Author: Katie Mann, Sr. Marketing & Creative Communications Manager
It’s been a banner year for sustainability. Just this month, leaders from more than 200 countries gathered at COP28, the U.N.’s climate conference, to prioritize the world’s transition away from fossil fuels. For the first time in the conference’s 28-year history, water systems and human health are a focus of the agenda. This reflects the growing understanding that interconnected problems like contaminants can’t be solved in isolation. Earlier in 2023, we also saw wind and solar power generate more electricity in the U.S. than coal for the first time, while the Biden administration proposed a requirement that would replace all lead pipes in the U.S. within 10 years to address the neurotoxin at the federal level.
It’s also been a year of milestones for Allonnia. We celebrated the opening of our Seaport District office and lab space in Boston earlier this year, which quadrupled our footprint and enabled us to grow our talented team. We launched our breakthrough bioremediation solution, 1,4 D-Stroy™, which is capable of degrading 99% of 1,4-dioxane from contaminated groundwater using natural microbes. And this summer we raised $30 million in new capital in our Series A extension, bringing our total funding to $90M. These achievements are essential stepping stones in our mission to solve the biggest environmental challenges for net positive impact.
Amid so much positive momentum for Allonnia and broader environmental goals, I sat down with CEO Nicole Richards and Chief Commercial Officer Chuck Price to talk about their proudest moments of the year and what’s in store for environmental solutions in 2024. Below is an edited version of that conversation.
This was a big year for Allonnia. Which milestones from 2023 are you most proud of?
Chuck: In the past year we’ve begun to realize our ambitious vision by having two products in the field. Seeing the successful deployment of biological solutions like 1,4 D-Stroy was a major highlight of the past year.
Nicole: I agree. We’ve proven the initial thesis of Allonnia, that biology can heal itself, it just needs a little help. And that’s where we come in. Another big moment for me was seeing the diversity of investors in our recent funding round. It gives me hope that strategic investors such as BHP and Vale care about investing in a sustainable mining future.
And, of course, generative Al was one of the most talked-about topics of the past year. As the technology continues to develop, how do you see it impacting the biotech space?
Nicole: Al has the potential to expedite the design and refinement of biological systems including their practical implementation, which is the primary focus of Allonnia. Such advancements have the capacity to revolutionize our approach to various aspects, ranging from research and development to optimizing fermentation processes and creating tools suitable for environmental deployment. This includes the integration of predictive modeling and risk assessment. Overcoming challenges related to time and financial constraints is pivotal in the development and implementation of transformative biological solutions in environmental applications. The progress in Al offers the prospect of unlocking innovations that were previously deemed unattainable. I expect to see this impact increase exponentially next year and beyond.
We’ve also seen increased public awareness of PFAS in recent years, and many states have either enacted or are pursuing regulations of these harmful forever chemicals. What’s ahead in the fight against PFAS and other emerging contaminants?
Nicole: In the past year, we’ve seen strengthened EPA regulations requiring manufacturers to report the use, production, disposal, and hazards of PFAS in their products. I predict that regulations will expand to the consumer awareness level in 2024 and beyond, even going so far as to mandate that manufacturers clearly label PFAS-containing products to warn consumers about human health risks. This would go a long way in educating the public about the prevalence and harm of forever chemicals, similar to calorie disclosures on food or health warnings on cigarette packaging.
Chuck: On the technology side, we are advancing our solution to immediately sense and detect PFAS to increase visibility, speed up treatment, and reduce costs. This process currently entails significant lab testing in order to detect the presence of PFAS and determine the best treatment method. Looking even further, the next step beyond detection is prediction. As new Al applications come to market, it will become possible to predict the accumulation of harmful contaminants like PFAS based on inputs like proximity to a manufacturing plant, soil grade, and more.
What about in the sustainability space more broadly? What should be top-of-mind for companies heading into 2024?
Chuck: I think 2024 will be the “now or never” year for meeting 2030 environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals. Back in 2020, hundreds of companies and governments set ambitious ESG goals with target dates of 2030. But unless significant progress is made next year to reduce emissions, cut waste, and achieve carbon neutrality, many organizations will not meet these goals.
Nicole: I predict that next year, many companies will realize they don’t have the tools they need to reach these goals. Organizations with bold ESG commitments must come together to share ideas, and Allonnia is ready to engage in this collaboration. We’re excited to continue working with our partners next year to tackle these issues.
To learn more about Allonnia and the exciting milestones ahead for 2024, reach out to us here.
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