In an industry dominated by a few massive companies, chemical startup Pyran aims to change the landscape of plastic production with eco-friendly chemicals and to help plastic manufacturers so they can afford crucial materials.

Pyran, created by a small UW-Madison laboratory, is one of 12 finalists in the Governor’s Business Plan Contest presenting during the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs Conference today at Union South.

“It started out of the chemical engineering department here at UW in Professor George Huber’s research group,” said co-founder Kevin Barnett, who started Pyran three years ago. “Our research group received a $3.3 million research grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to attempt to make high-value chemicals from renewable biomass resources.”

Their product, 1,5-pentanediol (1,5-PDO), is a commonly-used chemical called a diol that is less expensive than the commonly used diols 1,6-HDO, 1,5-PDO and 1,4-BDO.

Big companies such as PPG Industries, Sherwin-Williams and Valspar rely on these chemicals to create a wide array of common products such as plastic, paint, coating and adhesive.

Unlike these leading oil-derived diols, Pyran’s formula utilizes renewable resources, making it not only a cheaper alternative but also a greener one, while helping to lower the plastic industry’s dependence on oil. Read the full story here.