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ASU spinout Heliae raises $28.4 million in new funding

August 07, 2013

Heliae, a spinout from Arizona State University, has announced it has raised $28.4 million in funding from existing and new investors. The funding will be used to support the operation and expansion of Heliae’s first commercial facility in Gilbert, Ariz.

Heliae has commercialized a platform technology that produces high-value products from algae. The company’s flexible Volaris platform combines the best of existing algae production models, utilizing both sunlight and low-cost carbon feedstocks to optimize output. Volaris is a mixotrophic algae production platform, a hybrid of known phototrophic and heterotrophic models, which affords decreased capital costs, reduced contamination, and increased productivity and product optionality.

“With Heliae’s first commercial plant on schedule for startup in the third quarter, the company is in the final stages of proving the viability of our flexible Volaris production platform and demonstrating economics at a commercial scale,” said Dan Simon, president and CEO of Heliae. “The sustained support of existing investors, as well as the addition of new investors, demonstrates our momentum and continued success in scale-up.”

Heliae’s commercial facility is being constructed in two phases, corresponding to the customer supply agreements already in place. Phase one will deliver a high-value nutraceutical product, derived from an algae strain that demands high light conditions. Phase two targets a personal care product that necessitates lower light conditions. These two versions of Volaris will demonstrate the platform’s unmatched flexibility in meeting customer needs in multiple sectors.

Existing investors include select members of the Mars family and the ASEAN-based global conglomerate Salim Group, through one of its subsidiaries, Agri Investments Pte Ltd. Heliae welcomed a new investor to this round of financing, Mr. Thomas J. Edelman, a private investor who has worked extensively with Heliae’s President and CEO, Dan Simon.

“AzTE is proud to see the market traction that Heliae has achieved through a disciplined approach to the commercialization of algae-related products” said Charlie Lewis, vice president of Venture Development for Arizona Technology Enterprises (AzTE). “In 2008, Heliae began their pilot operations in close collaboration with the ASU Laboratory of Algae Research and Biotechnology, and the company’s successful march to commercialization is a testimony to ASU’s commitment to performing use-inspired research that provides benefits to society.”.