Avantium takes full ownership of bioplastics business Synvina

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Photo by Avantium Synvina was formed in 2016 to commercialise the YXY technology developed by Avantium to produce PEF-building block FDCA

Dutch biotechnology company Avantium has acquired full ownership of its YXY plants-to-plastics technology through the purchase of BASF’s shares in the Synvina joint venture, the company announced 27 Jan.

Synvina was formed in 2016 to commercialise the YXY technology developed by Avantium to produce PEF-building block FDCA. But BASF terminated its partnership earlier this year, citing disagreements over implementing the terms of the agreement.

The two companies revealed their dispute in October last year, stating that they disagreed on the timing for the fulfilment of the criteria to invest in the commercial-scale plant for FDCA (furandicarboxylic acid). The intent of the parties was to build the first commercial-scale plant for FDCA in Antwerp, Belgium, by the end of last year.

But Avantium announced in January last year that it was extending the pilot phase of Synvia’s FDCA production by 24 to 36 months in order to “optimise” future commercial-scale production.

After the mid-January withdrawal by BASF, Avantium has now regained the intellectual property, people and assets for YXY and has paid BASF €13.7 million for its equity stake in Synvina.

The YXY technology catalytically converts plant-based sugar into FDCA and plastics, such as the new polymer polyethylenefuranoate (PEF), which is a 100% bio-based alternative to PET.

In its latest statement on 27 Jan, Avantium said it is redefining “the path to commercialisation” for the YXY technology, adding that it will make further announcements on its new strategy during the first half of 2019.

Avantium has also appointed Marcel Lubben as managing director of Synvina, effective 1 February 2019.

He is joining chief operations officer Victor Vreeken and financial director Willem-Jan Meijer in Synvina’s leadership team.

Lubben worked for 25 years at DSM in various senior business roles, in licensing, corporate venture capital and technology. In his last role, he was president of Reverdia, a joint venture between DSM and Roquette for the production and sale of bio-based succinic acid.

“Our belief in YXY and its market potential is rock-solid. Producing FDCA and PEF is a complex innovation process that requires a completely new value chain,” said Tom van Aken, chief executive officer of Avantium.

“I have been following the progress on YXY for several years and am impressed by how it has been built out to a platform for unique materials with significant performance benefits,” said Marcel Lubben, adding he would strive to “bring this important technology to market.”

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