Charlottesville start-up earns grant from EPA

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) – A Charlottesville start-up is getting a hand from the EPA to help further its technology.

Ourobio is among 25 businesses receiving funds to fight some pressing environmental problems.

“We’re all environmentally focused, we wanted to use some bio to solve environmental problem,” Ourobio CEO Alce Brewer said.

Brewer recently graduated from the University of Virginia. He started his synthetic biology company in 2019 with some of his classmates as a school project. The team wants to use micro-organisms to perform tasks that they otherwise wouldn’t be capable of.

His team is using byproducts of cheese and yogurt to create more-environmentally friendly versions of the dyes often used in biodegradable plastics.

“There are still things that will hold us back from achieving what I guess many would consider to be holistic sustainability. One of those things is additives,” Brewer said.

Initially, additives were not a part of their plan but he soon realized it’s an important part of being holistically sustainable. Brewer says it’s a piece of environmental projects often left as unsustainable.

He says they’re building something that people want their hands on quickly, but they need funding to meet the demand.

“We look for non-dilutive sources of funding and are very fortunate to have as much support and access to these resources as we do from the federal government here in the U.S.,” Brewer said.

He says it took several weeks of long night to craft the team’s application to get them this money from the Environmental Protection Agency. It’s a big step forward for the team. As a newer company, Brewer says its funds like this that keep them going.

“Every day, we’re doing everything we can to kind of work out the kinks, improve the process, and with that drive down what will be the final cost of our product,” Brewer said.

If you want to help support the company, you can visit Ourobio – Using synthetic biology to create the circular economy. Brewer says you can reach out to him through the contact page.

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