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Amyris Biotechnologies Commercializing Biofuel

Company name
Amyris Biotechnologies 

Gary P. Pisano, Alison Berkley Wagonfeld

Harvard Business School

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Amyris Biotechnologies Commercializing Biofuel

Year published 

Last year covered in case 


In 2009, Amyris Biotechnologies was building a plant in Brazil that used synthetic biology to convert sugarcane into both renewable fuels and renewable chemicals. The Amyris' marketing team was investigating the commercial interest for both types of products, while the research and development team and the operations group were building processes that could accommodate both as well. CEO John Melo hoped to have commercial product available in 2011; however, he realized that pursuing both chemicals and fuels added even more complexity to a business that was already executing multiple development steps in parallel. The case looks at the various strategic and operational decisions facing Melo as he planned the company's optimal commercialization strategy.

Teaching note

  • N/A 

Key Management Reading

  • Ambec, S. & Lanoie, P. (2008). Does it pay to be green? A systematic overview. Academy of Management Perspectives. 45-62
  • Reinhardt, F. (1999). Bringing the Environment Down to Earth. Harvard Business Review. July; 149-157 

    Other Readings

    • N/A

    Audio/Visual Material

    • N/A 

    Discussion Questions

    • N/A

    Green Chemistry Principle

    • Principle 1 Prevention
    • Principle 7 Use of Renewable Feedstocks
    • Principle 8 Reduce Derivatives
    • Principle 9 Catalysis

    Automotive and transportation
    Bulk commodity chemicals 

    Teaching Topic
    Environmental issues
    Technological change and development

    Management Discipline
    Business, government and society 

    Business Logic
    Differentiating products
    Redefining markets

    Environmental Issue
    Climate change

    Latin America

    Self Identified as Green Chemistry?

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