From the Labs to the Markets: The Furfural Story

From the Labs to the Markets: The Furfural Story
 Financing the Development & Commercialisation of Novel Biorefining Technology: The Furfural Case (from Lab-bench to US$30million Commercial Plants & IP Sale)
La Belle au bois dormant (“The Beauty in the Sleeping Woods”).

The Furfural Story

We recently had the opportunity to share the furfural story of International Furan Technology (Pty) Ltd at the Innovation and Investment Forum of WFC2015: XiV World Forestry Congress in Durban.

Story telling is one of the great African traditions and in that tradition, honourable delegates, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, your Excellency Naledi Pandor, Minister of Science and Technology, let me try to share with you our story of

  1. how we took a biorefining idea first to the labs, then
  2. got it financed and
  3. commercialised it.

In order to do that, I shall first introduce you to the chemical, its market place and then highlight in five or so minutes a journey that started in 1998.

The slide’s narrative, which follows-on from Gianluca’s theme of the “Sleeping Beauty”, can be downloaded here (by registered users).

WFC2015, XIV World Forestry Congress

Subtheme 4: Encouraging product innovation an sustainable trade

Dialogue 1 -4: Innovation and Investment Forum

Sub session 3: From the Labs to the Marketplace

Thursday 10 Sep 2015, 08h30 – 11h20.

Chair:  Jukka Tissari (FAO)

Keynote: Charlie Clarke (Sappi): SA biorefinery development

Panel (left to right): Elizabeth de Carvalhaes (Ibá, Brazil) Jegatheswaran Ratnasingam (Univ Putra Malaysia) Philipp Steiner (CEO of International Furan Technology (Pty) Ltd) Johann Görgens (Univ. of Stellenbosch, SA) Chris Nicholson (IDC, South Africa) Riikka Joukio (Metsä Group): Bioproduct mill and a globally unique ecosystem for bioeconomy Moderator: Ms Roberta Annan Erkki Hellen (VTT, Finland): New opportunities with nanocelluloses and foam technologies. 


Speaker profile (at

Presentation download (from




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