LAVVAN Appoints Neil Closner as Chief Executive Officer

Former MedReleaf executive team joins Closner in transformative venture to drive cannabinoid fermentation efforts

NEW YORK, NY – August 8, 2019: LAVVAN Inc. (“LAVVAN”) today announced that Neil Closner, formerly of MedReleaf Corp. ("MedReleaf"), has been appointed its new Chief Executive Officer. Joining Closner are several key members of MedReleaf’s former leadership team who were responsible for its groundbreaking achievements and success. Former LAVVAN CEO, Etan Bendheim, will become President of the company.

Closner has more than two decades of start-up, technology and health care experience. He was responsible for leading MedReleaf, which was the first ISO 9001 and GMP certified producer of cannabis in North America. MedReleaf was founded in 2013 and grew to be Canada’s most awarded licensed producer and was widely recognized for its scientific leadership, product innovation and its operational excellence. After completing the industry’s largest initial public offering in June 2017, MedReleaf was acquired for $2.5 billion in July 2018. 

“My team and I are thrilled to be bringing our experience and focus to this transformative venture,” said Neil Closner, CEO of LAVVAN. “We are very excited about our partnership with Amyris (NASDAQ:AMRS), the undisputed leader in biosynthesis. The collaboration between LAVVAN and Amyris is now set to revolutionize the cannabis industry."  

LAVVAN, in its collaboration with Amyris, will produce cannabidiol (CBD) and other cannabinoids through fermentation-based technology in food-grade manufacturing facilities. LAVVAN's processes will ensure product purity and consistency for commercial-grade, cannabinoid-based products, while minimizing production costs. 

“Neil and his team helped to birth the emerging global cannabis industry with MedReleaf and they will now transform it with LAVVAN," said Etan Bendheim, President of LAVVAN. “I am extremely excited that Neil and his team have joined LAVVAN."  

The other former members of the MedReleaf team joining LAVVAN include: 

  • Alexia Blake, Director, Product Development

  • Angelo Fefekos, SVP, Regulatory Affairs and Quality Assurance

  • Dr. Jeremy N. Friedberg, Chief Science Officer

  • Istok Nahtigal, Director, Process Sciences

  • Adam Noyek, SVP, Operations

  • Ori Sher, Director, Infrastructure

  • Umar Syed, Senior Advisor, Product Strategy 

"The move of one of the most respected teams in the industry to the LAVVAN partnership is further support of the disruptive potential for our cannabinoid products and puts us on a solid path to lead this emerging sector. We are very pleased to be working with this team and the momentum we are gaining in this important market,” said John Melo, President and CEO of Amyris.

 LAVVAN anticipates commercialization of its cannabinoids in 2020. 

About LAVVAN, Inc.

LAVVAN is focused on the production of high-quality and reliably sourced cannabinoids for a range of end markets. In collaboration with Amyris (NASDAQ:AMRS), LAVVAN is developing fermentation-based technology to unlock the full potential of the cannabinoid family of molecules. LAVVAN is backed by leaders across the cannabis, food and beverage, and pharmaceutical industries. For more information visit

Amyris Finalizes Cannabinoid Development, Licensing and Commercialization Agreement Containing $300 Million of R&D and Milestone Payments and a Long-Term Royalty Stream

LAVVAN Cites Amyris’s Proven Commercial Achievements and Capability to Bring to Market the Highest Quality Cannabinoids for Large Scale Use

EMERYVILLE, Calif., March 18, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Amyris, Inc. (Nasdaq:AMRS), a leader in the development and production of sustainable ingredients for the Health & Wellness, Clean Beauty and Flavors & Fragrances markets, today announced that it has signed a final definitive agreement for cannabinoid development, licensing and commercialization containing $300 million of R&D and milestone payments plus long-term royalties. The agreement between Amyris and LAVVAN, Inc., a newly-formed company backed by leaders across the pharmaceutical, cannabis, and financial sectors, intends to bring the first fermentation-derived cannabinoid products to market. Today’s announcement follows the previously announced binding term sheet and includes further milestone payments related to additional targeted products.

Based on its expected development timeline, Amyris believes it can earn a significant portion of these milestone payments by the end of 2020, with $20-30 million anticipated in 2019, including a $10 million milestone payment that is expected to be recognized later this month.

Under the agreement, LAVVAN will be responsible for the global manufacture and commercialization of the cannabinoids. The consummation of the transactions contemplated by the agreement is subject to certain closing conditions.

As previously noted by the company, cannabinoids are closely related to terpenes, an area in which Amyris has substantial experience and expertise. Because of this prior terpene work, Amyris has completed a significant portion of the development steps toward the cannabinoid pathways. Importantly, because of Amyris’s highly automated processes, the company will not increase its research and development headcount to pursue and complete the project.

“We are delighted to have signed this partnership deal in the cannabinoids space,” said John Melo, Amyris President & CEO. “Amyris brings its proven technology platform in the synthetic biology sector that has brought leading products to market in skin care, flavors, fragrances, sweeteners and now cannabinoids to help improve health and quality of life at reduced cost with consistent quality and sustainably sourced. Our partner believes that we are the only company with the capability to globally commercialize CBD and bring cannabinoid products to consumer brands at a scale and consistency that will enable several product categories to achieve success at scale in delivering what consumers are seeking – a natural, sustainably-sourced cannabinoid product that improves quality of life and health. LAVVAN’s partnership will provide for broad distribution during commercialization along with the manufacturing support to meet significant demand growth for these products.”

“We feel that this project was simply made for our technology platform,” said Joel Cherry, Amyris President of Research & Development. “Based on our known success in bringing fermentation-based products to market and our demonstrated expertise in producing plant compounds in yeast, we have high confidence in achieving the partnership goals.”

“We are tremendously excited to be working with Amyris,” said Etan Bendheim, LAVVAN CEO. “We look forward to bringing the highest quality, best value cannabinoids to the market, beginning with CBD by early next year.”

Significant Expected Benefits of Amyris’s Fermentation-Based Cannabinoid Products

Products derived from fermentation are anticipated to have several significant benefits, including:  

  • Consistent purity and dosage

  • Improved yield of economically difficult-to-source, “rare” cannabinoids

  • 100% free from pesticides, non-GMO and naturally sourced

  • Sustainably-sourced products derived from rainfall-hydrated, natural sugarcane feedstock that results in less water and land usage relative to growing cannabis plants.

All R&D work executed by Amyris and all manufacturing work and commercialization activities done by LAVVAN will be conducted in compliance with all U.S. federal laws regarding controlled substances with adherence to state agency regulations.

About Amyris
Amyris is the integrated renewable products company that is enabling the world’s leading brands to achieve sustainable growth. Amyris applies its innovative bioscience solutions to convert plant sugars into hydrocarbon molecules and produce specialty ingredients and consumer products. The company is delivering its No Compromise™ products and services across a number of markets, including specialty and performance chemicals, flavors and fragrances, cosmetics ingredients, pharmaceuticals, and nutraceuticals. More information about the company is available at

LAVVAN, Inc. is a newly-formed company backed by leaders across the pharmaceutical, cannabis, and financial sectors. LAVVAN is focused on spearheading bio-based disruption of the cannabinoid sector and providing the market with superior cannabinoids at significantly reduced cost for a multitude of consumer product and therapeutic applications.

Forward-Looking Statements
This release contains forward-looking statements, and any statements other than statements of historical fact could be deemed to be forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements include, among other things, statements regarding future events, such as expected milestone and royalty payments under the agreement, including the timing thereof, Amyris’s anticipated capability to commercialize CBD and other cannabinoid products, including the timing thereof, expected demand for and manufacturing and distribution of the products subject to the agreement, the anticipated benefits of fermentation-based cannabinoid products, expected headcount impact of the project, and anticipated compliance with U.S. federal laws and state agency regulations regarding controlled substances. These statements are based on management's current expectations and actual results and future events may differ materially due to risks and uncertainties, including risks related to Amyris's liquidity and ability to fund operating and capital expenses, risks related to potential delays or failures in development, production and commercialization of products, risks related to Amyris's reliance on third parties, and other risks detailed from time to time in filings Amyris makes with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including Annual Reports on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q and Current Reports on Form 8-K. Amyris disclaims any obligation to update information contained in these forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise.

Amyris, the Amyris logo and No Compromise are trademarks or registered trademarks of Amyris, Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.


Peter DeNardo
Director, Investor Relations and Corporate Communications
Amyris, Inc. 
+1 (510) 740-7481