Top 10 chemistry start-ups

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Starting a new chemistry-based company is one part discovery, one part risk. This compelling combination prompted Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society, to highlight 10 chemistry start-ups to watch. C&EN's writers and editors chose the finalists from reader and adviser nominations based on the strength of their groundbreaking chemistry. The start-ups are profiled in this week's cover story.

Scientists at these 10 companies are using chemistry to solve a broad range of pressing problems, from fighting disease to controlling agricultural pests to making safer lithium-ion batteries. They produce a variety of chemicals and materials representing the breadth of the chemical enterprise. Although experts say it's harder than ever to raise funds to launch a venture-backed company, these 10 start-ups have managed to ignite the interests of investors with their innovative ideas.

Some of the firms are targeting well-known problems. For example, Massachusetts-based Ionic Materials, launched in 2012, seeks to prevent lithium-ion batteries from catching fire and causing accidents with their nonflammable, polymeric electrolytes. Another start-up, RNAgri, is developing pesticides for specific agricultural pests based on RNA interference. RNAgri, launched in 2011 in St. Louis, uses microbial fermentation to produce large volumes of double-stranded RNA that is protected from RNA-degrading enzymes. Other companies are finding solutions to lesser-known, yet still important, conundrums. Launched in 2016 with headquarters in Houston and Philadelphia, Solugen is using enzymes to replace the chemical synthesis of hydrogen peroxide — a clunky, energy-intensive process commercialized in the 1930s. C&EN writers predict that we'll be hearing much more about these 10 promising companies in the future.

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The article, "C&EN's 2018 10 Start-Ups to Watch," is freely available here.

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