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Avista Funds Targeted Growth Spinout Matrix Genetics
August 29, 2012
eattle, WA-based Matrix Genetics, a biotechnology company focused on producing renewable fuels and specialty chemicals derived from cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) has announced that Avista Development, Inc., of Spokane, WA, has invested in the company.
Avista Development is the venture arm of Avista Corp., an energy company involved in the production, transmission and distribution of energy, as well as other energy-related businesses. The investment provides Matrix with working capital to complete its spinout from Seattle-based Targeted Growth, an agricultural biotechnology company where the foundation of Matrix’s technology was developed.
“Avista’s investment is the springboard for Matrix to become an independent company with the resources to further develop our technologies that are creating a pathway to low-carbon, sustainable and renewable fuels and chemicals,” said Margaret McCormick, CEO of Matrix Genetics. “Their support will enable us to add staff, expand our labs, and continue the great tradition of bioscience companies in the state of Washington.”
Matrix is developing technologies to leverage the potential of cyanobacteria as a feedstock for the production of a rich diversity of valuable carbon-based chemicals.
Cyanobacteria are relatively simple, single cell organisms; their genome (the cell’s DNA) has already been mapped for several cyanobacteria species, and there is a robust set of “tools” available to modify them. Matrix has used these tools to create new and proprietary strains of cyanobacteria that can produce oil in significant quantities and in a range of specifications. Second and third generation organisms are being developed that also contain new traits that enhance their production characteristics and make them suitable for a wide range of end products, including fuels and chemicals.
In completing its spinout, the company is now focused on further developing its technology toward these goals: produce lipids for fuels and other products; develop production strains that are suitable for different growing environments, resistant to predators and harmless to the environment around them; create strains that continually produce and secrete oils, removing the need for costly harvesting; and increase the cultivation capacity to provide samples for testing with commercialization partners and prospects.