Genomatica's Cameron Hibbert and Jim Wiley with Minister Kate Jones and Mackay Mayor Greg Williamson at BIO Conference 2019 in Philadelphia, PA.
Genomatica's Cameron Hibbert and Jim Wiley with Minister Kate Jones and Mackay Mayor Greg Williamson at BIO Conference 2019 in Philadelphia, PA. CONTRIBUTED

Biochemical company eyes Mackay base

A INTERNATIONAL company is in talks with community leaders about setting up a biochemical hub in Mackay.

The company has its eyes on this region because there is an existing biosphere and it has been producing biochemicals since the 1920s

Fresh from his trip to the United States, Mackay mayor Greg Williamson is feeling excited about connections he made while representing the city during an official trade mission, including Genomatica.

"We acquired some interesting leads while attending BIO. The focus of the seminar I presented at was exploring the possibilities of sugar as the source of biopharmaceutical and biochemical outcomes," he said.

"One company that was interesting, that I had a chance to spend a bit of time with was Genomatica."

Genomatica is a bioengineering company that develops sustainable materials using bio-based process technologies. It has earned widespread acclaim for its innovative technology.

Genomatica has created two biochemical alternatives to petrochemical. These bio-based alternatives are used in the production of compostable plastic bags, coffee capsules, food packaging, natural cosmetics and other personal care products, and even nylon.

"Genomatica already has an existing value chain in bioengineering and they produce a whole range of well-used goods. They produce things using biochemicals that once required petrochemicals," Cr Williamson said.

"They are interested in using sugar to produce their biochemicals. Mackay could be the ideal hub for this sort of operation, we've been producing biochemicals in this region since 1928 - we know what we're doing.

"We grow a third of Australia's sugar and this is the sort of company we should be talking to. They are serious investors and have set up operations around the world and are currently showing great interest in Mackay."

Cr Williamson attended the annual BIO Convention alongside Gladstone's Mayor Matt Burnett, Bundaberg's Mayor Jack Dempsey and Moreton Bay's Mayor Allan Sutherland.

During his trip he had the chance to deliver a presentation about Mackay's offerings to investors and Cr Williamson said he received promising interest in the region.

Cr Williamson said state and local governments were in open conversation with Genomatica and they were impressed with what our region was capable of.

"Our sugar industry has been operating for a very long time and we have the credibility. We could grow a whole lot more sugar we just need the investment and we need to know the growers will get a fair return out of it," he said.

"That's why conferences like this are so important to attend because it gives me the opportunity to put Mackay in the minds of investors and hopefully attract new industry and in turn jobs for the region."