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BioAmber Inc.

BioAmber Inc.
Traded as NYSEBIOA, EuronextBIOA
Industry Renewable Chemicals
Founded 2008
Headquarters Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Area served
Key people
Jean-François Huc
(Chief Executive Officer)
François Laurin
(Chief Financial Officer)
Mike Hartmann
(Executive Vice President)
James Millis
(Chief Technology Officer)
Fabrice Orecchioni
(Chief Operations Officer)
Babette Pettersen
(Chief Commercial Officer)
Products Bio-based Succinic Acid, 1,4-Butanediol, Disodium Succinate

BioAmber Inc. is a sustainable chemicals company. Its proprietary technology platform combines industrial biotechnology and chemical catalysis to convert renewable feedstock into chemicals for use in a wide variety of everyday products including plastics, resins, food additives and personal care products.[1] BioAmber has been listed on the New York Stock Exchange since May 2013, under the symbol BIOA.[2] The company is also listed on the NYSE Euronext Paris exchange, under the same symbol.[3] BioAmber is a Delaware corporation with a head office in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, a research facility in Plymouth (Minneapolis), Minnesota, and a commercial plant under construction in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada.[4] BioAmber’s investors include Sofinnova Partners (France), Naxos Capital Partners (Luxemburg), Mitsui & Co. (Japan), LANXESS (Germany) and the Cliffton Group (Canada).[5]


BioAmber was established in 2008 as a result of a spin-off from New York-based Diversified Natural Products (DNP). The company was originally named DNP Green Technology. Prior to the spin-off, DNP had established a joint venture with France based Agro-Industrie Recherches et Développements (ARD). The goal of the joint venture was to develop and commercialize bio-based succinic acid, and the JV was named BioAmber. In 2010, DNP Green Technology acquired 100 percent of the joint venture from ARD and changed its corporate name to BioAmber.[6]

After the Company was spun off from DNP, it was privately financed in 2009 by a group of institutional investors that included Sofinnova Partners, Mitsui & Co., Samsung Ventures and the Cliffton Group.[7] In 2011 and 2012, Naxos Capital Partners and Lanxess became investors in the Company, which raised a total of $87 million over three rounds of financing between 2009[8] and 2012.[9] In May 2013, BioAmber completed its initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol BIOA, raising $80 million in gross proceeds and issuing warrants for an additional $44 million in common stock.[10]


BioAmber produces bio-based succinic acid by fermenting sugars. The company uses proprietary yeast that it has exclusively licensed from Cargill. Cargill originally developed the yeast for the production of lactic acid and has been using the yeast at commercial scale for over four years.[11] The yeast has the ability to ferment at a low pH and tolerate high concentrations of succinic acid, giving it a distinct advantage over other organisms producing succinic acid via fermentation.[12] BioAmber collaborated with Cargill in the development and scale up of the succinic acid yeast and achieved the final milestone in September 2013. BioAmber has designed its commercial plant in Sarnia to operate with the yeast technology.[13]

BioAmber has licensed from DuPont a catalyst technology that can converts bio-based succinic acid into bio-based 1,4-Butanediol. The technology involves the liquid phase hydrogenation of succinic acid into 1,4-Butanediol (BDO), Tetrahydrofuran (THF) and Gamma-Butyrolactone (GBL).[14] The products are then separated and purified through distillation. DuPont originally commercialized the technology in Spain in a plant that converted maleic acid into THF.[15] BioAmber has partnered exclusively with Evonik to further develop and optimize the catalyst compositions licensed from DuPont, so that they efficiently convert succinic acid instead of maleic acid.[16] Evonik will be the exclusive supplier of commercial grade catalyst to BioAmber and DuPont will receive a royalty on sales.

BioAmber has also exclusively licensed the Cargill yeast for the production of bio-based adipic acid.[17] The company has exclusively licensed a metabolic pathway from Celexion, a Boston-based biotech company. The pathway enables the production of bio-based adipic acid, hexamethylenediamine (HMD), caprolactam, hexanediol and caprolactone, using fermentable sugars.[18] In the summer of 2013 BioAmber achieved a development milestone related to the production of adipic acid in the yeast licensed from Cargill.[19]


The use of fermentation to produce building block chemicals offers the prospect of an improved carbon footprint and lower energy intensity than the petrochemical route to the same chemicals. BioAmber claims that an independent life cycle analysis of its facility under construction in Sarnia concluded that it will emit only 0.04 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent gases (greenhouse gases) per kilogram of bio-succinic acid produced. According to the Company, 7.1 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent gases are emitted per kilogram of succinic acid produced using the petrochemical route, representing a 99.4% reduction. The life cycle analysis also indicates that the facility in Sarnia will consume 56% less energy than the current petrochemical process. The Company claims that the independent life cycle analysis shows that field-to-gate energy use will be 42.7 mega joules per kilogram of bio-succinic acid produced, as compared to the current petrochemical process, which uses 97.7 mega joules per kilogram of succinic acid produced.[20]


BioAmber has been producing bio-based succinic acid since January 2010 at a large demonstration plant owned and operated by the Company’s former joint venture partner, ARD.[21] BioAmber has 60% access to the facility through to the end of 2014.[22] The demonstration plant operates at the 350,000 liter fermenter scale, making it the largest scale fermentation among start-up companies in the field of bio-based chemicals.[23] BioAmber claim to have gained extensive experience from operating this plant for several years and has incorporated the learning and improvements into the design its commercial plant under construction in Sarnia, Canada.[24]

BioAmber has established a joint venture with Mitsui & Co. to build and operate a 30,000 metric ton capacity bio-succinic acid plant in Sarnia Ontario.[25] The facility began construction in August 2013 and is expected to be mechanically complete in the fourth quarter of 2014. When the plant is commissioned, it will be the world’s largest bio-based succinic acid plant.[26]


Succinic acid is a platform chemical that can be used in a broad range of markets, from high value niche applications such as personal care products and food additives, to large volume applications such as plasticizers, polyurethanes, resins and coatings.[27] In 2004, the United States Department of Energy (USDOE) published a report on “Top Value-Added Chemicals from Biomass,” identifying the top opportunities for the production of chemicals from biomass. The study prioritized twelve chemicals, from a group of over 300 possible building blocks that could be most effectively manufactured from sugars. Bio-succinic acid was recognized as one of the renewable building block chemicals with the greatest technical feasibility and commercial potential.[28]

Historically, the high cost of producing succinic acid from petroleum feedstock limited its use to a narrow range of applications such as pharmaceuticals and food ingredients. As a result, based on 2011 estimates, the market for petroleum-based succinic acid was approximately 51,000 metric tons per year, representing a market size of approximately $350 million.[29] However, market research firms and consultants predict that manufacturing bio-succinic acid will make succinic acid economically feasible for use in greater volumes across a spectrum of new applications. A study published in September 2013 by Transparency Market Research projects that the global market for succinic acid will grow at a CAGR of 19.4% between 2012 and 2018.[30] A study published in August 2012 by Roland Berger Strategy Consultants, projects that the succinic acid market will grow at a compounded annual growth rate of between 25% and 30% through 2020, when the global market size is expected to be between 500,000 and 700,000 metric tons.[31]

The major uses of 1,4 BDO are in the production of THF and polybutylene terephthalate, or PBT.[32] THF is used to produce spandex fibers and other performance polymers, resins, solvents and printing inks for plastics. PBT is an engineering-grade thermoplastic that combines excellent mechanical and electrical properties with robust chemical resistance. The automotive and electronics industries heavily rely on PBT to produce connectors, insulators, wheel covers, gearshift knobs and reinforcing beams. The market for 1,4 BDO exceeded $4.0 billion in 2012.[citation needed]


  • 2009 Frost & Sullivan Biorenewable Chemicals Technology Award[33]
  • 2011 U.S. EPA Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award[34]
  • 2011 ICIS Best Business Innovation Award[35]
  • 2012 Biotech Canada Gold Leaf Award - Early Stage Company of the Year: Industrial & Agricultural[36]


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  15. ^ "DuPont brings innovative THF technology onstream". ICIS. September 2, 1996. Retrieved 2013-11-12. 
  16. ^ "Evonik and BioAmber Partner on Catalysts for Sustainable Chemicals Made from Bio-Based Succinic Acid". Evonik. July 24, 2012. Retrieved 2013-11-12. 
  17. ^ "BioAmber S-1/A". Securities and Exchange Commission. May 9, 2013. Retrieved 2013-11-11. 
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  34. ^ "2011 Small Business Award: BioAmber Inc. - Integrated Production and Downstream Applications of Biobased Succinic Acid". United States Environmental Protection Agency. June 20, 2011. Retrieved 2013-11-12. 
  35. ^ "BioAmber Wins ICIS Innovation Award for Best Business Innovation". PR Newswire. October 17, 2011. Retrieved 2013-11-12. 
  36. ^ "Early Stage Company of the Year - Ind.&Ag". BIOTECanada. May 16, 2012. Retrieved 2013-11-12. 

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