The period from 2018 to 2019 was very busy.
The plant went into operation in the spring of 2019.
Seeing that what you had designed in 2017 on paper working and producing, was truly a great satisfaction.
It usually takes a long time and many chemical plants don’t work for years.
Our team was able to capitalize on the years of experimentation and scale up in the hutch, all the data available and all the investments made.
Climbing 20 meters above the ground and hearing a 100,000 liters fermenter running when you started with a former rabbit hutch and a 6 liter countertop fermenter and then a 3 meters high 1000 liter fermenter, it’s a great experience.
In a flash you remember all the meetings, all the changes made, the faces of the people who continuously and incessantly collected data for years, modified and tried again.
CAD designers, welders and calendars up to transport.
Giant trucks that transported these huge fermenters, the result of years of work, on the highway at night and assembled them in the factory.
Being at the top of that ladder and looking at the glistening and huge fermenters accompany the simple bacteria present for millions of years on earth that in that exact moment produce a natural and high-performance polymer, truly represents the crowning of a dream…
Bio-on was getting bigger founding more and more customers.
Not only were licenses granted around the world, where the various partners were preparing to build new plants, but everyone came to visit the production plant and wanted to develop new applications.
I am very grateful to the by-products that I use as a raw material.
Today everyone talks about the circular economy but seven years ago there were few, indeed very few, to do so.
Linked to Pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudato si” which lays the foundations of a new ecology, I was invited to participate in the creation of a book under the auspices of the Vatican and Christian entrepreneurs.
The book opens with a sentence from the president of the World Bank and hosts ministers and entrepreneurs who write for the Pope what the new ecology is for them.
I wrote the chapter “The systems of production and consumption, and the overcoming of fossil fuels. The culture of waste “.
It was a great success and I was received by Pope Francis who directly presented the book to the world.
On 24 October 2018, in Moscow I signed an agreement of primary importance in the field of technological and commercial relations between Italy and Russia in the presence of the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin and the President of the Italian Council, Giuseppe Conte.
The total value of the transaction for Bio-on was 17.6 million euros: 5.6 million for the license to use the technology for the production of 100% natural and biodegradable PHAs bioplastic, and 12 million for the design and supply of high-tech fermentation plants to the TAIF JSC group.
Thanks to this agreement, the first plant for the production of PHAs bioplastic with Bio-on technology would have been built in the Russian Federation (Republic of Tatarstan).
The TAIF JSC group invests 90 million euros in the production cente
The commissioning was scheduled for 2020.
The agreement marked an important milestone for per Bio-on exactly 4 years after the listing on the Milan stock exchange on 24 October 2014 (… 24 October, let’s not forget this date).
The media echo was overwhelming.
The start-up born from a rabbit hutch had no limits in growth.
The largest companies in the world from The United States, Europe and Asia wanted the PHAs of Bio-on and the statesmen accompanied them to the signing of contracts.
A change of pace was needed.
The start-up had to transform itself into a multi-national.
For this reason, we developed a strategy linked to the creation of JVs to maintain the ownership of the patents and to license applications to leading companies and devise a reserved capital increase to bring liquidity by mid-2019.
Let’s start with the realization of both projects.
In the meantime, Bio-on products finally arrived on the market. April 2019 is the protagonist of a strange coincidencein the presentation of two products simultaneously on the same day.
There is the presentation of the firstcabinet to the world of design produced by KARTELL and presented at the Milan furniture fair and the release of the MyKai sun cream produced by Bio-on for UNILEVER and marketed exclusively on AMAZON.
These two issues were widely taken up by the Italian and world press and confirmed the concreteness of Bio-on which was not only seen as a company that was revolutionizing the world of true green polymers, but also, as a concrete reality that placed on the market two products with internationally renowned brands in two very different sectors (FURNITURE, SUN CREAMS).
This release did nothing but emphasize the extreme versatility of the Bio-on biopolymer that could be used to make objects such as furniture, but also being a fundamental cosmetic ingredient to accentuate the value of a cosmetic sunscreen.
The idea of the platform product was realized: No competitor was able to do similar things.
Everything was going well and the company listed on the AIM in Milan, alone, moved more than half of theindex value.
We had to move to another market and transform ourselves from START-UP to multinational.
All the largest merchant banks in the world offered us a reserved capital increase to raise200 million euros.
We chose the largest of them and organized everything.
The bank had formalizedcontracts with Bio-on exclusively and within a few weeks achieved a DUE DILIGENCEand the creation of a teaser to offer to investors.
The target was to recover between 150 and 200 million eurosby JULY 2019 or at the latest September 2019 in time to be able to carry out all the projects opened by the company.
Foreign and Italian investors immediately joined, with great success in the operation that was underwayto its realization in record time.
We arrived at the definition of the opening of the virtual data room where the events of interest would be deposited from 24 July 2019 (the day of the attack on Bio-on by the speculator).
At the limit of July 24th the operation vanished due to the attack.
The night before (23 July 2019) I was thinking about the important milestone reached, in having managed to build the largest biopolymer company in the world, which started in 2007 from a rabbit hutch, arrived in July 2019 to have a liquidity injection of 200 million (for 10%) and a capitalization in the stock market of more than a billion.
Nobody would stop Bio-on anymore.
The ending was a totally different story.
July 24, October 24, 2019.
In just 3 months from the short selling activities by the hedge fund, despite our complaints, despite our personal commitment, despite the concreteness of everything we made, the world of finance was turning its back on us and the authorities said nothing, they took no position.
We were left to ourselves.
Such a thing had never happened before on the Italian stock market (which is a small stock exchange with very few exchanges…).
It was the first time in Italy that a listed company had been attacked by a speculator.
It’ something that happens much more often in the USA, in Germany and the UK. It was the first time for Italy.
All authorities remained petrified and our struggle to explain that the accusations made against us were unjustified was in vain…
Our reputation was destroyed and the security value collapsed in 24h.
The rest doesn’t matter anymore.
It felt like our company was taken from us.
Our investors (including us) are waiting for justice.
But justice may take a very long time, even years.
Meanwhile, the company and the plant are at a standstill and perhaps, for now, they don’t bother anyone anymore.
Postings in this Column
- Have You Ever Planted a Tree? Well, While You Wait For It to Grow, Use Biopolymers Too
- The Sea Starts from your Home
- The Current Situation of Bio-on
- The Expansion of Bio-on
- The Start Up of Bio-on
- New Columnist on Bioplastics News
The opinions expressed here by Marco Astorri and other columnists are their own, not those of Bioplasticsnews.com.