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Bio-based chemicals company collects $100 million for refineries

A company which processes biomass into useful chemicals scooped up around $100 million in combined public and private financing which will be used in building its cellulosic refineries for converting biomass to sugars and lignin in Mississippi.

Virdia, another California-based company, closed its latest round of financing taking over $20 million from its partners Khosla Ventures, Burril & Company and Tamar Ventures.

The company also closed a $10 million venture debt deal with Triple Point Capital and signed a memorandum of understanding with the Mississippi Development Authority which gives Virdia an incentive package with $75 million in low-interest loans.

Virdia is building manufacturing plants in Mississippi, a state which the company identified as a biomass-rich one.

Aside from the incentive package from the state, Virdia stands to get up to $155 million in various tax incentives over a 10-year period for its operations in Mississippi.

"We are pleased Virdia is locating manufacturing operations in Mississippi and will be using our state's ample biomass resources to create its renewable products," said Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant.

"This innovative company has committed to creating hundreds of high-paying jobs for Mississippians and will have a positive impact on communities around the state."

Virdia, formerly HCL CleanTech, developed a process for converting cellulosic biomass to high-quality fermentable sugars and lignin.

Applications for the products created by Virdia's process include renewable fuels and fuel intermediates such as diesel, jet fuel, ethanol and butanol; renewable chemicals and materials such as biosurfactants, lubricants, plastics and synthetic rubber; and nutritional additives such as baker's yeast and amino acids.

The company recently announced its new chief executive Philippe Lavielle, a veteran of the industrial biotech sector who comes from Genencor, an industrial enzymes company recently acquired by DuPont.

Mr. Lavielle replaces Virdia co-founder Eran Baniel, who now serves as vice president of business development.

"Virdia's technology and manufacturing platform holds the potential to enable the entire value chain of advanced biochemicals and biofuels," said Vinod Khosla, founding partner of Khosla Ventures.

"It will create a new wealth of thousands of local, sustainable manufacturing jobs anchored on this country's unparalleled biomass resources." – K.R. Jalbuena

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