PhillyDeals: Renmatix offers biofuel process to other firms
Renmatix, the King of Prussia company that hired former Gov. Mark Schweiker three years ago to help scout locations for biofuel refineries, among other duties, is still raising piles of money. But it has shifted its focus from building its own large-scale facilities to licensing larger companies to use its Plantrose high-pressure process for converting waste into fuels and plastics.
, the King of Prussia company that hired former Gov. Mark Schweiker three years ago to help scout locations for biofuel refineries, among other duties, is still raising piles of money. But it has shifted its focus from building its own large-scale facilities to licensing larger companies to use its Plantrose high-pressure process for converting waste into fuels and plastics.
It's not that the oil-price crash has depressed the alternative-fuels market, says Mike Hamilton, the former Rohm & Haas executive who is Renmatix's chief executive officer.
Indeed, cheap oil is a stimulus for this business, Hamilton says. Total, the French oil company, has joined Philadelphia investor David Haas (of Rohm & Haas' founding family) and prior investors BASF and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, the California venture-capital firm, in investing more than $50 million in new funding for Renmatix.
Falling oil prices have led to cutbacks at Total's operations and boosted the company's interest in "new energy" sources that will reduce volatility in the prices of its raw materials, according to Hamilton. Total hopes to develop "fuels, lubricants, special fluids, and chemicals" using Renmatix technology, senior vice president Bernard Clement said in a statement.
Renmatix has licensed Total, BASF, and other manufacturers to use its processes in their own new facilities. New refineries cost hundreds of millions of dollars, and "I don't intend to [use up] that kind of capital" when multinationals are eager to license Renmatix technology and construct their own, Hamilton said.
So where does all the money go? Patent filings are expensive, as are research and joint development agreements, Hamilton said. The company employs around 40 at its King of Prussia headquarters and lab, and 40 at its production complex in Kennesaw, Ga.
Renmatix previously raised $20 million in 2007-08 and $75 million in 2012, including $30 million from BASF, the German chemical maker, which has also been developing production based on Renmatix technology.
CloudMine, the Philadelphia software firm that is developing what it calls the "most secure cloud mobile platform" linking corporate systems to employees on mobile devices, has raised $5 million in its first venture capital fund-raising, led by Wayne-based Safeguard Scientifics. Other investors include Philadelphia-based MentorTech Ventures; DreamIt Ventures; Ben Franklin Technology Partners; Mid-Atlantic Angel Group and Robin Hood Ventures; and DeSimone Group Investments, Cherry Hill.
CloudMine chief executive Brendan McCorkle tells me the money will be plowed back into product improvements, marketing, and sales. CloudMine counts Endo Pharmaceuticals and Digitas Health among its clients.