Novo Holdings is making a significant multimillion dollar investment to acquire a double-digit equity stake in US-based bioMASON, a start-up that uses bacteria to produce sustainable concrete masonry for the construction industry. This is Novo Holdings’ third bioindustrial investment in 2019.
Concrete may be ripe for disruption, and Novo Holdings is investing millions in this venture.
“Our investment in bioMASON reflects our belief that biology can create much more sustainable solutions in industry and construction. We have a proven technology that needs to be commercialized; we look forward to contributing. This is early in the value creation process for us, but we are investing now because we are very convinced of the potential,” says Anders Spohr, Senior Partner, Novo Holdings.
Billions of bacteria
bioMASON manufactures concrete masonry products (e.g. tiles, pavers) without using traditional cement. Instead, sand, bacteria and nutrient-rich water are mixed together, and when this mixture ferments, billions of bacteria create calcium carbonate crystals that bind the grains of sand together, similar to using cement. This method produces high-quality biocement® construction materials through a carbon dioxide neutral process.
The concrete stone industry has an annual revenue of about USD 300 billion, and even a niche market of a few percent could thus comprise an excellent business case for this new production method. bioMASON considers Novo Holdings an ideal investor, especially in relation to the commercialization process.
“bioMASON has developed a biological alternative to Portland cement-based concrete materials, employing microorganisms and natural processes that use carbon as a fundamental building block. With Novo Holdings as the ideal partner, bioMASON is poised to aggressively scale and commercialize biocement® construction materials. Together, we are expanding the use of biotechnology into new industrial sectors,” says Ginger Krieg Dosier, CEO and co-founder, bioMASON.
8% of global carbon dioxide emissions
Concrete is used everywhere in construction, but the current manufacturing process is not climate neutral. The traditional input is cement, which is fired at up to 1,000°C. This requires large quantities of fossil fuels, and the cement industry accounts for an estimated 8% of global carbon dioxide emissions.
In addition to being climate neutral, bioMASON’s method has other advantages. It can use what is currently waste material from mines, thus ensuring better use of resources. This method does not require oxygen, so concrete can be cast underwater and in space. More down to earth, construction workers can make biocement® building materials at construction sites.
Anders Spohr will join bioMASON’s Board of Directors as part of Novo Holdings’ investment.
bioMASON is Novo Holdings’ third bioindustrial investment in 2019. The other two are US-based LanzaTech, which has developed a pioneering platform for producing next-generation fuels and chemicals by recycling carbon emissions, and US-based Vestaron, a leader within peptide-based biopesticides that have the same efficacy as traditional synthetic pesticides but are safe for people, livestock, drinking-water and the natural environment.
“These companies need to commercialize new technology with great potential and often face a common challenge in attracting the necessary capital to scale up both the company and the technology. This is typically a chicken-and-egg challenge in which, for example, the company needs to invest USD 100 million in factories before a product can be produced and sold,” says Anders Spohr.
History provides numerous examples of new sustainable technologies requiring public subsidies in the initial and maturation phase before they can become independently competitive in the market. Nevertheless, Novo Holdings’ ambition is to find companies with technology that is so pioneering that the companies can become both financially and environmentally sustainable with appropriate marketing.
“When we invest in these companies, we provide capital, expertise and long-term patience, because even with cutting-edge technology, commercial breakthroughs cannot be expected to happen overnight. Overall, however, we see great potential in this field and will increase our investments in it,” says Anders Spohr.
About bioMASON, Inc.
bioMASON, Inc. is a unique biomaterials startup whose technology provides a better solution for reducing the CO2 emissions generated by global masonry manufacturing. Cement is the second-most consumed substance on Earth – following water. bioMASON’s biocement® building material is a biologically-derived, carbon neutral alternative cement.
bioMASON’s proprietary technology reduces CO2 emissions by using non-pathogenic microorganisms to grow structural biocement building material, providing an economically viable alternative to traditional processes and reducing global dependencies on non-renewable fuel sources and precious water resources. Biocement® building materials are only the beginning for this platform technology. bioMASON also is conducting research and development on a dust suppression application and a marine cement application for the U.S. Department of Defense.
About Novo Holdings A/S
Novo Holdings A/S is a private limited liability company wholly owned by the Novo Nordisk Foundation. It is the holding and investment company of the Novo Group, comprising Novo Nordisk A/S and Novozymes A/S, and is responsible for managing the Foundation’s assets.
Novo Holdings is recognized as a world-leading life science investor with a focus on creating long-term value. As a life science investor, Novo Holdings provides seed and venture capital to development-stage companies and takes significant ownership positions in growth and well-established companies within the life sciences. Novo Holdings also manages a broad portfolio of financial assets. Read more at www.novoholdings.dk.
About the Novo Nordisk Foundation
The Novo Nordisk Foundation is an independent Danish foundation with corporate interests. It has two objectives: 1) to provide a stable basis for the commercial and research activities of the companies in the Novo Group; and 2) to support scientific, humanitarian and social causes.
The vision of the Foundation is to contribute significantly to research and development that improves the lives of people and the sustainability of society. Since 2010, the Foundation has donated more than DKK 20 billion (€2.7 billion), primarily for research at public institutions and hospitals in Denmark and the other Nordic countries as well as research-based treatment and prevention of diabetes. Read more at www.novonordiskfoundation.com.
Anders Rosendahl, Senior Officer, phone: +45 4048 3766, mail: firstname.lastname@example.org