SG Biofuels lands $17M in funding to expand jatropha operations

By Bryan Sims | January 20, 2012

San Diego-based SG Biofuels Inc., a bioenergy crop company using breeding and biotechnology to develop hybrid seeds of jatropha, has secured $17 million in a Series B round of financing led by Thomas, McNerney & Partners with participation from Finistere Ventures and existing investors Flint Hills Resources LLC and Life Technologies Corp.

As a result of the fresh infusion of funding, Pratik Shah, partner at Thomas, McNerney, and Jerry Caulder, managing director for Finistere Ventures, joined SG Biofuels’ board of directors. According to a statement by the company, the funding will be used to expand research and development and advanced commercialization efforts and global jatropha planting operations.

“We are very pleased to complete this financing and are privileged to add Thomas, McNerney and Finistere Ventures with their considerable track records and expertise to our team,” said Kirk Haney, president and CEO of SG Biofuels. “The funding comes at a time when we’re experiencing significant commercial adoption of our hybrid jatropha and will be instrumental as we continue to expand our global footprint.”

According to SG Biofuels, the company employs molecular breeding and biotechnology to significantly improve yields of jatropha seedlings and reduce input costs. The company added that it has developed proprietary hybrid seed production technology that enables large-scale deployment of higher yielding and uniform planting material adapted to unique growing conditions around the world. Its hybrid seeds, trademarked JMax, on average provide double the yield of existing commercial varieties planted in similar conditions.

The company, which has a research and development center located in Guatemala, locked up seed contracts last year to deploy 250,000 acres of jatropha using its JMax hybrid seeds. This includes an agreement with JETBIO, a leader of a multi-stakeholder initiative that includes Airbus, the Inter-American Development Bank and TAM Airlines, to deploy jatropha in Brazil for the production of biojet fuel.

In August, SG Biofuels announced a project working with a joint venture of India’s second largest petroleum company to develop and deploy elite hybrids of jatropha for use as biodiesel feedstock in India. SG Biofuels will be developing the strains for Bharat Renewable Energy Ltd., a joint venture of Bharat Petroleum.


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