Bio-based chemicals and materials are catalyzing the biggest change that the global chemicals industry has seen in decades. Surprisingly for an industry so dependent on massive scale, small technology startups are leading the way. We evaluated the technical and business strengths and weaknesses of 106 new innovators, charting their evolution towards a successful exit or early extinction. They compete in seven technology areas, from renewable feedstocks like algae, GM crops, and waste gases, to downstream processing in pyrolysis, gasification, and synthetic biology. In addition to each player’s position, each field’s evolution feels external forces like value gaps in the marketplace, government policy, investor interest, and macroeconomics.
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