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Craig Venter’s Synthetic Genomics, a startup that is looking to do no less than overthrow the petrol industry and create an artificial life form, is in the process of raising another round of funding in the “$100 million to $200 million range,” the company’s Chief Financial […]

Craig Venter’s Synthetic Genomics, a startup that is looking to do no less than overthrow the petrol industry and create an artificial life form, is in the process of raising another round of funding in the “$100 million to $200 million range,” the company’s Chief Financial Officer Chuck McBride tells us. Venter has said that the startup can deliver a biofuel that turns carbon dioxide into octane in as little as 18 months, and McBride tells us that the company is now raising money in anticipation of getting a biofuel product to market soon.

McBride, who joined the firm in January, told us at the Fortune Green conference, that the company is talking to a variety of venture capital firms and strategic investors, like agriculture companies and petrochemical companies, for possible investment. The company is looking to close the round in the next three months.


Synthetic Genomics is already backed by high-profile VC firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson, along with other private investors, as well as strategic investor BP.

At a roundtable at the Fortune conference, Venter said using carbon as a feedstock for biofuels isn’t what’s difficult; the hard part is moving a solution in the lab to a grand scale. Venter said the company envisions 1 million biofuel-converting micro-facilities throughout the country.

Using carbon as a feedstock for biofuels could also “drive the CO2 sequestration” industry, Venter said. Capturing and storing carbon from power plants is still in the very early stages, as the options for what to do with the captured carbon are less than ideal — basically, most players plan to store it underground. Turning carbon into vehicle fuel could offer one of the best solutions we’ve heard. It almost sounds too simple, but Venter assured us that the biology is there, if not at scale just yet.

For those not familiar with Craig Venter, he is one of the most well known scientists of our time and revolutionized genomics. He also recently wrote a book about decoding his own genome, and he isn’t shy about making audacious plans and predictions. So expect to see some big announcements from Synthetic Genomics over the next year, as the company raises funds, gets closer to a real product and takes a shot at “replacing the petrol industry.”

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By Katie Fehrenbacher

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  1. Very interesting approach of using waste CO2 into a useful fuel source.

  2. |.:: Craig Venter e Synthetic Genomics, il via alla IV generazione di biocarburanti. Entro 18 mesi la produzione di biocaruranti grazie a microbi artificiali, geneticamente modificati ::.| Craig Venter genetista, futuro genetica, futuro biocarburanti, IV Monday, April 28, 2008

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  3. Synthetic Biofuel Startup Gevo Raises $17M « Earth2Tech Tuesday, May 13, 2008

    [...] competes with other synthetic biology firms like Craig Venter’s Synthetic Genomics. Synthetic Genomics Chief Financial Officer Chuck McBridetold us back in April that the company was in the process of raising a round of funding in the “$100 million [...]

  4. I think they would be better off to staty away from miore VC money and go with strategic investors. They know the industry and they will have the patience to wait it out!

  5. How to Get Six Pack Fast Wednesday, April 15, 2009

    This is quite a hot info. I think I’ll share it on Facebook.

  6. Craig Venter Is Now God & How That Affects Climate Change Thursday, May 20, 2010

    [...] consuming CO2 and also at being used as a transportation fuel. Synthetic Genomics CFO Chuck McBride told me about two years ago that the startup could possibly be able to deliver a biofuel that turns carbon dioxide into octane [...]

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