Genera has been working exclusively in the biomass business since 2008, with a proven track record, experienced management team, and a solid reputation as a leader in biomass supply and logistics. Genera’s roots are in formerly known as Genera Energy LLC, which was formed as a wholly owned subsidiary of the University of Tennessee Research Foundation in 2008.
In 2007, the State of Tennessee and the University of Tennessee made an unprecedented and unparalleled commitment to invest in a comprehensive and integrated switchgrass-to-ethanol initiative. This Biofuels Initiative grew from the University’s Institute of Agriculture and their history of work in developing bioenergy crops and supply systems. When the State of Tennessee committed $70.5 million to demonstrate an integrated bioeconomy, Genera Energy LLC was created as an innovative business model to attract private partners to the effort, and to facilitate the business-like approach that was necessary for the execution of the ambitious program.
Genera was not only successful in executing the objectives of the Tennessee Biofuels Initiative, but also laid a foundation to launch a commercial biomass-based industry, particularly one tailored to the Southeast. Genera has taken a highly focused and targeted approach to demonstrating, optimizing, and building up the infrastructure necessary to launch a self-sustaining, viable, commercial biomass-based industry.
The original Genera Energy LLC model is exemplary of how innovative university research programs and public sector investments can be effectively leveraged with private partners to deliver long-term, sustainable benefits for all stakeholders. The model remains intact, renamed TennEra LLC. TennEra is evaluating opportunities to leverage the successful “Genera model” and identify new technologies and programs within the University that are ready for pre-commercial demonstration.
By 2011, it was clear that the entire integrated energy crops to cellulosic biofuels value chain demonstrated in East Tennessee was demonstrating the technical, agronomic, and economic feasibility of a cellulosic ethanol industry. On track to meet all of its milestones and objectives by the fifth and final year of the state-funded program, Genera and its partners were building the foundation to support full commercial scale-up. Leveraging the public investment in the Biofuels Initiative, Genera focused its efforts primarily upstream of its biorefinery partner, gaining unparalleled experience and expertise in energy crop production and supply chains.
As the wind-down of the state-funded program neared, Genera and its University stakeholders recognized an unmet industry need for biomass supply. Genera’s four-member management team worked with the UT Research Foundation and The University of Tennessee to launch Genera Energy Inc. in March 2012 to pursue commercial biomass supply business opportunities.
Since the launch of Genera Energy Inc. in 2012, the company has had significant growth in both business and investment. Genera has secured contracts in the biofuels, biopower, bioproducts, and biochemical industries offering biomass supply chain management and consulting services. Recognition of the company’s growth has come in various forms. In 2013, it was honored with the prestigious Sustainable Feedstock Innovation Award by World Biofuels Markets and in 2014, it was named as one of the 40 Hottest Small Companies in the Advanced Bioeconomy. Additionally, Genera successfully completed a significant capital financing round in December 2014.