Marco Astorri People and Leaders

The Expansion of Bio-on (FREE)

Nature always finds a solution. Bio-on what happened? Founder and CEO of Bio-on, Marco Astorri, shares his incredible story in three articles from start-up, to expansion to todays' situation. Research and development must never stop … article # 02 the EXPANSION. This is a FREE article.

We remained lukewarm to the proposal and once back in Italy we continued our development work.

After a few days, Borsa Italiana, owned by LONDON STOCK EXCHANGE, contacted us and invited us to Milan

The proposal to list our company on the AIM was made once more to us.

We eventually accepted. It was perfect.

We quoted 10% and we had the necessary liquidity to enlarge the company, to transform it into a multinational.

Incredible work.

An interminable “road show” begins.

Our company was so amazing, clean and projected towards the future, that they take us everywhere, Italy, UK, Switzerland, France.

We went public on 24 October 2014 (let’s remember this date …) and it was a great success.

The company was immediately valued at € 100 million, and we collected around € 10 million.

Enough to hire technicians from all over the world, transform our business and grow.

A successful path, a dream that finally came true.

But we hadn’t calculated that envy and speculation were just around the corner.

Within a few years, thanks to the listing on the stock exchange, the company developed and became an international start-up.

The number of scientists, engineers, the organization, and control department, they all grew.

But the most exciting thing for us was using the money for technology and application research and development.

For the first time in the world there was a company that was open to the demands of companies.

Everyone knew PHAs and appreciated the opportunities for use.

Never has it had been possible to organize tailor-made research, to thoroughly verify the costs and types of polymers to be used.

It was a great way to grow while remaining always faithful to the IP business model.

The companies that began to work and develop projects with us came from all corners of the globe and they wanted to do only one thing: replace polluting plastic with PHAs.

Design, Automotive, Food, Cosmetics, Toys, took shape with hundreds of formulations and never expected to go into the mold.It was the most exciting part.

I still remember when a scientist in 2015 asserted that it was impossible to make a large object in PHAs.

From his research, no one had ever succeeded before.

I challenged him and said: “Who made the publications you read about how it’s impossible, and with how much material?”

Answer: ” a researcher who with a few grams made a simulation …”.

Here, then take these 5 quintals of PHAs and go to print so let’s see if it’s true or not.

I proved to be right, it could be done!

This is the essence of research.

Never stop, never take anything for granted, always seek new limits and try indefinitely.

We stopped at nothing. Like when we developed the first formulations for toys.

We had both a highly crystalline (rigid) and amorphous (flexible) product.

The product was certified by a european institute of toys certification ( UL-IISG Italian Institute Security Toys) as a completely natural material, and without wasting time we began to churn out toy soldiers, toy cars, etc.

Anything that it was assumed was too difficult to make.

Even LEGO-like bricks were printed for weeks on end.

We had mountains of them.

A big worldwide Toys company contacted us, and we planned to do amazing projects together, then everything sopped in July 2019, thanks to American hedge fund attack.

From 2015 to 2018 the company managed to develop the product, the technology to produce it in industrial quantities and the technical information to license it.

I have always believed that sharing was the good rule to follow.

I am against profit at any cost.

I believe in widespread profit.

Bio-on only managed to propose a new concept in the biopolymer market: sharing.

Protecting the IP meant letting everyone use the technology.

If the world needed large quantities of PHAs, the way forward was for many to do so.

Sharing the technology with a licensing strategy was possible.

And that was exactly what we started doing, Brazil, France, Italy, Russia and then Mexico, Thailand, Spain, Sweden and many more territories could have the possibility to produce excellent PHAs with our technology.

While this was happening, the scientists churned out applications that were each more interesting than the last and confirmed a new aspect that I had never considered before.

The PHAs of BIO-ON is a platform product.

When in 2007 I was in front of the MAC monitor looking for the biopolymer to be developed, I never thought I would be able to go beyond normal applications, like those dedicated to packaging.

Our product, in addition to being able to make all mass market applications, was extraordinary for everything that was, and still is, for others impossible to achieve.

I would never have imagined to create patents for the repair of human nerves, to create a family of PHBs capable of replacing all the micro plastics contained in cosmetics, to create the bioremediation with which to clean the seas from hydrocarbons …The PHAs obtained with the Bio-on process made us proud of the development and success we were creating.

Not to mention the consumables.

Starting from a source of waste carbon was the thing that left the more conservative engineers most surprised, those who studied Ziegler, Natta and all the plastics obtained from petroleum.

Looking at their faces when they realized that the production of PHAs, a fantastic linear polyester, was the work of a bacterium, was priceless.

They stood petrified.

Yet this simple process, it happened for millions of years and the fact that doing so, the world is not filled with plastic means not only that it is true, but that nature has found a solution.

Not like mankind who, with the inability to find solutions, can only fill the world with plastic.

Since 2015 we have discovered many other starting points for obtaining PHAs, such as glycerol, waste in the production of biodiesel, sugar cane, waste from fruit pressing, frying oils, olive oil pomace, the by-products of dates, animal fats and many others! Infinite sources present all over the world to produce biopolymers.

Then in 2016 we decided to invest to build our own industrial plant, of small size, to have more and more products to use for research and development and to develop niche businesses to be supplied directly. 

A new phase begins for the company which has in the meantime gathered a large sum of money from the stock exchange between 2015 and 2017.

In fact, Bio-on went from a 10% free float to 35% (more or less) through a normal warrant mechanism that allowed those who were entitled to exercise a share.

Investors had more shares and at the same time the company had fresh money to invest.

We laid the foundation of the Bologna plant in 2017 and inaugurated it in the summer of 2018. 

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One of the most beautiful and unforgettable moments of my career. I perfectly remember the training of the staff, which I often took part in too.

Seeing all those guys who enthusiastically tackled a new venture was very exciting.

You could see in their eyes the joy of being part of something important.

The construction site was taking shape and we who never had anything to hide published a video report of the progress every month.

We wanted investors to see where their money and ours were being spent.

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Recovering a former Yogurt manufacturing facility and transforming it into the most advanced PHAs manufacturing facility in the world was challenging.

The plant had to be extremely automated.

And so, we made it.

I have always had a natural distrust for those who explained to me that first we designed the “piping” then the software.

I wanted to do the opposite.

The iron had to be a slave of the SW.

Only in this way could it be possible to reduce the space to be used, optimize each production process to the maximum and generate a reliable process that could also use predictive maintenance.

It was not trivial, but with the support of Siemens and valid designers we were able to create a system that required very few personnel for each shift, open 24/7 with an incredible control room from where you could manage everything.

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