Auckland-based, globally oriented clean tech company LanzaTech seems to have partnered up with a very useful collaborator for the next stage of its growth.
LanzaTech uses a gas fermentation technology, with patented bacteria, to convert industrial plant waste gas flues into useful products. As an example of turning something nasty into something of benefit to us, and removing the polluting and climate warming effects of the gases from the atmosphere, it scores heavily on many fronts.
Already it has signed partnering deals with a Korean steelmaker, Chinese coal producers/users and India’s largest oil marketer.
To complete an Asian quartet, it has also just signed a MOU with Japan’s Mitsui Global Strategic Studies Institute, and perhaps more tellingly, with its close relative Mitsui Plant Systems – its engineered plants business group.
Now, LanzaTech’s gas fermentation, carried out to scale, requires big plant and engineering skills.
Mitsui has operations in 56 countries – and knows how to build stuff. It’s revenues are equivalent to about half of New Zealand’s GDP.
Assuming LanzaTech can retain and improve its proprietary lines of bacteria, it relationship with Mitsui (and other partners) should allow it to stick to that particular expertise.
One of the little rules of business is that speed to market and market success is very much based on who you partner with.
So far, so partnered; though given its rapid growth, LanzaTech will be looking forward to the day when some of its overseas plants actually start producing.
The company flies under the radar of most observers in New Zealand. Indeed, most of its public relations and media direction points to the global market.
It intends to retain its R&D capability in New Zealand – and many of the highly skilled scientists in their particular field will be attracted to these shores for the lifestyle and opportunities LanzaTech provides.
Its business model, that of keeping and developing the ‘brains’ side of the operation in New Zealand, while working alongside others who provide their own particular brains and muscle to build things is probably the only way to really develop the technology.
No New Zealand company could afford to design and build the engineering plant that converts such non-food renewable resources into ethanol and key chemical building blocks used to make polymers, plastics and hydrocarbon fuels.
The company’s been on a huge growth curve, and has a number of high profile investors, including Khosla Ventures out of California and Stephen Tindall’s K1W1 (among others).
LanzaTech won an award at the recent NZBio conference in Auckland. It won’t be the last gong it picks up; which for the sake of New Zealand and the wider science and engineering community in this country can only be a good thing.