Most people think of e-coli as a yucky bacteria that can make you sick, but that's not how OPX sees it. The Boulder-based biotech blends genetically engineered e-coli with corn or sugarcane to produce a range of plant-based chemicals that replace more expensive petroleum-based compounds. The company's first commercial product is bioacrylic, a sub for petroleum-based acrylic acid, a common ingredient in paints, adhesives, and diapers. OPX recently raised $36.5 million in venture capital and recently announced a partnership with Dow Chemical. It plans to open its first industrial-scale plant in 2014. According to CEO Chas Eggert, the global market for acrylic acid is about $8 billion, growing at an annual rate of 3% to 4%. "We want to be the world leader in renewable chemicals, with a broad portfolio," he says. Even so, the company operates in a crowded field with tough competition from Genomatica and BioAmber.
These budding entrepreneurs didn't have to wait for an MBA to get down to business.
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