Inside the fierce, messy fight over “healthy” sugar tech


In an e-mail to Rogers that December—obtained, like most of the others in this tale, from courtroom filings—Zhang wrote: “Some initiatives that you thought were being owned by CFB are not owned by CFB.” He stated that both of those the inositol and the sugar phosphate technologies in fact originated in his TIB lab and experienced been funded by a Chinese company in advance of CFB commenced operate on them. This would indicate, he wrote, that CFB could not declare complete ownership of both, but only develop upon the Chinese get the job done.

In advance of that e-mail, Rogers had proposed splitting CFB, leaving Zhang his sci-fi bio-battery and sugar-to-hydrogen principles, whilst Rogers would commercialize the nearer-time period uncommon sugars. Zhang dismissed the strategy, and to no one’s shock, he did not renew Rogers’s CEO agreement, afterwards citing his “failure to elevate a solitary financial investment greenback.” But Rogers, who retained a smaller stake in the business as portion of his compensation, was not prepared to stroll absent. At the conclude of December 2015, he despatched CFB an e-mail referencing a “glaring” contradiction between statements the company experienced produced in NSF grant applications though he was interim CEO and statements created by Zhang. 

As an example, Rogers pointed out that although Zhang experienced told him the legal rights to the production method for sugar phosphates were Chinese, one particular application said that CFB owned the legal rights and would commercialize the approach in the US. “If there is a trouble,” Rogers warned, “I simply cannot glance the other way. Of system, any whiff of grant fraud will cause prospective licensees and probable buyers to flee.”

In the e mail, Rogers reiterated his recommendation that CFB transfer the rights for tagatose and a further rare sugar known as arabinose, as well as the legal rights for the sugar phosphates process, to a new startup he was intending to sort. But he required to go rapidly, preferably in just a 7 days. “If you require more time, make sure you permit me know, but time is working quick in quite a few methods,” he wrote. 

sugar cubes divided into piles


Zhang once again refused to break up the company, and on January 6, 2016, time ran out. Rogers included Bonumose in the state of Virginia and, nine days later, despatched an electronic mail to the NSF’s Office of Inspector Normal entitled “Report of feasible NSF grant fraud.”

It quoted from some seemingly damning e-mail between Zhang and Rogers. In a person, sent in the summer of 2015, Zhang writes: “About sugar phosphate job, the experiments have been conducted by 1 of my collaborators and my satellite lab in China. The technological innovation transfer will take place in China only. If this project is funded by [the NSF], most of income will be made use of to fund the other task in CFB.” That meant the promising tagatose exploration, which experienced not nonetheless received any official NSF funding.

A further, pertaining to a second NSF inositol proposal, took a related tack: “Nearly all experiments … have been completed. Chun You [CFB’s chief scientist] and I have filed a Chinese patent on behalf of ourselves, no relation to CFB … If it is funded, most of [the NSF money] will be employed for CFB to guidance the other projects.” 


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