Partner with JBEI to kick-start your next bio-advantaged product

The Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) has innovative technologies and deep expertise to help companies advance development of their next generation of bioproducts.

In a first-of-its kind program, JBEI is soliciting proposals from commercial partners to co-develop new target molecules. The proposed targets need not be based on prior JBEI or partner IP. JBEI will provide $50-100K in in-kind support for activities such as feedstock development, process development and demonstrations, biomass deconstruction using ionic liquids, lignin conversion and valorization, retrobiosynthesis for a wide range of target compounds, metabolic engineering, and possible scaling up of a fermentation process up to 300 liters through a collaboration with the Department of Energy’s Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts Process Development Unit (ABPDU).

Selected industry partners will provide in-kind support for activities such as target characterization and modeling, additional scaling of the process as necessary, as well as formulation and testing of products. Partners will receive free non-exclusive rights and a first option to license exclusive rights to JBEI project inventions.

As an example, JBEI has unique expertise in engineering the polyketide synthase pathway and could use this to develop new safe and effective agricultural chemicals. To learn more about this time-limited opportunity please contact Robin Johnston, JBEI’s Director of Commercialization at

In addition to partnering with JBEI, companies may license the following bio-based product inventions:

Molecules from microbes

Jay Keasling is JBEI’s Chief Executive Officer and leads synthetic biology research at the institute. Dr. Keasling is a member of the National Academy of Engineers.

JBEI researchers have engineered yeast to produce high levels of long-chain, fatty alcohols in the 12-18 carbon range. This is the first report of a bioproduct generated by yeast from biomass feedstocks alone. These fatty alcohols could be used in personal care products, lubricants, and potentially biofuels. (2017-097)

JBEI has engineered E.coli using elongases to directly synthesize fatty acyl-CoAs for the biosynthesis of compounds such as fatty acids, aldehydes, alcohols, and alkanes with desired acyl chain length ranging from C10 to C18. These compounds are synthesized from the starter molecule, butyryl-CoA, and are produced more efficiently than in alternative approaches. They can be converted directly to beneficial oils and therapeutics. (EIB-2386)

Renewable ionic liquids and soluble polyacids from deconstruction of biomass

JBEI’s Pretreatment and Process Development team has been awarded the Secretary of Energy’s Achievement Award for its contributions to the mission of the Department of Energy and to the benefit of the United States. The team pioneered the development of “bionic liquids” to enable one-pot conversion technologies that are feedstock flexible and economically viable to support production of biofuels and bioproducts.

The JBEI deconstruction team has patented several technologies to convert chemicals derived from lignin into renewable biocompatible, or “bionic liquids”, for use in biomass pretreatment and other industrial applications. One approach transforms monomeric phenolic lignin depolymerized products or oligomeric and polymeric lignin, or a complex mixture mix of these components, to tertiary amine salts (or ILs) via Mannich reaction. (2015-055) Another JBEI approach transforms lignin, hemicellulose, and their depolymerized products into aromatic aldehydes that can be further processed to produce ionic liquids. (2014-166)

JBEI also has a technology that produces soluble polyacids and dispersants from water-insoluble lignin using chelator-mediated fenton chemistry. The bio-based alternatives to polyacrylic acid have potential applications as dyes, paints, concrete, and pharmaceuticals, and could be used in diapers, cosmetics, paper, and ceramics processing. (2015-029)

Aromatics from plants

JBEI’s Life-Cycle, Economics and Agronomy Division team examining engineered sorghum plots in Davis, CA.

JBEI feedstocks researchers have engineered switchgrass and poplar plants to have reduced lignin content and enhanced cell wall digestibility, while also producing significant quantities of soluble protocatechuate (PCA). They diverted the lignin pathway by introducing the QsuB gene to achieve this result. Plant biomass is not compromised in the JBEI plants. (3266) This invention is currently being enhanced to boost PCA production and its conversion into muconic acid. (2015-138) (Not available in forage sorghum, silage corn, or alfalfa.)

To learn more about these and over 80 additional JBEI inventions please contact Robin Johnston at

For a more complete list of JBEI technologies go here.