World Economic Forum dubs Kiwi firm Lanzatech future-changing

Auckland-based biofuels pioneer tipped by the influential forum as "an industry-changing company with the potential to transform the future".

BUSINESSDESK: Auckland-based biofuels pioneer Lanzatech has been tipped by the influential World Economic Forum as "an industry-changing company with the potential to transform the future".

Already highly decorated with a string of innovation and bio-technology awards and contracts to work with the US defence and aerospace industries, as well as steel mills and refineries in China and India, the latest award is significant because of the WEF's global clout.

The company has attracted investment from billionaire US clean-tech investor Vinod Khosla and the founder of the Virgin empire, Sir Richard Branson, along with noted New Zealand investors including Warehouse founder Sir Stephen Tindall.

Lanzatech has been named a WEF Technology Pioneer, a 12 year-old programme that has recognised more than 400 companies, including Twitter, Wikimedia and Technorati, and will receive the award at a global forum in Tianjin, China, next month.

Lanzatech has succeeded in attracting investment and scientific collaboration with top Chinese government science agencies, with its enzyme-based process for turning waste carbon monoxide gas flows from major industrial plant and producing biofuels.

The company has previously talked of an intention to list on a sharemarket in the next two years, with a head listing likely in either the US or China, but NZX listing also a likelihood.

Meanwhile, documents lodged with the Companies Office show that, consistent with its status as an early stage venture capital company, Lanzatech made a $17.6 million loss in the nine months to December 31, in a set of accounts that do not allow direct comparisons with the previous year owing to a balance date change.

In the 12 months to March 31, 2011, the company had reported a $14.2 million loss. The most recent nine month result reflected a $2.3 million impact from the strength of the New Zealand dollar.

Total revenues from grants for the nine months was $2.7 million, against total operating expenses of $16.2 million.

It was carrying assets of $73.5 million on its books at December 31, of which $52.1 million was in cash or cash equivalents, following successful equity raisings during the period, and compares with total assets of $15.3 million at March 31 last year.

Total accumulated losses stood at $50.9 million at December 31.

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