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Sumitomo Chemical Invests in Conagen, U.S. Bio-Venture

Apr. 2, 2020

Sumitomo Chemical has invested US $30 million in Conagen, a U.S. biotechnology company. Through this investment, Sumitomo Chemical aims to further promote its strategic business alliance with Conagen and develop innovative high functional products and processes by way of synthetic biology.

Conagen is a discovery-based biotechnology company whose strengths lie in the use of synthetic biology to enable integrated technological capability from the design and culture of the microorganisms to industrialization of fermentation processes. The company undertakes research and development in a wide range of fields, including functional food materials, healthcare, and flavors and fragrances, and has mass production sites in China and Europe. It is expanding its business through partnerships with many companies. Sumitomo Chemical has conducted joint research with Conagen since 2018 on the biosynthesis of existing chemicals. Based on the results of the research, last year Sumitomo Chemical made an investment in SweeGen, which is part of a business group centered on Conagen. In these ways, Sumitomo Chemical has been strengthening its collaborative relationship with Conagen.

In recent years, we have witnessed more and more commercialization of synthetic biology as a result of rapid advances in technology through the fusion of biotechnology and digital technology. With this progress, Sumitomo Chemical believes that the creation of new businesses can be accelerated by combining synthetic biology with chemical technology, as this helps develop highly-efficient, clean, and energy-saving processes, as well as highly functional products that are difficult to manufacture through chemical synthesis alone. Meanwhile, Conagen also desires strategic partnerships with chemical companies having common platform technologies, such as downstream processes and safety assessment technologies, as well as application know-how, since such partnerships enable the commercialization of products in new fields beyond functional food ingredients and flavors and fragrances. This mutual interest has led to the investment by Sumitomo Chemical. Both companies will jointly explore research projects, strengthen their technological base by mutually dispatching researchers, and develop innovative technologies and processes.

In its current Corporate Business Plan, Sumitomo Chemical has identified accelerating the development of next-generation businesses as one of its basic policies, and is building its own innovation ecosystem geared toward new businesses in all of its four priority areas: reduction of environmental impact, healthcare, food, and ICT. Sumitomo Chemical will continue its efforts to acquire unique technologies that it does not have through open innovation with start-ups and academia. The company will then combine them with its proprietary technologies to cultivate new technologies and business domains in order to bring about a sustainable society.

About Conagen

Conagen is advancing the ways natural products are manufactured with molecule-per-molecule precision and customization. Conagen uncovers the metabolic pathways of nature, engineers unique microbes with synthetic biology, and develops high-quality products through specialized fermentation. Conagen delivers innovation to the food and beverage, flavor and fragrance, nutrition, renewable materials, and pharma markets.
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About SweeGen

SweeGen is dedicated to the development, production and distribution of non-caloric sweeteners, utilizing the technology of synthetic biology, for the food, flavor and beverage industries. SweeGen’s robust product pipeline, intellectual property portfolio, and dedicated manufacturing capacity and R&D provide the foundation for innovation and delivery of high-quality sweeteners.
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