Sep 7, 2021 - Economy

Texas startup Solugen says abortion law will cause it to hire elsewhere

Texas abortion law protest.

Photo by Sergio Flores/Getty Images.

Solugen, a Houston-based chemicals startup backed by top Silicon Valley investors, plans to open a new R&D facility outside of Texas because many of the state's social policies — including its new abortion ban — are making it difficult to recruit employees.

By the numbers: Solugen currently has about 115 employees, most of whom work out of its Houston headquarters. It plans to more than double its R&D capability over the next two years, representing around 100 jobs, with most of those expected to be located in a new facility that it will locate in either California or Massachusetts.

  • The company has raised over $80 million in venture capital from firms like Founders Fund, Fifty Years, Lowercarbon Capital, Refactor Capital and Unicorn Venture Partners.

What they're saying: "We want to make sure we're hiring the top enzymologists and chemical engineers," says Solugen CEO Gaurab Chakrabarti, who grew up in Houston.

  • "We've come to the conclusion after talking to lots of candidates that they want to join Solugen but they don't feel comfortable coming to Texas, so for us it's become a no brainer to have R&D facilities elsewhere."

Big picture: Few Texas CEOs have commented publicly on the state's new abortion law, which Gov. Greg Abbott defended by claiming that a lot of business leaders "like the social positions that the state of Texas is taking."

  • Solugen chief technology officer Sean Hunt says: "I think you're not seeing many people speak out because they're afraid of taking a political stance, but this really isn't about politics. It's about bad legislation if Texas wants to be a business friendly state."

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