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Venture Capital
blueyard.com

Investments

51

Portfolio Exits

1

Funds

4

About BlueYard Capital

BlueYard Capital is a small venture capital firm that takes risks on great people with transforming ideas at early stages. BlueYard is a thesis driven firm that backs founders decentralizing markets, empowering users and liberating data.

Headquarters Location

Linienstrasse 137

Berlin, 10115,

Germany

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Latest BlueYard Capital News

Biomanufacturing Startup Visolis Has Raised $8 Million To Make Carbon-Negative Materials

Jan 11, 2023

Got it! Got it! Got it! Visolis Is there anything that can’t be built with biology? From yoga pants and cosmetics to bricks and high-performance skis , biology is powering the sustainable ingredients revolution. There is tremendous appeal in the promise of biomanufacturing to completely reimagine entire industries and revamp our economy. As consumer brands pledge to switch to ingredients that are better for the environment, synthetic biology companies focus on making sustainable manufacturing scalable and profitable. Setting its sight on growth and scale in 2023, a Berkeley-based startup Visolis just closed a seed funding round led by BlueYard Capital , bringing their total funding to date to $8 million. Contributors included Zeon Ventures, Global Brain, First Bight, and Acequia Capital adding to the list of the company’s pre-seed investors Cantos Ventures, Creative Ventures, and Incite Ventures. The company is graduate of the Activate fellowship program that works in partnership with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Cyclotron Road . They initially secured about $20 million in grants from the likes of DOE, USDA, NSF, and Gates Foundation to build out a platform for making carbon-negative high-performance materials, jet fuels, and specialty chemicals, before officially launching in 2017. The founder and CEO, Deepak Dugar, earned his PhD in Chemical Engineering from MIT, working in the lab of Greg Stephanopoulos who was one of the pioneers of field of “metabolic engineering” which is focused on making sustainable chemicals and materials in microbes. Since that time, Dugar has been focused on the goal of creating a platform that would make biological engineering as indispensable as chemical engineering had been during the 20th century. His academic background from MIT and the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Delhi, which has one of the only undergraduate programs in the world focusing on biotechnology and bioprocess engineering, has instilled in him the pragmatic thinking of an engineer. This is why the Visolis business model is centered around building a portfolio of technologies that have large markets and long-term business prospects: “Everyone fundamentally believes that biomanufacturing is going to change the world in the next 30 to 50 years. We need to be making everything using biology and using biological materials,” thinks Dugar. “But how do we get there? Only companies which can survive the next 5-10 years and grow business, grow revenue, and capture large parts of the marketplace will be able to be in a position where they can deliver on that vision.” MORE FOR YOU Biology meets chemistry A key aspect of Visolis’ approach to making cost-effective ingredients is using biology and chemistry for what each discipline does best. Biology is unique in that it can sequester greenhouse gases from the environment and convert them into valuable products. With it, we are literally making things out of thin air. Biological organisms can also carry out complex reactions to make large molecules that are recalcitrant to organic chemistry synthesis. But there comes a point where the magic of biology is no longer needed: for example, some reactions, like oxidation, are a lot easier to carry out using traditional chemical catalysis: “We use biology to make platform molecules. And then we use chemistry to turn them into a lot of different products. Because of this unique combination, we have an advantage both in terms of market as well as cost of technology development,” said Dugar. By using chemistry and biology together, Visolis can reduce that cost of bringing a new molecule to market by an order of magnitude. This is perhaps the biggest difference between Visolis and other synthetic biology companies, which are often spin-offs from academic labs: “What tends to get attention, what is kind of sexy is that early proof of concept. But that's where academia ends and the real work begins,” jokes Dugar. “Bioprocess yield calculations is not something you can publish in Nature.” Instead of showcasing the shiny new applications of synthetic biology, Visolis is focusing on what is the most optimal approach to making the chemicals they want to produce, and whether the targets they choose make economic sense. “Before even picking up a pipette, you can do a back-of-the-envelope thermodynamic analysis calculations to figure out what are the eventual numbers you could hit and does it make financial sense?” Building a versatile and flexible platform for sustainable future Visolis had a chance to showcase how effective biomanufacturing can be for solving real world problems in 2020, when they rushed to the rescue as the sudden hand sanitizer shortage hit the United States. Visolis used their supply of laboratory-grade alcohol to make the gel that people could rub on their hands. But with hand sanitizer becoming the most popular personal care item, many people experienced the adverse effect of alcohol drying out their skin. Visolis had another solution: they started adding mevalonic acid to their hand sanitizers formula to prevent dryness. The company was already positioned to produce the ingredient which naturally boosts skin hydration. Within weeks, the moisturizing hand sanitizer was out the door and in the hands of frontline workers. That ability to pivot and adapt really highlights the strength of Visolis: the company is building out their platform of sustainable, carbon-negative ingredients with applications across many areas. Their strategy is to develop several key platform molecules with large markets that can be used to make a variety of different products. In selecting those platform molecules, they are focusing on the ones where people are actively seeking replacements and the ones that offer a performance advantage: for example, replacing toxic solvents that are used in chemical processes with greener alternatives. Their current customers include two Japanese chemical industry giants, Nikko Chemicals and Sumitomo Chemical . Carbon-negative materials gaining traction When it comes to decarbonizing industries, we tend to focus a lot on the transportation fuels and greenhouse gas emissions, but what about the materials and products we use every day? While electric vehicles have provided a solution to move away from burning fossil fuels, the cars are still made out of fossil-derived materials, like plastics and rubber. Throughout the lifetime of the vehicle, no other part has to get replaced nearly as often as the tires. Over 2.5 billion tires are manufactured annually and the combined market for them is over $120 billion . “We burn through billions of dollars’ worth of tires every year. When we drive cars, we think of burning gasoline or diesel but you're also burning tires and possibly a pretty sizable amount,” says Deepak. There is a big opportunity to replace the existing supply chains with sustainable materials like carbon-negative tires. Many companies have pledged to become carbon-neutral in the next two to three decades. Those commitments mean they will be investing into technologies that make the most sense economically to make the transition more feasible. Investing in a better future At the heart of synthetic biology there is a passion to bring more sustainable solutions to our future. But synthetic biology is not just a sexy technology promising better return on investment. It is a way to protect our future. Investing in biotech means investing in our planet, building real products, and providing much needed solutions. Many investors share that attitude and are looking to put money into more practical, rather than flashy, technologies: "We are delighted to announce the closing of an investment in Visolis, a pioneering leader in the chemicals and materials industry,” commented David Byrd of BlueYard Capital. “Their innovative approach to sustainable solutions and commitment to driving technological advancement make them a standout in their field and a valuable addition to BlueYard's portfolio.” Thanks to people like Dugar doing the yield calculations, there is a high probability that those investments will pay off. Thank you to Katia Tarasava for research and reporting on this article. I’m an operating partner at DCVC which has invested in Visolis. I am also the founder of SynBioBeta and some of the companies I write about are sponsors of the SynBioBeta conference and weekly digest . Follow me on  LinkedIn . Check out my  website .

BlueYard Capital Investments

51 Investments

BlueYard Capital has made 51 investments. Their latest investment was in Vectary as part of their Series B on January 1, 2023.

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BlueYard Capital Investments Activity

investments chart

Date

Round

Company

Amount

New?

Co-Investors

Sources

1/25/2023

Series B

Vectary

$4.6M

No

BlueYard Capital, EQT Ventures, and Undisclosed Investors

1

1/11/2023

Seed VC

Visolis

$8M

Yes

7

12/30/2022

Unattributed

UTVATE

$12M

Yes

BlueYard Capital, and Undisclosed Investors

1

11/28/2022

Series A

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$99M

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10

11/2/2022

Pre-Seed

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10

Date

1/25/2023

1/11/2023

12/30/2022

11/28/2022

11/2/2022

Round

Series B

Seed VC

Unattributed

Series A

Pre-Seed

Company

Vectary

Visolis

UTVATE

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Amount

$4.6M

$8M

$12M

$99M

New?

No

Yes

Yes

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Co-Investors

BlueYard Capital, EQT Ventures, and Undisclosed Investors

BlueYard Capital, and Undisclosed Investors

Sources

1

7

1

10

10

BlueYard Capital Portfolio Exits

1 Portfolio Exit

BlueYard Capital has 1 portfolio exit. Their latest portfolio exit was FreedomFi on August 18, 2022.

Date

Exit

Companies

Valuation
Valuations are submitted by companies, mined from state filings or news, provided by VentureSource, or based on a comparables valuation model.

Acquirer

Sources

8/18/2022

Acquired

$99M

6

Date

8/18/2022

Exit

Acquired

Companies

Valuation

$99M

Acquirer

Sources

6

BlueYard Capital Fund History

4 Fund Histories

BlueYard Capital has 4 funds, including BlueYard Capital III.

Closing Date

Fund

Fund Type

Status

Amount

Sources

6/12/2022

BlueYard Capital III

$185M

1

1/2/2019

BY Capital 2

$99M

10

1/8/2016

BY Capital 1

$99M

10

1/4/2016

BlueYard Fund

$99M

10

Closing Date

6/12/2022

1/2/2019

1/8/2016

1/4/2016

Fund

BlueYard Capital III

BY Capital 2

BY Capital 1

BlueYard Fund

Fund Type

Status

Amount

$185M

$99M

$99M

$99M

Sources

1

10

10

10

BlueYard Capital Team

3 Team Members

BlueYard Capital has 3 team members, including current Founder, General Partner, Ciaran O'Leary.

Name

Work History

Title

Status

Ciaran O'Leary

Earlybird Venture Capital, Carlyle, and Lazard Frères & Co.

Founder, General Partner

Current

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Name

Ciaran O'Leary

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Work History

Earlybird Venture Capital, Carlyle, and Lazard Frères & Co.

Title

Founder, General Partner

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Status

Current

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