Unilever, Solazyme Teaming Up on Algae Oil R&D

| About: Unilever NV (UN)
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San Francisco-based Solazyme, Inc., a renewable oil and bioproducts company, has signed a research and development agreement with Unilever (NYSE:UN) to develop oil derived from algae for use in soaps and other personal care products. The agreement follows the culmination of a yearlong collaboration between Solazyme and Unilever, in which Solazyme’s renewable algal oils were tested in Unilever product formulations.

Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Solazyme said the companies are working to demonstrate a process at a commercially relevant scale. The work will further develop Solazyme’s technology platform, which allows algae to produce oil and biomaterials in standard fermentation facilities.

“Solazyme’s algal oils can help meet the growing demand for completely renewable, natural and sustainable personal care products," Jonathan Wolfson, CEO of Solazyme, said.

Solazyme’s investors among others include Braemar Energy Ventures, Harris & Harris Group (TINY), Lightspeed Venture Partners, The Roda Group, and VantagePoint Venture Partners.

Unilever is also exploring other sources of renewable oil for use in its products. The company has received criticism from environmentalists for relying on palm oil producers contributing to deforestation. As a result, Unilever recently blacklisted one palm oil supplier in Indonesia and pulled a $33 million contract from another.

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