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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 Prevent Waste
  • Principle 7 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

Self Identified as Green Chemistry?

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