(peHUB) March 20, 2012 – Keclon, an Argentina-based emerging innovator in generating proprietary enzymes that improve the quality, efficiency and cost of biodiesel fuel production, announced today the completion of a Seed round of financing. Major investors participating in the round include internationally respected scientific and technology entrepreneurs and venture investors: Dr. Pablo Valenzuela, Chilean biochemist, industrial biotechnology pioneer, former co-founder of Chiron Corporation and current President of Fundacion Ciencias para la Vida (FCV); Pymar Fund LP, managed in Argentina by Lisandro Bril, Founder and Managing Partner of Ax Ventures; and Eduardo Ergas, a businessman in the financial and real state industries investing in global companies at the forefront of cleantech and biotech innovation. Keclon was founded in December 2011 by biotechnology leaders Dr. Hugo Menzella an investigator at Rosario National University (UNR), Leandro Vetcher, founder and CEO of Green Pacific Biologicals, Dr. Salvador Peiru, a researcher at UNR, and Sebastian Bernales, investigator at FCV and Director of R&D at Medivation. Keclon is the first private biotechnology company in Argentina to receive financial support from the venture community. In addition, Keclon has established a research and development cooperation agreement with CONICET (National Scientific and Technical Research Council) and with the prestigious UNR.
“Keclon is a world-class biotechnology venture that is poised to capitalize on the rapid growth of the biofuel industry to bring significant cost and quality benefits to consumers,” said Pablo Valenzuela. “With expertise ranging from cutting-edge molecular biology to large-scale production, and management talent that draws from successful biotechnology entrepreneurs, Keclon has the potential to solve one of the world’s most pressing economic and social challenges by harnessing the power of innovative technology to deliver new solutions to biodiesel producers from most plant feedstocks.”
“Keclon is the first venture-backed biotechnology company in Argentina, and represents a new model for global entrepreneurship by synergistically combining the management talent, scientific and business expertise and technological capabilities of its team of founders, executives and investors regardless of whether they reside in South America or Silicon Valley,” said Lisandro Bril. “With its promise to dramatically reduce the cost and improve the quality of plant-based biodiesel production, Keclon has the potential to have a significant positive impact on national, regional and world economies, while carrying on the rich tradition of Argentina’s scientific excellence in biotechnology. We believe that Keclon represents a promising investment opportunity whose success will be measured in societal enhancements as well as financial returns.”
Argentina is one of the world’s largest exporters of plant-based biodiesel. Reflecting the significant investment Argentina is making in accelerating its global leadership in the industrialization and commercialization of biofuels, Keclon is emblematic of Argentina’s commitment to creating a robust, competitive and commercially attractive market for biofuel producers, and promoting the growth and success of local, seed-stage technology entrepreneurs.
Biodiesel production has significantly increased in recent years driven by the demand for clean energy and higher price of oil, and new government regulations. The biodiesel market reached revenues of $18.4 billion in 2010 and is expected to reach $71.0 billion worldwide by 2020, showing double-digit annual growth rates, while the US government has set mandates for blending 46 billion gallons of renewable fuels by 2022. Argentina, Keclon’s initial market, already has a mandate to for a B7 blend (7% biodiesel in gasoline). The performance of biodiesel, however, is inferior to petroleum diesel due to the presence of impurities, including insoluble materials such as steryl glucosides and saturated monoacylglycerols. Today, there are no effective methods of eliminating impurities rapidly and without adding significant new costs so there is an urgent need for solutions that reduce production costs and for biodiesel products that meet the required purity specifications by new regulations in Europe and the US. Satisfying this demand will require breakthrough technologies, such as those being developed by Keclon.
“Keclon has built a unique, proprietary platform capable of rapidly generating a pipeline of novel synthetic enzymes with greatly enhanced characteristics, including the ability to work effectively at extreme conditions,” said Hugo Menzella, Keclon’s founder. “Our goal is to solve the challenges of producing biodiesel fuel which is higher quality, more cost-effective, and competitive in the global market and will look forward to scaling up our operations in the coming months. We are deeply appreciative of the support of our investors and look forward to our partnership with CONICET and UNR.”
Keclon is a newly founded Argentine biotechnology company developing novel enzymes for biodiesel production. Our proprietary platform uses genetic engineering, synthetic biology and directed evolution to rapidly generate new and improved enzymes that can significantly reduce current production costs and provide premium high-quality biodiesel by eliminating major impurities in an environmental-friendly and commercially competitive way. Keclon is initially focusing on developing designer enzymes that eliminate key impurities in plant-based biodiesel, such as steryl glucosides and saturated monoacylglycerols which result in the formation of insoluble materials that compromise quality and performance of the end product. Keclon is led by an accomplished team of internationally recognized biotechnology executives whose experience spans all aspects of research, development, business development and commercialization, and its venture investors include world-renowned science and technology entrepreneurs and leaders. Keclon is headquartered in Rosario, Argentina, the epicenter of a region where 10% of the world’s soybean biodiesel supply is produced. For more information about Keclon, please visit the company’s website: www.keclon.com .
About Ax Ventures and Pymar Fund
Ax Ventures SRL is the Local Manager of Pymar Fund LP, in Argentina. Lisandro Bril is the Founder and Managing Partner of Ax Ventures, in partnership with Eduardo Orteu and Mario Vazquez. PYMAR is a venture capital fund, sponsored by Fundacion Empresa y Crecimiento (FEC), and the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) of the InterAmerican Development Bank (IDB). Other Limited Partners are the Spanish Development Corporation (COFIDES), Latin American Development Bank (CAF) and Argentine Private Investors. The aim of PYMAR is to invest in Argentine innovative and technology companies that target regional and global markets. PYMAR’s General Partner is Gestora de Empresa y Crecimiento SL (GEC).