Thai energy firm invests in American biotech startup

The biotechnology arm of Thai energy firm Bangchak Corporation has invested in and will collaborate with Manus Bio, an American startup specializing in “synbio,” or synthetic biology, a young field that many expect will become a new economic driver.

Bangchak has long had a partnership with the Khon Kaen Sugar Industry company in which they use sugar cane and agricultural waste to produce biofuels. The investment in Manus Bio is aimed at developing value-added products aside from biodiesel.

“Previously we redesigned our business by adding value to commodity-grade agricultural products to make biofuel. Now this will be our new chapter, to add value to the manufacture of products related to health and wellness,” said Kittiphong Limsuwannarot, Chief Executive of BBGI.

Thailand has an impressive reputation as an agricultural powerhouse. Its treasure trove of natural resources is important for food security and the ecosystem. Now, the Kingdom is growing its technology and startup ecosystems, by funding and nurturing new home-grown innovative companies and by investing in or acquiring promising tech companies overseas.

The investment in and collaboration with Manus Bio shows that there can be a healthy and promising synergy between the two fields.

Manus Bio is a Massachusetts-based company founded in 2011 that says its goal is “to disrupt traditional chemical manufacturing to grant sustainable and equitable access to nature’s most precious products.”

The company is engaged in researching and manufacturing bio-agrichemicals, sustainable (bio) materials, and pharma and biotech, or novel therapeutics to improve human health.

Those areas synchronize up with BBGI’s aim of producing bio-products to support health and wellness. Thailand’s government is promoting the bioeconomy, research and development, and the health and wellness industry as part of its advanced national development strategy called Thailand 4.0.

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