Biovation Acquisition Company

About Biovation

Environmentally friendly from the beginning...

biovations facility

Seeing market trends to remove formaldehyde and PVC from building products to improve human health and indoor air quality, Mike and Milton Riebel started making renewable composite table tops in the 1990s. In the process, they realized they had no way to surface such components in an aesthetically pleasing yet environmentally friendly way. While no viable "green" surfacing solution was on the market, they knew such technology was possible given their experience in biocomposites, digital printing, thin-film technology, and related fields. This inspired the Riebel team to invent BioSurf® (and a sister technology later called MicroPlyTM) by 2008.

Core competencies emerge

biosurf surfaceIncorporating as Biovation ("BIO-based innoVATION") and securing $1M in angel funding in 2009, the team filed additional patent applications and continued technology development. Core technologies emerged to further enhance BioSurf® and MicroPlyTM including proficiency with biocomposites such as polylactic acid (PLA) to enhance ease of extrusion, green adhesives and/or using thermoplastic properties of PLA to often circumvent adhesive use, digital printing on bioplastics that accommodates thermal processing and stretching, top-coat layers that are both wear resistant yet transparent, and custom imagery through both CGI and high-resolution scanning. During this process, even more Biovation technology emerged to enhance bioplastic processing (HySoyTM), improve fire resistance for architectural surfaces (BioFireTM), create digital HD printing aligned with 3D texture on any substrate (STRATUSTM), generate biocomposites like PLA for more fire-safe light diffusers (SafeLensTM), and combine nanophotocatalytics with biocomposites like PLA to establish new platforms for air/water purification and even keep organics fresh during shipping/storage (OptiCleanTM). These product names would come later, but Biovation's technology foundations were being established. Even these early prototyping efforts quickly captured public attention as featured on the Minnesota TV news in mid 2010.

Pilot facility and product development

Understanding the need to secure more capital and business expertise, Biovation acquired over $3.5M in funding from MVC Capital in 2012.  The firm purchased a 19,000 sq. ft. pilot production and R&D facility in Montgomery, MN along with core equipment including a digital HD printer, high-speed coater, laminator, and other essentials to process 5' wide rolls and 4' x 8' sheets.  Intellectual property (IP) protection was continued across all product lines within the US, Europe, and beyond.  To establish a product pipeline, BioSurf®, HySoyTM, and STRATUSTM were developed to production scale with others (MicroPlyTM, BioFireTM, SafeLensTM, & OptiCleanTM) being advanced to prototype/pilot levels. What had begun as an effort to surface local table tops had become an enterprise with a growing chest of intellectual property covering 7 products that could impact a host of global markets including decorative laminates, structural composites, architectural surfaces, plastics/bioplastics manufacturing, digital printing & signage, light fixtures, and air/water purification equipment. 

Dual strategy—products to customers and patents to acquirers

best in show

Foreseeing that the market opportunities for these products would far exceed what one startup could pursue, Biovation adopted a dual value-extraction strategy—to sell near-term products to customers and, in parallel, to selectively sell technology/patents to potential acquirers.  Regarding near-term product sales, BioSurf® was selected as the first product to launch at a pilot level to initiate market development and business-model validation. Using a web site and only limited marketing resources in mid-2014, BioSurf® products have already been sold to Google, Kaiser Permanente, and many universities who value its combination of aesthetic appeal and sustainability. Furthermore, BioSurf® won Best in Show out of 700 exhibitors at GlobalShop 2014 (see image right). To facilitate the pursuit of LEED credits by Biovation's customers, a Health Product Declaration (HPD) was obtained for BioSurf® products in July 2015 with a Cradle-to-Cradle Material Health Certificate to follow in August.

Moving forward—a team effort

Today, Biovation continues to grow its BioSurf® line of products, offering BioSurf® 2DL in sheets for bonding to boards or walls and BioSurf® 3DL for direct applications to tabletops and other surfaces via thermoforming.  The firm has forged strategic partnerships with leading bioplastic material suppliers, laminate fabricators, and distributors. Biovation employs HySoyTM to fabricate our own PLA sheets and rolls, offers STRATUSTM alongside BioSurf® sales, refines other products in the pipeline, and pursues opportunities to sell product lines to strategic partners.  The team continues to innovate, having provisional patent applications on topics including recycled plastics, architectural composites, metallic laminates, solid-surface materials, and more.  Biovation is led by President/COO Joseph Holmes, CTO Mike Riebel, CFO/Advisor Pete Seidenberg, and Production Manager Robert Miller with Winthrop & Weinstine as IP/Legal counsel. 

New product opportunities

To maintain clarity between product and IP sales, we sell BioSurf® 2DL, BioSurf® 3DL, and associated STRATUSTM products to customers via our BioSurf web site while selling the intellectual property for selected product lines to acquirers via this Biovation Acquisition Company web site. Visit these web sites to become a Biovation customer or to acquire our technology to launch your own product lines.