With the aim of pursuing algae fuel commercialization dream, Margaret McCormick, the Chief Operations Officer of Targeted Growth, a Seattle-based biotechnology company, has spun off a new company from Targeted Growth, called Matrix Genetics. She is now the CEO of Matrix Genetics. The company will focus on the genetic engineering of single-celled algae for commercial scale oil yields.
The story of the spinoff is quite interesting. Margaret has been fascinated by the single-celled microorganisms since her graduation school days at MIT. While Targeted Growth focused on hybrid camelina for jet fuels, Margaret and her team of about a dozen scientists worked behind the scenes on modifying one of the relatively simple genetic strains of algae, cyanobacteria, to produce more oils.
As the early tests have been passed, Margaret feels that the effort will enable them to compete with the gene modification technologies of biggies like Synthetic Genomics and Joule Unlimited. The company is being nourished by the work of 12 scientists from Institute for Systems Biology.
So far, Matrix has five patent applications filed, with more to come, and it is on the fundraising trail, with a goal of nailing down its first $10 million to $15 million, McCormick says. But even at this very early point in the company’s development, McCormick says she has already had some preliminary talks with oil companies that she hopes could lead to technology licensing deals over the next couple years.
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