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RNA Manufacturer Goes Public in $282M Merger

Bumble bee and flower

(Daniel Krieg, Wikimedia Commons)

11 Aug. 2021. A company producing synthetic RNA for agricultural and biomedical applications is now a public company after a special-purpose acquisition. The merger with Environmental Impact Acquisition Corp., a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, is expected to bring shareholders in GreenLight Biosciences Inc. in Medford, Massachusetts proceeds of $282 million.

GreenLight Biosciences produces synthetic ribonucleic acid, or RNA, initially for safer and sustainable pesticides for growers, but also for developers of vaccines and therapeutics in health care. RNA is a nucleic acid that carries instructions from genetic codes in DNA to cells for production of proteins. The company says it uses a cell-free process to produce RNA strands from enzymes programmed like chemical templates. Those enzyme templates deliver nucleotides, the chemical building blocks, for assembly into RNA strands.

One of GreenLight’s lead products is an RNA-based pesticide that kills the varroa destructor mite, a parasite responsible for collapse of honeybee colonies, as well as other pesticides to protect crops, without environmental harm. The company says its pesticides use RNA aimed at critical growth genes in the target organisms, while remaining safe for plant crops and the surrounding environment. In addition, GreenLight manufactures synthetic messenger RNA, used in Covid-19 vaccines and antibody therapies, as well as treatments that generate an immune response to treat disease. The company says it’s developing Covid-19 and influenza vaccines of its own, and treatments for inherited disorders, such as sickle-cell disease.

Market valuation of $1.5 billion

GreenLight Biosciences is becoming a public company by merging with Environmental Impact Acquisition Corp., a publicly-owned SPAC enterprise, already listed on the Nasdaq exchange. The merger, announced yesterday, is expected to bring GreenLight shareholders $282 million, with $105 million of the proceeds raised through a private investment in public equity transaction with a consortium of investors at $10 a share. At that price, the new company has a market valuation of $1.5 billion.

“We believe that GreenLight’s breakthrough platform,” says GreenLight’s CEO and co-founder Andrey Zarur in a company statement released through BusinessWire, “can create advanced therapies, vaccines, and crop-protection products that address — quickly, directly, and specifically — some of the most significant problems facing the world today. Going public through this partnership will accelerate development and commercialization by enabling us to attract the talent, purchase the tools, scale our manufacturing infrastructure, advance regulatory approvals, and develop further the science necessary to address some of humanity’s most pressing challenges.”

Dan Coyne, CEO of Environmental Impact Acquisition Corp. or ENVI, notes, “In creating ENVI, our goal was to partner with a high-growth, technology-rich business, propelled by a large market opportunity and a business model supporting critical sustainability initiatives.” Coyne adds, “GreenLight has a pipeline of RNA products spanning human, animal, and plant health that are being developed to serve the needs of billions, promoting improved access to wellness, sustainable agriculture, and health.”

GreenLight Biosciences is following a similar route taken recently by Ginkgo Bioworks, another synthetic biology manufacturing company. As reported by Science & Enterprise in May, Ginkgo Bioworks went public through a SPAC merger, raising $2.5 billion.

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