San Diego Business Journal

Verenium Corp., an industrial biotech company that develops environmentally friendly high-performance enzymes, recently celebrated the grand opening of its new office and laboratory building in Torrey Pines.

The 60,000-square-foot building at 3550 John Hopkins Court features a state-of-the-art laboratory for pilot scale fermentation or scale-up work for enzyme manufacturing and a state-of-the-art robotics lab where the company deploys its proprietary high-throughput screening technology for enzyme discovery and evolution.

Jeffrey Black, chief financial officer for Verenium, said the building is designed to be an open and collaborative space with amenities such as short cubicle walls, huddle meeting rooms and glass partitions. The building, which is leased from Alexandria Real Estate Equities, is also designed to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification with features that allow it to perform 15 percent better than national standards for energy efficiency and save about 80,000 gallons of water annually.

Black said Verenium is downsizing from its 135,000-square-foot location in two buildings in Sorrento Valley primarily due to the sale of its second-generation biofuels business unit to BP PLC in 2010. BP assumed the lease on the property as well as about 80 employees in San Diego, he said. Verenium currently has about 100 employees, primarily in San Diego.

Verenium’s enzyme products target animal health and nutrition, grain processing, oilfield services and other specialty industrial processes. As an example, enzymes added to the feed of poultry and pigs enable their digestive systems to extract phosphorus from food, which is essential to bone growth. Without the enzymes, farmers add phosphorus to the animals’ food. One teaspoon of enzyme can replace a 25-pound bag of phosphorus, which can lead to harsh environmental impacts such as algae blooms when digested.

Black said the $4 billion enzyme industry has practical applications such as converting corn to ethanol, wine clarification and stain removal.