Biocee Inc., a Minneapolis-based start-up licensing technology from the University of Minnesota, has won a share of a $2.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to promote next generation energy technology.
The grant, which also goes to the university and the Pacific Northwest Laboratories, is part of an overall pool of $151 million DOE awarded to 37 companies as part of its newly formed Advanced Research Projects-Energy (ARPA-E) program.
ARPA-E, which sounds like DOE's version of Defense Advanced Projects Agency (DARPA), seeks to develop early stage and late stage "transformational" energy-related technologies. The program, first established in 2007, received $400 million in federal stimulus money.
"After World War II, America was the unrivaled leader in basic and applied sciences," U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said in a statement. "It was this leadership that led to enormous technological advances. ARPA-E is a crucial part of the new effort by the U.S. to spur the next Industrial Revolution in clean energy technologies, creating thousands of new jobs and helping cut carbon pollution."
In its press release, the DOE specifically cited the work of BioCee as one of three examples of the kind of transformational technology ARPA-E seeks to fund. The start-up seeks to manipulate the DNA of microorganisms into biocatalysts that can directly convert sunlight and carbon dioxide into clean biofuels.
“BioCee’s latex, thin-film coatings – originally developed by Prof. Michael Flickinger while at the University of Minnesota – maintain our unique biocatalysts in a healthy, stable, and productive state,” said Professor Larry Wackett of the University of Minnesota Biotechnology Institute. “The goal is to build an integrated reactor system that very efficiently converts CO2 into biofuel.”
BioCee has already won a $150,000 Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Science Foundation.