After Re-Engineering Itself, Verdezyne Sets Course to Develop Biofuels and “Green” Industrial Chemicals

11/20/09Follow @bvbigelow

After Carlsbad, CA-based Verdezyne disclosed last month that it plans to raise more than $15 million in venture funding, I arranged to sit down with Damien Perriman, the company’s vice president of business development.

As it turns out, the startup that was founded in 2005 as CODA Genomics has essentially re-engineered itself over the past 18 months. The company overhauled its core business strategy, recruited a new CEO, E. William Radany, along with a new management team, changed its name, and moved its headquarters from Orange County to Carlsbad, CA, about 28 miles north of San Diego. In changing its name to Verdezyne, the company created an identity that is better aligned with its revised focus on the “green design” of biofuels and industrial chemicals.

The company initially was focused on technology spun out from UC Irvine that used specialized computer algorithms to design synthetic DNA. The company offered its services in Computationally Optimized DNA Assembly, or CODA, to help drug discovery teams at pharmaceutical customers like Eli Lilly and Genentech design synthetic genes that could be used to maximize the production of certain proteins for their biotech drug manufacturing processes.

Perriman, who joined Verdezyne in February, tells me, “Our investors made a decision in 2008 that we could make a lot more money by doing the production ourselves.”

With its extensive experience in computational biology and bioinformatics, Verdezyne saw the value in creating high-diversity libraries of genes, so that various genes could be inserted into fast-dividing yeast cells (and other micro-organisms), essentially programming the microbes to produce enzymes it would not otherwise produce. Verdezyne landed a federal grant last month to help build out its genomic library.

“We prefer to work with yeast,” Perriman says, “but we can work with any fungi or bacterial organism.”

The company, which now has 26 employees, has identified three primary markets for its technology.

The first and most obvious target is an … Next Page »

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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