‘Proven Products’

Codexis moves from R&D to product sales
By Kris Bevill | December 12, 2011

Technology and enzyme developer Codexis Inc. recently announced a rebranding of sorts as it moves out of the research and development (R&D) phase and into product sales. CEO Alan Shaw said during the company’s third-quarter earnings call in November that, while more than half of the company’s revenue is currently in the form of R&D funding, future revenues are expected to come from three sources—the sale of enzymes, the sale of products made using Codexis enzymes and microbes, and royalties from the use of Codexis technology.

“Codexis transformed pharmaceutical manufacturing by driving the adoption of our biocatalysts solutions, which prior to Codexis were a promise that hadn’t become reality,” he says. “We now have more than 50 pharmaceutical companies using our enzymes for everything from early-stage compound development to production of the some of the world’s best-selling drugs. Our goal is to repeat that revolution in biofuels and biobased chemicals.”

Codexis has developed a technology platform it calls CodeEvolver that combines DNA shuffling and proprietary bioinformatics to create new biocatalysts with characteristics that exceed the performance of those found in naturally occurring enzymes. The technology is expected to be put to use initially in Brazil by Raizen Energia S.A., Codexis’ largest shareholder, to improve sugarcane-based ethanol production. Raizen was formed earlier this year as a joint venture between Royal Dutch Shell plc and sugarcane and ethanol producer Cosan Ltd. The CodeEvolver platform is expected to be rolled out initially at one of Raizen’s 24 sugar mills. Shaw said work on the collaboration with Raizen is already under way. “Our collaboration with Raizen will focus on a range of targets including improving the performance of yeasts now used in ethanol production and may also include development of other products from sugar such as biobased chemicals,” he adds.   

Between the Raizen collaboration and the company’s partnership with Shell to produce next-generation biofuels from non-food biomass, biofuels will play an integral role in the company’s shift toward becoming a products company, according to Shaw. “Our goal is that our technology will become the industry standard for next-generation biofuels,” he says.—Kris Bevill