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Assessing Innovator Evolution in Renewable Materials and Chemicals

Bio-based chemicals and materials are catalyzing the biggest change that the global chemicals industry has seen in decades. Surprisingly for an industry so dependent on massive scale, small technology startups are leading the way. We evaluated the technical and business strengths and weaknesses of 106 new innovators, charting their evolution towards a successful exit or early extinction. They compete in seven technology areas, from renewable feedstocks like algae, GM crops, and waste gases, to downstream processing in pyrolysis, gasification, and synthetic biology. In addition to each player's position, each field's evolution feels external forces like value gaps in the marketplace, government policy, investor interest, and macroeconomics.

Table of Contents

  • Executive Summary
  • Landscape
    • Bio-based Chemical Companies' Performance Is Measurable
      • Company Position Depends on Performance in Three Dimensions
    • Interpreting Company Positions and Each Renewable Chemical Technology Space
      • Market Dynamics Have Additional Implications for Strategic Decisions
    • Landscape Conclusions
  • Analysis
    • Companies' Technologies Generate or Upgrade Potentially Fathomless Feedstocks
    • Algae Cultivators Endure, Despite Deep Problems in Microbiology and Macroeconomics
      • Key Companies
      • A Few Individual Players May Break Free, but Don't Expect Improvement from the Algae Field as a Whole
    • Both Mature Players and Recent Entrants Bristle with Activity in Biocomposites
      • Key Companies
      • Biocomposites' Biggest Fight Is Against Drop-in Substitutes
    • Mature Integrated Biocatalysis Firms Commercialize, Even as New Entrants Crowd In
      • Key Companies
      • Dynamics of the Field
    • Cellulosic Processing Technology Developers Tackle One of Nature's Toughest Polymers
      • Key Companies
      • Dynamics of the Field
    • Crop Modification Companies Thrive With Close Corporate Collaboration
      • Key Companies
      • Dynamics of the Field
    • Waste Gases to Chemicals is Cluttered with Idealistic but Ineffective Approaches
      • Key Companies
      • Dynamics of the Field
    • Thermochemical Technologies Promise the Bounty of Bioprocessing, Without Finicky Bugs
      • Key Companies
      • Dynamics of the Thermochemical field
    • Other Bio-Based Innovators Defy Easy Categorization, Yet Are Still Worth Watching
  • Outlook
  • About Lux Research
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