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Ontario Genomics invests in renewable chemicals

November 1, 2017

Ontario Genomics is pleased to announce its investment in Ardra Inc. via its Pre-Commercial Business Development Fund. Ardra is a specialty chemicals company focused on the production of natural ingredients for the cosmetics and flavour and fragrance industries. Their synthetic biology platform uses designer biochemical pathways to produce a large portfolio of high-value products.

Ardra’s development pipeline has two ingredients: 1) natural butylene glycol used in cosmetics, and 2) green leaf volatiles used in flavours and fragrances. The $100,000 investment from Ontario Genomics will advance the development of natural leaf aldehyde, a green leaf volatile used in green apple flavour, and as a scent in perfumery. The CEO Dr. Pratish Gawand commented: “We are thrilled to receive the funding from Ontario Genomics. It de-risks and supports the commercialization of Ardra’s process for natural leaf-aldehyde. The funding will help us establish a working process for the flavour ingredient as we continue to further develop our product pipeline.”

The cosmetics and flavour and fragrances industries are dominated by petrochemical-derived ingredients, as natural ingredients have fluctuating and high prices along with seasonal variations. Ardra’s processes use renewable feedstock such as agricultural or forestry biomass, and engineered microbes to allow for low cost production and a steady supply of natural ingredients at a constant price.  “Ontario Genomics is pleased to support the translation of innovative Canadian research into a practical solution that fills a market need,” said the CEO of Ontario Genomics, Dr. Bettina Hamelin.

Ardra is a Canadian start-up spun out of BioZone at the University of Toronto’s Department of Chemical Engineering. The CEO, Dr. Pratish Gawand and the CSO, Dr. Jonas Müller were both post-doctoral fellows in the laboratory of Prof. R. Mahadevan. Their technology builds on work done in the BEEM project that was previously funded by Genome Canada.