Yellow Springs biotech startup celebrated (Dayton Business Journal)
This article, written Kaitlin Schroeder, first appeared in the Dayton Business Journal on April 8, 2016. You can read the original post here.
A pioneering Yellow Springs startup that intends to make food production more sustainable was celebrated by investors and Dayton officials.
The company EnviroFlight was recently acquired by West Palm Beach, Fla.-based Intrexon Corp., yielding a return for the investors that believed early on in the company. The company uses bugs digesting by-products like food waste in order to make animal feed and other nutrient products.
EnviroFlight makes animal feed, fertilizer and other products by feeding black soldier flies by-products left over from brewing, ethanol production and food manufacturing.
"We solve two problems with a very tiny organism: We solve the feed problem and we solve the waste problem. So we truly believe that bugs do save the world," said EnviroFlight's president Glen Courtright, at a press conference Thursday at the Engineers Club in downtown Dayton.
The 17-person company out of Yellow Springs will remain where it's at after the acquisition.
Courtright told the story of the young company's labored initial efforts that started ten years ago with a work trip to Alaska and seeing the crippling effects climate change was having, warming up areas in the remote state.
That experience launched a series of trial and error trying to find a sustainable fuel business. Courtright said he eventually was given the idea from a friend to research using bugs, which are full of protein and fat to break up waste products and have the nutrients to feed animals.
Creating the business was a long process of inventing how to breed the flies on a large scale.
The company is currently seeking regulatory approval to use the by-product from the flies to feed farmed fish in a sustainable way.
"We're raising the bug to feed the fish to feed the people," he said.
Intrexon Corp. (NYSE: XON) works in synthetic biology. The company will form a joint venture with Darling Ingredients (NYSE: DAR), a publicly-traded developer and producer of sustainable national ingredients from bio-nutrients. Terms of the deal were not released.
In 2012, EnviroFlight was invested in by the Dayton Development Coalition's Dayton Region Signature Fund, a venture capital fund targeting launching high-tech startups in the region.
By being acquired by Intrexon, EnviroFlight exited the investment fund and earned its investors a return.
"This is not just a positive exit for our investors but this also illustrates entrepreneurs in the Dayton area," said Roger Edwards, vice president of the Accelerant Venture Capital Fund, of the Dayton Development Coalition, which co-invested in the company.
The speakers who addressed the gathering said smaller companies don't always get as much attention as some of the larger, accomplished companies in the area, but the startups are also important to note.
"Fuyao, CareSource, those are big companies that get all the publicity, but they were startups here too but in a different way," said Jeff Hoagland, president and CEO of the Dayton Development Coalition. "Companies like EnviroFlight, they don't get that publicity like some of those companies do, because there's so much that people don't know about the entrepreneurial work that's going on the Dayton area."