Amyris (company)

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Amyris, Inc.
Industry Renewable Fuels, Anti-Malaria, Renewable Chemicals, Renewable Products
Founded 2003
Headquarters Emeryville, California, USA
Key people
John Melo: CEO
Revenue $77.2 million [2016]
Number of employees
300 - 350

Amyris is an integrated renewable products company providing sustainable alternatives to a broad range of petroleum-sourced products. Amyris uses its industrial synthetic biology platform to convert plant sugars into a variety of hydrocarbon molecules, flexible building blocks which can be used in a wide range of products. Amyris is commercializing these products both as renewable ingredients in cosmetics, flavors, fragrances, polymers, lubricants and consumer products, and also as renewable diesel and jet fuels.

Founded in 2003 and headquartered in Emeryville, Ca, Amyris has raised over $120 million in equity funding to-date, including investments from Total S.A., Khosla Ventures, Votorantim Novos Negócios, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, TPG Biotech, and DAG Ventures.

Amyris Brasil S.A., a subsidiary of Amyris, oversees the establishment and expansion of Amyris’s production in Brazil.


Amyris is developing cost-effective and sustainably-produced natural oils and aroma chemicals used in the Flavors and Fragrances (F&F) market for the majority of the largest fragrance houses in the world.

Many of the natural ingredients used in F&F products are expensive because there is limited supply and the synthetic alternatives require complex chemical conversions.

Utilizing Amyris’s biotechnology platform and industrial fermentation processes, the company convert plant sugars into cost-effective, sustainable F&F ingredients at scale in serving the current and future needs of these partners and their global customers. With this technology, Amyris decouple production process from the price and supply volatility of natural oils and petroleum, allowing Amyris to produce ingredients reliably and at scale.


Amyris’s success in commercially scaling and producing fragrance molecules within the Flavors and Fragrances market has created an emerging opportunity into the area of flavors.

An evolving consumer diet and expanding need for enticing flavors within the highly competitive food and beverage sector is driving the quest for novel ingredients that cost-effectively meet product suppliers’ needs as well as those of consumers with increasingly discriminating tastes.

Amyris announced its first foray into this sector in July 2015 via a multi-year, multi-million-dollar agreement with a global food ingredients supplier.


Amyris is revolutionizing the cosmetics industry by providing sustainable, plant sugar-derived ingredients with superior performance.

Amyris’s cosmetic products are plant-derived, renewably-sourced and ECOCERT-approved. To make these innovative products Amyris convert renewable sugarcane into high quality cosmetic ingredients, ensuring supply, price and composition for Amyris’s customers around the world.

These customers comprising hundreds of the world's leading brands use Amyris’s high-end sugar cane-derived squalane emollient in numerous high-performance cosmetic and personal care brands.


In April 2016, Amyris announced that it had executed a Biofene® supply agreement with a global nutraceuticals company. Under the five-year $100 million supply agreement, the customer intends to convert Amyris’s Biofene into a nutraceutical product. This new, highly disruptive partner application for the flexible Biofene ingredient ─ which supports multiple broad-based market applications ─ is an example of growing demand for Biofene and Biofene-derivative applications for large markets, including nutraceuticals.


Amyris’s leading synthetic biotechnology platform was founded on solving a pharmaceutical challenge ─ developing a price stable and secure supply source for malaria treatment, artemisinin (historically derived from a plant).

Notably, nearly half of all drugs approved since 1994 are based on compounds present in natural products. Since then, Amyris have continued to build one of the most sophisticated and powerful biotechnology toolboxes for drug development and manufacture.

Within the biopharmaceutical sector, screening novel targets for small molecule hits faces significant challenges such as the inability to find suitable synthetic compounds and the difficulty in scaling up production of natural product hits. Amyris’s ability to generate new diversity derived from natural molecule structures (via the µPharm platform) and Amyris’s technology for rapid scale up of natural products allows us to address these problems. Outside of small molecules, Amyris’s technology also allows for rapid development of protein production in multiple potential organism hosts.

Through these capabilities Amyris can deliver to the pharmaceutical industry an integrated discovery and production process for therapeutic compounds for which a natural source is scarce or unavailable, or for which chemical synthesis is not cost-effective. The results are more stable, consistent supply at a lower cost than other viable production methods.

Amyris’s emerging role in these areas is garnering the interest of leading pharmaceutical companies.

In June 2016, Amyris announced the first collaboration in this area ─ an agreement with a commercial license option with Janssen Biotech, part of Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies, which was facilitated by Johnson & Johnson Innovation.

This was followed soon after in August 2016 by a partnership with Biogen.

Renewable fuels[edit]

Amyris's technology platform, branded "No Compromise," is focused on providing high performance petroleum-alternatives, using sustainable feedstock such as sugarcane.

Amyris has partnered with Total S.A. to develop renewable diesel and jet fuels designed to be optimal for transportation and better for the environment.

Building on the Biofene® hydrocarbon building block, the renewable fuels Amyris developed with Total, one of the leading energy companies in the world, deliver energy density, engine performance, and storage properties comparable to the best petroleum fuels.

Amyris's renewable diesel has been used commercially in the metropolitan bus system in Brazil and the renewable jet fuel has been used in numerous commercial flights with major airlines in partnership with Total S.A. around the world.

This successful colloboration continues to support the future widespread adoption of renewable fuels.


Amyris's line of renewable lubricants will redefine performance for the lubricants industry by offering sustainably-sourced solutions to the most advanced lubrication challenges without compromise in performance or quality.

Amyris joined forces with Brazil’s Cosan to produce renewable base oils and lubricants from Biofene®, Amyris’s brand of farnesene, a renewable hydrocarbon building block molecule through a joint venture, named Novvi. And, in June 2016, American Refining Group committed to a 33.3% equity stake in Novvi, enabling market access and accelerating revenue growth of Novvi’s high performance, sustainably sourced, renewable lubricant products.

Novvi will leverage Amyris’s leading synthetic biology platform to produce targeted hydrocarbon molecules from plant sugar as well as Cosan’s feedstock capabilities and supply and distribution infrastructure to pursue the large global market for lubricants.

These branded renewable NovaSpec base oils and lubricants improve upon key environmental metrics including biodegradability, toxicity and renewability when compared with petroleum-sourced base oils. All will deliver the high-performance characteristics of today’s leading oils across multiple applications from automotive to process and industrial oils and ready to face the toughest challenges.


Amyris has developed a best-in-class renewable solvent produced from plant sugars called Myralene™.

Amyris’s Myralene™ 10 solvent offers high performance for a range of industrial applications ranging from cleaning and degreasing, metal working, oil and gas applications, as well as coalescent co-solvents for the paint and coatings industries.

In 2015, Amyris announced plans to launch its first industrial cleaning products containing its Myralene™ renewable solvents through U.S. AutoForce and U.S. Lubricants, divisions of U.S. Venture, Inc.


Amyris’s partnership with Kuraray is developing farnesene to replace petroleum-derived feedstock in the production of specified classes of high-performing polymers for a number of applications including liquid rubber, elastomers, adhesives, and sealants.

In the area of liquid rubber, commercial tires marketed by Sumitomo Rubber Industries, Ltd. under their Dunlop brand utilizing the renewable liquid-farnesene rubber (LFR) developed with Kuraray launched in early 2017.


Artemisinin is a compound naturally found in the Chinese Sweet Wormwood plant effective in the treatment of malaria. Its production is hampered by difficult climate and agricultural conditions.

Amyris’s first major milestone came in 2005 when, through a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Amyris scientists developed technology capable of creating microbial strains to produce artemisinic acid — a precursor of artemisinin, an effective anti-malarial drug.

Artemisinin-based Combination Therapies (ACTs), are recommended by the World Health Organization (“WHO”) as the primary first-line treatment for malaria and have saved thousands of lives, especially among children.

Prior to Amyris's revolutionary breakthrough, the primary natural source for artemisinin was the Chinese Sweet Wormwood plant, which is difficult, expensive and time-consuming to cultivate and extract artemisinin from thereby preventing millions of people in the developing world from receiving critical ACTs. Through the partnership, Amyris made available artemisinic acid-producing yeast strains to Sanofi on a royalty-free basis via OneWorld Health and approximately 120 million treatments were cost effectively produced by October 2014.

Amyris continues to work to ensure access to affordable malaria treatments to save lives. In April 2016, the company announced that it was once again partnering with the Foundation via an investment from it to fund efforts focused on continued production of high quality and secure supplies of artemisinic acid and amorphadiene to be converted to artemisinin for use in ACTs.

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