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Virdia announces new CEO and funding

Virdia plants manufacture sugar from wood chipsMar. 7, 2012, Redwood City, CA - Virdia, formerly HCL CleanTech, a leading developer of cellulosic sugars from wood chips, has announced major company milestones, including a new brand and CEO, its latest funding round, and a $75 million deal with the Mississippi Development Authority to build plants in the state.


March 7, 2012
By Business Wire

Topics

Mar. 7, 2012, Redwood City, CA – Virdia,
formerly HCL CleanTech, a leading developer of cellulosic sugars from wood chips,
announced major company milestones, including a new brand and CEO, its
latest funding round, and a $75 million deal with the Mississippi
Development Authority to build manufacturing plants in the state.

Founded in 2007 as HCL CleanTech, Virdia has developed the CASE process,
which converts cellulosic biomass to high quality fermentable sugars and
lignin, and is based on a series of patented and patent-pending
technologies. Cellulosic sugars and lignin are important feedstock for
the renewable chemicals industry and the second generation biofuels
sector. The company plans to establish its cellulosic refineries close
to sustainable sources of biomass.

New Chief Executive Officer Philippe Lavielle is a veteran of the
industrial biotech sector. Lavielle replaces Co-founder Eran Baniel as
CEO, who now serves as vice president of business development. Before
joining Virdia, Lavielle was a member of the executive management at
Genencor, a $1 billion world leader in industrial enzymes recently
acquired by DuPont, where his responsibilities included global business
development in the fields of renewable energy and biochemicals.

 Virdia plants manufacture sugar from wood chips  
Virdia has developed the CASE process,
which converts cellulosic biomass to high quality fermentable sugars and
lignin.


 

"This is an exciting and pivotal time for Virdia, and I am pleased to
bring my experience to bear in leading the company through its next
stage of commercialization," said Lavielle. "The momentum we are
experiencing in funding and our plans to scale up manufacturing move us
that much closer to realizing our mission on a large scale. Virdia is
well positioned to be the frontrunner in the race to make cellulosic
sugars a reality — an indispensable step for the success of the
bioeconomy."

To fund its piloting activities and engineering plans, Virdia recently
closed its latest round of financing, raising over $20 million from
insiders, Khosla Ventures, Burrill & Company and Tamar Ventures. In
addition, the company closed $10 million in a venture debt deal with
Triple Point Capital.

"Virdia's process of converting biomass to fermentable sugars will be
very attractive economically once it is deployed at scale. Virdia's
sugars have been tested by various partners in tens of chemical and
biochemical applications, and the feedback is overwhelmingly positive,"
said Greg Young, managing director, Burrill & Company. "Cellulosic
sugars are really the gateway to advanced biofuels and biochemicals, and
Virdia is leading that charge."

"Virdia's technology and manufacturing platform holds the potential to
enable the entire value chain of advanced biochemicals and biofuels. It
will create a new wealth of thousands of local, sustainable
manufacturing jobs anchored on this country's unparalleled biomass
resources," said Vinod Khosla, founding partner of Khosla Ventures.

The company also announces that it recently signed a memorandum of
understanding with the Mississippi Development Authority to build
manufacturing facilities in the biomass-rich state. The agreement
includes an incentive package with $75 million in low-interest loans, as
well as up to $155 million in various tax incentives over a 10-year
period. Virdia's cellulosic sugar plants are expected to create hundreds
of new jobs over the same decade.

"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 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's products are cost competitive, and are setting new standards
for industrial use of cellulosic sugars and lignin. Applications range
from renewable fuels and fuel intermediates, including 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 for the
animal feed industry. Virdia's CASE process also produces high quality
lignin in dry or soluble forms, which has proven to be valuable
feedstock for plant-based plastics and other thermo-chemical
transformations.

"With global biofuel mandates alone calling for at least 72 billion
gallons by 2021, unlocking the potential of lignocellulosic biomass will
be vital to scaling the bio-based economy over the next decade," said
Mackinnon Lawrence, a senior analyst with Pike Research. "In the
near-term, commercial production of next generation bio-based products
across multiple industries — including energy, nutrition, biochemical,
and plastics — is contingent upon a leader emerging in the space. With
sustainability increasingly a concern, those companies with robust
solutions that can produce low-cost alternative carbohydrates derived
from non-food biomass are poised to capture significant market share."

About Virdia

Virdia is a leading developer of cellulosic sugars and lignin for use in
the renewable chemicals, bio-energy and nutrition industries. The
company's CASE proprietary process converts a wide range of cellulosic
feedstock, including wood, energy crops and agricultural residues into
highly refined sugars and lignin. This low-temperature process delivers
the highest yields of sugars from biomass, and has a very light
environmental footprint due to the near complete recycling of acids and
solvents used in manufacturing. The company is led by a seasoned
management team with decades of experience in corn processing, chemicals
and biochemicals industries. For more information, please visit
www.virdia.com.


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