors. If you are either an accredited
investor or represent an investment group and have expertise in a
particular field, there may be investment opportunities with MATRIC
start-ups across a wide spectrum of industries and technologies. For
more information about investment opportunities, contact Executive
Vice President and Director of Commercialization Greg Clutter
or at 800/611-2296 x842.
SGA Polymers Creates “Green” Acrylic Acid from
Polymers, LLC was formed as a spin-off from
August, 2010 with the specific mission of developing and
commercializing technology invented for conversion of lactic acid to
acrylic acid using renewable raw materials. Currently all acrylic acid
is produced from petroleum through propylene. In the world market,
only large petroleum-based acrylic acid plants (200MM pounds/yr) have
proven to be economical.
The SGA BioAcrylic Process converts lactic
acid (produced from carbohydrates) into acrylic acid. In laboratory
scale operations, the process produces acrylic acid in high yields.
Patents have been filed and initial process design and economic
assessments have been completed. The SGA model has been validated as
economically very competitive with the petroleum-based (propylene)
route to acrylic acid. The process produces lower levels of byproducts
than the petrochemical models and an SGA production unit will require
50% less capital investment than a propylene unit.
The SGA cost advantage is maintained over a wide range of plant
sizes from small to large. Developing markets cannot initially sustain
large scale plants, thus making it difficult or impossible to build
acrylic capacity in locations such as Brazil and India. The SGA
technology will have the greatest advantage in specific situations.
- Regions where acrylic acid is currently being imported.
- Locations where a smaller scale production facility is
- Situations where local low cost renewable resources positively
The combination of these issues and trends creates a unique
opportunity – especially in Brazil, India, Australia and China, where
acrylic capacity is needed.
Because the SGA Bioacrylic Process uses only renewable raw
materials, any resultant products produced can be marketed as “green”.
With expanding consumer demand for “green” products and with the
demand for acrylic acid increasing worldwide, SGA Polymers is poised
to have a global economic impact.
For more information about SGA and possible investment
opportunities, contact T. Mike Wood
or at 800/611-2296 x 823.
Expanded Pilot and Demonstration Plant
Facilities Available to MATRIC Customers
The transfer of the former Dow/Union Carbide Technology Center to the
Higher Education Policy
Commission of the State of West Virginia has resulted in many
welcome and significant changes in the management of the renamed West
Research and Technology Park property including greatly increasing
MATRIC’s access to pilot and demonstration facilities.
is a relative term in that plants are typically smaller than
production scale plants, but are built in a range of sizes from
laboratory scale using generic lab equipment to those constructed of
fabricated metal on dedicated concrete slabs that may cost millions of
Since the operation of pilot or demonstration plants represents a
vitally important step on the road to commercialization, expanded
access to these facilities greatly enables MATRIC to assist its
customers in moving the most promising results from laboratory or
bench-scale work to be tested and optimized in a much larger
integrated process, which closely simulates the conditions that would
be experienced in a full commercial plant.
MATRIC understands the technologies behind the processes. So, in
addition to speeding scale-up, we also can validate the economics and
commercialization potential of emerging technologies. Conducting pilot
scale demonstrations can provide a high degree of confidence in the
ultimate performance of newly developed processes, and greatly reduces
the technical and commercial risk of proceeding to full commercial
scale. Pilot plants reduce the risk associated with construction of
large process plants in three ways:
- They are substantially less expensive to build than full-scale
plants. The business does not put as much capital at risk on a
project that may be inefficient or unfeasible. Further, design
changes can be made more cheaply at the pilot scale and kinks in the
process can be worked out before the large plant is constructed.
- They provide valuable data for design of the full-scale plant.
Scientific data about reactions, material properties, corrosiveness,
for instance, may be available, but it is difficult to predict the
behavior of a process of any complexity. Designers use data from the
pilot plant to refine their design of the production scale facility.
- They provide ongoing support in order to test ideas for new
products, new feedstocks, or different operating conditions.
Alternatively, they may be operated as production facilities,
augmenting production from the main plant.
One of the essential elements of a good pilot plant trial is
flexibility. The ability to modify column internals and/or auxiliary
equipment is often necessary to quickly arrive at an optimum solution.
MATRIC’s engineers have the experience and expertise to solve the most
difficult production problems. Experienced operators will perform
tests over a range of “real world” operating conditions to ensure that
the unit is operating as expected, while optimizing the process.
MATRIC’s service offerings are unique in that they encompass the
breadth of commercialization including laboratory research and
development, world-class technology assessment, pilot plant design,
operation and analysis, process design, safety assessments,
preliminary and full-scale engineering design and cost estimation,
materials procurement and construction management. Combining these
activities seamlessly into one continuous process reduces costs,
eliminates “transfer of knowledge” errors and accelerates project
For more information about research, assessment or pilot plant
projects, contact contact Parvez Wadia by
or at 800/611-2296 x 883.
MATRIC Customer Wins Presidential Green
MN 20 June – BioAmber, Inc. has been awarded a 2011 Presidential Green
Chemistry Challenge Award, presented by the Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) and the American Chemical Society (ACS). The Award
promotes technology that provides substantial environmental benefits
using green chemistry. BioAmber’s platform was recognized as the
leading technology in the field of succinic acid.
BioAmber is the first company
to successfully commercialize a biobased chemical that directly
substitutes its petro-chemical equivalent.
BioAmber’s succinic acid
platform delivers environmentally sound, cost-effective performance
materials that can replace petrochemicals in a wide range of
applications, including adipic-based polyurethanes, phthalate-based
plasticizers and acetate-based deicing solutions. BioAmber’s
technology produces succinic acid that competes on cost with fossil
fuel derived succinic acid when oil prices are well below $40 per
barrel. The technology also sequesters carbon dioxide rather than
Today’s Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award recognizes
BioAmber’s achievements in establishing the first large-scale
production facility for biobased succinic acid and creating a
portfolio of renewable chemicals and polymers that are made from
succinic acid. The portfolio includes modified polybutylene succinate
(mPBS), a novel, high temperature biopolymer that is also
biodegradable. BioAmber has established partnerships across its value
chain that helped accelerate the scale up and commercialization of its
succinic acid technology. These partnerships include Mitsui & Co. and
Mitsubishi Chemicals in Asia, Cargill, DuPont and
MATRIC in North America,
and ARD and Siclae in Europe. BioAmber has a plant producing succinic
acid in Europe and will start construction of second plant in North
America this year.
“BioAmber has successfully combined biotechnology and chemistry to
develop a sustainable, cost-competitive process for making succinic
acid and derivatives that include butanediol. We are pioneers in
biobased chemicals and materials and we are honored that the
recognized our accomplishments and leadership in the field of succinic.
Our success story is a great example of open innovation and we accept
this award on behalf of all our development partners”, said Jim
Millis, BioAmber’s Chief Technology Officer.
BioAmber, a renewable chemistry company, is the market leader in
the development and commercialization of biobased succinic acid and
operates the world’s only dedicated biobased succinic acid plant. The
company has offices and research labs in Minneapolis, MN, an office in
Montreal, a sales office in Shanghai, China and a production plant in
For more information about MATRIC’s “green” chemical initiatives,
contact Duane Dombek by by
or at 800/611-2296 x887.