In 2015, when Deepak Dugar entered Cyclotron Road as part of Cohort One, his aim was to commercialize advances he had made at the intersection of synthetic biology and catalysis—research he had bootstrapped, toiling nights and weekends in a rented Boston lab, while working as a consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Now, those nights and weekends are paying off. Dugar’s Berkeley-based startup, Visolis, is manufacturing bio-based feedstocks for a range of specialty products. It has developed new routes to producing key molecules that serve as chemical feedstocks for polymers, solvents and, resins. And most importantly, the startup is positioned to scale up its production, and its impact, significantly.
“We’ve already demonstrated that our bespoke microbe can use multiple feedstocks, such as sugars from corn or waste biomass including sugarcane bagasse,” explains Dugar, who while at MIT earned both a Ph.D. in chemical engineering and an M.B.A. “And the key to our success will be that we can make these key ingredients at a lower price, with reduced environmental impact, and more reliably, compared to conventional petrochemical pathways.”