Rubber is all the rage at Kultevat. With a team of experienced scientists and industry experts who have been working in the natural rubber business for decades, Kultevat is one of the leading natural rubber producers in North America.
In 2012, Dan Swiger, CEO of Kultevat, switched gears from alternative rubber production to natural rubber production by developing taraxacum kok-sakgyz (TKS) as a source of natural rubber. TKS is a species of dandelion native to areas such as Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, and notable for its production of high-quality rubber. Kultevat’s goal with TKS is to develop an annual crop that can be grown by US farmers as a part of the bioeconomy, since there is currently no domestic source for rubber.
“The TKS rubber supply will be more eco-friendly with a lower carbon footprint than the current rubber supply from Hevea rubber trees. TKS also produces an exceptionally high-quality rubber that is very similar in its properties to the rubber from trees,” said Roger Beachy, Chief Scientific Officer at Kultevat.
Located at the Helix Center in 39 North, Kultevat has been able to engage with partners and local investors to make their goals come to life. The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center has given Kultevat the opportunity to use a number of its facilities and scientific expertise including the plant cell and tissue culture facility, the microscopy and cell imaging facility, the mass-spectroscopy facility, and the plant growth/greenhouse facility.
The TKS rubber supply will be more eco-friendly with a lower carbon footprint than the current rubber supply from Hevea rubber trees.
“The Helix Center is located with other young companies, including those who are involved in various aspects of plant sciences and agriculture. Kultevat has established collaborations that are essential for its development, including plant breeding, seed production, crop production, and extraction of rubber,” said Roger.
With no domestic source for rubber, there is uncertainty around supply and quality for companies who need rubber for their products. Those companies are then left to find other resources that are more expensive and potentially more harmful to the environment. To combat this, Kultevat has recently begun fundraising to increase the scale of crop and rubber production as well as headcount to meet the high demand and ensure long-term commercial success of the company.