Best of Madison Business 2012: Poised to Break Through

Virent, a Wisconsin CAPCO program company, and its CEO Lee Edwards are highlighted in the Best of Madison Business winners list.  The winners included companies that have made discoveries that will change the way we live.

Virent: Lee Edwards, President & CEO

Scientists and inventors have been chasing this idea throughout history: making something out of nothing, or if not nothing at least something most of us don’t want or need. Virent’s breakthrough BioForming technology transforms soluble plant sugars from corn stover and pine tree materials into hydrocarbon molecules similar to those produced at a petroleum refinery.  Grass to gasoline, or something like that. The renewable hydrocarbons can be blended seamlessly to make gasoline, jet fuel and diesel.

Last year Virent successfully produced “biogasoline” from crops that are not part of the nation’s food supply. The rest of the world is paying attention to the breakthrough technology of president and CEO Lee Edwards’ team. The World Economic Forum recognized Virent as a Technology Pioneer, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency handed the company a Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award. Investors include Cargill, Shell and Honda, and the big news this year was a completed study that showed cars running on biogas had the same engine wear as those on regular gas—and they may pollute less.

The firm is currently working on plans to open a commercial-scale biorefinery to produce biofuels with completion slated for 2014 and operations starting in 2015. The company’s key strategic collaborators include Royal Dutch Shell, which is pushing the pedal on the technology’s time to market as well as greatly broadening avenues for commercial penetration.

Each year Madison Magazine gives special recognition to one Best of Madison Business winner. Virent is the 2012 recipient of the Brian Howell Award for Excellence in Innovation, named after late editor Brian Howell, a champion of the tremendous possibilities that science and technology hold for human and environmental health, as well as economic growth in Dane County and Wisconsin.

Read the original article from Madison Magazine.