The maker of Proxima thermoset resin, Materia began collaborating with Texas-based ExxonMobil Chemical Co. in 2017 and exploring ways to use Proxima to manufacture hydrocarbon-based materials that are stronger, lighter and more durable than other thermoset products such as epoxy. For example, in the wind power industry, Proxima could be used to develop “longer, more durable wind turbine blades” or used “as a light-weight, corrosion-resistant replacement for steel in certain construction applications,” according to ExxonMobil.
“The combination of Materia’s innovative culture, dedicated employees and cutting-edge technology with ExxonMobil’s expertise and scale in bringing new technology to market will open up an exciting new chapter for Materia,” co-founder Robert Grubbs said in a statement. “ExxonMobil’s acquisition significantly expands the growth opportunities for this unique technology.”
Grubbs in 1992 produced a broadly applicable olefin metathesis catalyst. The technology, which earned Grubbs and two other scientists a Nobel Prize in chemistry in 2005, also had commercial potential, promoting him to co-found Materia with Chris Cruce in 1998.
Today, Materia has about 70 employees and generates $14 million in annual revenue, according to a Business Journal estimate. The company has raised $150 million to date.
Materia’s former Chief Executive Christopher Murphy, who retired in August, referred to the acquisition in a LinkedIn post as an “exciting and major step for both us and the ExxonMobil Chemical Company, with tremendous synergies to even further expand upon. Accelerated commercialization and expansion of our broad material technologies platform is sure to improve environmental sustainability, performance and efficiencies in several targeted growth industries.”
The deal includes Materia’s portfolio of patents and intellectual property, its headquarters, a research and technology center in Pasadena, as well as its manufacturing facility in Texas. Materia will continue operating under its name as ExxonMobil’s wholly owned subsidiary.