Startup claims fermentation expertise will provide differentiator in production of rare cannabinoids

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags cbg cannabinoids

BioMedican photo
BioMedican photo
A startup armed with years of university research is seeking to make a splash in the hemp space with a line of cannabinoids produced via fermentation.

The company, called Biomedican, is based in Fremont, CA.  It’s the brainchild of CEO and founder Max Mikheev, PhD.  Mikheev spent years working on genomics projects in Russia. 

Decades of experience working with target organism

 He and his team reportedly have combined decades of experience working engineering new strains of Yarrowia lypolitica,​ an 'oily yeast' species that the company says is the most appropriate fermentation platform for the production of cannabinoids.

Joining Mikheev at the helm of the new company is president Dennis O’Neill, who during a career in the investment banking industry has raised more than $2 billion in capital that flowed into startups in a variety of industries.

“I joined Biomedican in December of last year because I believe this is a multi billion dollar opportunity. We have built a biosynthesis platform that is applicable to multiple industries,”​ he said.

O’Neill said the company’s value proposition is based on the platform that Mikheev has built.  He said the company’s proprietary microbial strains can be used to produce a variety of cannabinoids at a fraction of the cost of deriving them from industrial hemp raw material.  In addition, O’Neill said that the company has data showing that its fermentation is less expensive that competing bioidentical

“We can produce an ingredient that is a 99% pharmaceutical grade compound at 70% to 80% below what the wholesale prices are now,”​ he said.

Getting enough of rare cannabinoids

In addition, O’Neill said the approach can yield commercial quantities of rare cannabinoids, such as CBN and CBG. The company said industry production experience shows that it can take as much as 10 kilos of industrial hemp flower material to yield 300 grams of pure cannabinoids.  And of that 300 grams, only about 2% will be the minor cannabinoids.  Finding a more cost effective way to produce these minor constituents will facilitate research and make it possible to bring products to market to benefit consumers, he said.

O’Neill said that while other companies are advertising the capability of producing minor cannabinoids like CBG, in his view the volumes and the pricing of those ingredients will not be competitive with BioMedican’s platform.

“We purposefully stayed away from CBD. Prices have collapsed and it has become a commoditized market full of me-too products,” ​he said.

O’Neill said the company’s goal is to provide new alternatives to the market to enable future growth.  The company said its platform will be able to produce not just CBN and CBG via fermentation but also THCA (Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid) and THCV (Tetrahydrocannabivarin) which have specific health benefits but are not psychoactive like THC.

“We believe we will have just a higher quality, less expensive product,” ​O’Neill said.  The company is completing its pilot facility in California to implement its patented process, and plans to have a contract manufacturer in place for scale up by the third or fourth quarter of 2021.

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