C&EN’s 10 Start-ups to Watch 2022

One of the amazing things about chemistry is the diversity of problems to which it can be applied. They don’t call chemistry the central science for nothing. It’s been a harder year for young companies trying to raise venture capital. The value of the deals made through the first three quarters of 2022 is down almost 25% from the year-ago period, according to a recent survey by PitchBook and the National Venture Capital Association.

But even with the funding decline, chemistry-centric companies seem to launch weekly by entrepreneurs from across the globe. And as can be seen from the firms we’ve chosen for C&EN’s 10 Start-Ups to Watch for 2022, these entrepreneurs are applying chemistry to a refreshingly diverse set of markets.

In agriculture, Micropep Technologies is harnessing micropeptides to kill weeds without harming crops or the environment. In the food industry, Phytolon is developing fermented natural colors that could make serious inroads in the artificial-color market. In the energy field, Air Company is making sustainable jet fuel from just carbon dioxide, hydrogen, and green electricity. And in human health, Exo Therapeutics is creating small molecules that inhibit enzymes by latching on to them at a place called an exosite.

Although these companies serve quite different markets, they are united by a desire to improve the health of the planet or the people on it. And along the way, they hope to make some money.

How did we choose these companies? Readers from around the world submitted nominations via our website. We also tracked the new firms that C&EN reports on week in and week out. After considering more than 200 companies, we selected 10 for their science and the range of problems they are working to solve.

Most start-ups fail, and some of the firms we’ve profiled in years past have failed as well. But plenty of them are thriving, even to the point of getting acquired or launching products that improve our lives.


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