Cornell biotech startup utilizes unique techniques to maximize efficiency in producing food.

Courtesy of Zymtronix

Cornell biotech startup utilizes unique techniques to maximize efficiency in producing food.

March 6, 2020

Cornell-based Biotech Startup Gains International Corporate Partner

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With the vast array of resources and talent Cornell offers, opportunities of all sorts are abundant.

For Cornell research scientists Stéphane Corgié and Juan Diego Alonso J.D. MBA ’14, that opportunity was Zymtronix — a biotech startup that aims to revolutionize the way biological reactions are run.

The startup’s vision is to use enzyme immobilization techniques in biochemical reactions in the hopes of “increasing food supplies, reducing the cost of medicines and ensuring consumer chemicals are safe.”

In February, Zymtronix announced a partnership with global ingredient provider Tate & Lyle.

Tate & Lyle, which was established nearly a century ago, has made over $3 billion in sales and provides ingredients for food production in over 120 countries, including artificial sweetener company Splenda.

Tate & Lyle’s investment allows Zymtronix to improve and innovate upon their technology, with the goal of scaling up its platform to support process scale production. Zymtronix is in the initial stages in working with Tate & Lyle to improve the use of enzymes in the production of certain ingredients and improve cost efficiency.

According to Corgié, the company uses magnets to trap enzymes in a small area, which makes for very high efficiency. This enables companies to make ingredients for food — such as sweeteners, dairy products and beverages — much more efficiently, translating into faster and cheaper food production.

After meeting at a business conference in 2013, Alonso and Corgié created Zymtronix,

“as an industrial biotech startup developing and applying a universal enzyme immobilization and stabilization platform licensed from Cornell,” Corgié said.

During his time as a researcher, Corgié conducted research in the material science and engineering department, studying how enzymes can be used to trap carbon dioxide.

“After years of cross-disciplinary research in academia, I finally decided being an entrepreneur was the best way to leverage my work and make a positive impact in the world,” Corgié said.

Shortly after Zymtronix’s founding, the McGovern Center — a Cornell biotech incubator — provided the young startup resources and funding to aid in its establishment.

Zymtronix went on to win multiple pitch competitions around the world since its founding, as well as competitive grants from the National Institute of Health in 2019 and the National Science Foundation in 2014.

The startup’s technology has enabled companies to maximize the efficiency of biological reactions. Their processes are also efficient in the way it allows for the enzyme speeding up the reaction to be reused, according to Corgié.

“[Tate & Lyle’s investment] will enable us to further scale up our enzyme immobilization technology, advance our processes, develop our own target ingredients, and grow our team,” Corgié said.